According to the transformational leader theory, a leader is supposed to transform and motive followers to go beyond their own self-interests for the good of everyone. The theory was proposed by Bass (1996) who said that by motivating followers the transformational leader makes them aware of the importance of accomplishing certain tasks, and activate their moral value obligation to others such as liberty, equality, and justice. Abraham Lincoln was considered a transformational leader primarily because of the effect and the way he interacted with his followers.
Abraham Lincoln used a style called the transactional leadership skill which he used to acquire desired skills from his followers. He used to motivate them to bargain or trade ones needs for the good of others or simply self-sacrifice (Davis, 1999). His ability to produce a lot of positive results during his presidential period is mostly influenced by his character. He was a transformational leader by nature and had the ability to acquire the trust and loyalty of the people he led. He was able to inspire people to make sacrifices in spite of the hardships. This ability made him rose to the rank of a very influential public figure who was trusted and respected by many people. Lastly, he had an effectiveness in his appeal to his followers ethical values as he made them sacrifice a lot for the good of others (Leidner, 2012).
Abraham Lincoln dealt with the issue of war in the best way possible. He kept and maintained close contact with the soldiers. He used to visit the Army of the Potomac in their war field and in their hospital beds. There he treated them with courtesy and respect regardless of the rank. According to William Seward, Lincoln was a man who was so accessible to both the proper and improper persons (Davis, 1999). He enjoyed the visits he got from the soldiers. He also had a common touch and immense absence of affection which made the soldiers loyal and respectful to him (Davis, 1999). They were convinced that the president had their best interests at heart and called him Father Abraham. He truly developed the trust, respect, and loyalty of the troops. Most significantly, the way he abolished slavery by issuing the Emancipating Proclamation and following it with a push for the 13th Amendment to the constitution. The way he handled these issues is greatly admirable.
However, I will disagree with the way Lincoln handled some the domestic policies. He made some major changes in the government policy like the military draft which resulted in the riots in New York City in 1863 as it brought another financial strain to the common citizen. The war required a lot of finances thus the creation of the first income tax. He also, suspended habeas corpus which was practiced in some religions thus the government was able to imprison dissenters without trial. This approach was not the best way to handle such issues. He was supposed to ensure equality in his moral judgment.
Lastly, the motives of Abraham Lincoln were clear. He wanted the best for his people. He was adamant in using his good qualities to inspire people to help others (Leidner, 2012). Although I tried to ignore his religious beliefs it is clear that he was a theological thinker and based his decisions on this belief.
In conclusion, Abraham Lincoln has emerged as a strong transformational leader through the skills he used. He developed loyalty and willingness for self-sacrifice among the soldiers and his followers.
William Davis (1999) Lincolns Men: How President Lincoln Became Father to an Army and Nation. New York: The Free Press. Read more.
.Bernard M. Bass (1996). Ethics of Transformational Leadership: State University of New York Center for Leadership Studies. Read more.
Leidner, R. (2012). Great American History. Lincoln the Transformational Leader. Retrieved on March 25, 2013, from http://www.greatamericanhistory.net/transforming_leader.html
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