Let Them Speak
Bates. Chase. Seward.
They wanted to defeat him. Some might even say they considered him an enemy. In their minds, he had to be stopped. These men did not want him as the leader.
There were shouting matches and heated disagreements. Even so, his message broke through and he won. Abraham Lincoln was the man they were trying to beat.
Edward Bates, Salmon Chase, and William Seward were all candidates for the presidency in 1860. They were all bitter rivals.
Remarkably, after Lincoln won, he appointed these same men to his cabinet.
Bates became Attorney General. Chase accepted the position of Secretary of the Treasury, and Seward became Lincoln’s most trusted adviser as Secretary of State.
What was Lincoln thinking? As a leader, shouldn’t you surround yourself with people who agree with you? Lincoln didn’t think so. Abe believed the country deserves the best and brightest, even if they disagreed with him. Lincoln put the needs of the country above his own comfort. Instead of having “yes” men sitting around the table, he knew there would be people around him who would speak both truth and candor. To Lincoln, that’s what America needed.
If you want to be a better leader, be like Lincoln. Surround yourself with people who disagree with you. It is only with candor that true progress can be made. Your organization’s mission and vision will benefit from honest feedback.
Our opinions and ideas need to be challenged. By surrounding himself with people who were unafraid to speak truth, Lincoln was able to get multiple perspectives on the issue placed before him. This, in turn, helped him make better decisions.
As leaders, we should value the perspectives of others. But that only comes if we will allow our own views to be scrutinized. Lincoln was willing to present an idea and allow his team to make it better. That’s strong leadership.
Be like Lincoln…allow your closest advisers permission to disagree with you. Listen…don’t react. Listen…and consider what’s been said. Allow these necessary voices to make your ideas better. Do that…and you’ll be a stronger leader.
Brian Sanders serves as Executive Vice President of Positive Alternative Radio. He regularly writes and speaks on leadership topics.
His new book, “Leadership Endurance,” can be purchased HERE.