Malice for None

Studying Abraham Lincoln's life has made me a better person. In this written piece below from, Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips, we learn that Lincoln wore his kind heart on his sleeve. We can gain a lot from this gentle giant. I have learned to move forward in each and every day with a glad spirit and hopeful skips in my steps.

Followers in virtually every organization respond better to, and will more easily be led by, a leader who consistently displays kindness and empathy, than one who is associated with vindictiveness or animosity. This, of course, is only human nature, and Abraham Lincoln seemed to instinctively realize it. Moreover, he understood that to actively engage in slander and malicious dealings would simply eat up far too much of his time, which he used in securing positive end results, rather than negative ones. Pettiness, spite, and vengeance are emotional reactions considered to be beneath the dignity of a leader. Followers expect their leaders to rise above such demeaning and degrading activity.

While kindness was the very foundation of his personality, Lincoln also understood that if people were going to come to him with ideas, suggestions, and better ways of making things work, he had to provide the climate to allow it. He actively encouraged innovative thinking and the participation of subordinates. Lincoln wanted to "adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views." And it was those "true views" -- the truth -- that guided Lincoln through his stormy, turbulent tenure in office. Whenever he had doubts, and there were many, he fell back on the foundation of his personality: Honesty, integrity, compassion, and mercy. He seemed to have virtually no feelings of hate, vindictiveness, or malice.

Lincoln kept warrants for execution, marked "cowardice in the face of the enemy," pigeonholed in the desk in his office and referred to them as his "leg cases," "running itch," or, "vulnerable heels." "I put it to you," he once remarked, "and I leave it for you to decide for yourself. If Almighty God gives a man a cowardly pair of legs, how can he help their running away with him?" With that philosophy in hand, Lincoln would scrawl on the back of an envelope containing a request for clemency a simple, "Let it be done." 

Even two of the president's sons, Willy and Tad, were aware of their father's frequent pardons. Having sentenced their doll soldier to death as punishment for sleeping on guard duty, they obtained mercy from their father. "The doll Jack is pardoned. By order of the President," he commanded on Executive Mansion stationery, signing it just as he signed all of his pardons: A. Lincoln.

* Never crush a man out, thereby making him and his friends permanent enemies of your organization.

* No purpose is served by punishing merely for punishment's sake.

* Always keep in mind that once a subordinate is destroyed he ceases to contribute to the organization.