45 Best Abraham Lincoln Quotes on Leadership

Get into the mindset of the 16th US president who became one of the greatest world leaders of all time. Here is our collection of 45 Abraham Lincoln quotes on leadership that will inspire you to become a strong leader.

Lincoln quotes on leadership

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but leave him when he is wrong.

A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved, I do not expect the house to fall. But I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.

I desire to so conduct the affairs of the administration that if, at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall have at least one friend left – and that friend shall be down inside of me.

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Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.

The legitimate object of government is to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they cannot, by individual effort, for at all, or do so well, for themselves.

Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.

I do the very best I know how – the very best I can and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.

Character and integrity quotes on leadership

I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.

It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong.

I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.

It is rather for us here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true; I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.

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We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence.

Stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.

You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.

Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.

16th U.S. President thought leadership quotes

You can tell the greatness of a man by what makes him angry.

Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself in every way he can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder him. — Lincoln quotes on leadership

If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.

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We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.

If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business.

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. — Lincoln quotes on leadership

These men ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others shall have.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

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Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. — Lincoln quotes on leadership

Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.

I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my very best each and every day.

Abraham Lincoln quotes on leadership

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose – and you allow him to make war at pleasure.

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker, the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough. — Lincoln quotes on leadership

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.

Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.

I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.

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Tact: the ability to describe others as they see themselves. — Lincoln quotes on leadership

I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father’s child has.

Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today. — Lincoln quotes on leadership

When I’m getting ready to reason with a man I spend one third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say – and two thirds thinking about him and what he is going to say. My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.

Abraham Lincoln’s keys of leadership

According to the Presidential Historians Survey conducted by C-SPAN in 2017, President Abraham Lincoln was ranked 1st in terms of leadership. From the collection of quotes above, here are the important points of his leadership skills:

Communication Ability

Having good communication skills indicates that someone has good emotional intelligence as well. President Abraham Lincoln also possessed this in conveying rhetoric and thoughts through the words.

Connect with everyone

A leader must be able to blend in with his surroundings and have good persuasive abilities. Lincoln was known as an honest leader, but he was able to build relationships with people. Leadership skills are not only measured by intelligence, but how strong personal relationships and the level of trust are built.

Say no to “Yes Men”

Leaders must also make common interests a priority in their work. For example, Abraham Lincoln surprisingly chose to fill his cabinet with people who were previously in his rival candidate pool. His focus is more on how every qualified person is able to contribute to his country regardless of his political orientation.

Good attitude

Lincoln is arguably a figure who is loved by his people. That is one of his strengths as a leader. Americans tend to be more sympathetic and believe in him who has a good attitude. So, Lincoln can inspire and share his vision with others.

Accept criticism and suggestions

As a confident and open-minded person, Lincoln enjoys having debates and discussions with people who have different opinions. In addition to building trust and closeness with the people, but also to improve or add to the discourse on the policies that he made.

Public persuasion

Abraham Lincoln was able to convey brilliant rhetoric and ideas that the American people accepted. In carrying out public persuasion, Lincoln did not just transfer words. But he also has great expression, gesture, intonation, and passion. Thus, the public can be influenced to participate in being motivated and contributing.

Being Decisive

A strong leader knows when and how to make decisions. All members of the cabinet are free to make arguments. However, Lincoln has the ability when to retrieve the information he needs. Sometimes he has to be alone to determine the best solution and make decisions without hesitation.

Moral authority

Lincoln understood the moral underpinnings of the Civil War and called the nation to a higher moral goal to abolish slavery. Lincoln’s legacy endures today because he was able to translate national sacrifices into moral gain.

Short biography

Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer. He also served as the 16th president of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865.

Lincoln led the United States through the Civil War, the bloodiest war and the nation’s greatest political crisis. He was able to keep the nation together, abolish slavery, strengthen the federal government, and modernize the U.S. economy.

Abraham Lincoln’s victory as the 16th president of the US made the Southern countries separate themselves from the North (Union). The Southern implemented the slavery system, while Lincoln was anti-slavery. The seven Southern states then formed a new state, namely the American Confederation.

Seeing his country divided, Lincoln sent a fleet of Union ships to bomb the Charleston harbor at Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861. This event started the Civil War. As the leader of the Union, Lincoln’s goal in attacking the Confederacy was to prevent the expansion of slavery, because the Confederacy became the center of slavery.

On January 1, 1863, Lincoln declared The Emancipation Proclamation. It contained, all people who were made slaves in rebel countries would be freed. However, this rule only applies to Confederate countries. Although it did not completely end slavery in America, the Emancipation Proclamation was the beginning of the abolition of slavery. This proclamation also led to the 13th Amendment, which aims to abolish slavery in America.

November of the same year, Lincoln delivered a speech at the inauguration ceremony of the national cemetery in Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Address speech stated that Lincoln not only wanted to unite the US, but also fought for equality and abolished slavery.

Final thought

A leader must be responsible for change in the workplace, community, nation, and connections with everyone beyond themselves. True leaders should not only see the bigger picture, but they should CREATE the bigger picture.

Hope this collection of Abraham Lincoln quotes on leadership will elevate your skill on setting directions, making positive influences, enforcing quality, and inspiring innovation. Did you find your favorite quote? Tell us in the comment section below.

If you enjoy this Abraham Lincoln quotes on leadership, don’t forget to check out our female leadership quotes and Simon Sinek quotes on leadership too.

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