By Al Mozingo


In order to become a great leader, we need to know what a great leader looks like. Many of us may not become great leaders, but we can try to become the best we can be. Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest leaders of modern times. A common man, who rose to become one of the world's greatest leaders. How did he do it? What character traits did he have? Below is a listing of some of his character traits, tactics put into action by him, some principles he lived by, his religious values, and people skills he used.

Character Traits

Determination - The ability to succeed depends upon one's own determination.

Integrity - Being honest, upright, impartial and having high integrity is a must for a leader.

Patience - To allow things to develop as they should, using patience, is an important quality to integrate into one’s character.

Resentment - Putting away resentment and developing harmony is important. Developing forgiveness and generosity are traits to be developed.

Diligence - Success often occurs because of diligence, this is indeed a key to success.

Vision - Great leaders have vision, they are visionary. Great leaders have an ability of discernment or foresight.

Assertiveness - To be assertive is a must for leaders. Leaders need to take initiative and with confidence accomplish what needs to be done.

Tenacity - To stick to your purpose, focus on the job at hand and to be persistent in the achievement of goals is a must for a leader.

Success - To succeed is reaching a favorable outcome and to overcome failures, to view them as an experience to learn from.

Confidence - Confidence is being self-reliant and is validated from within, not from the need of praise.

Responsibility - Leaders must be accountable, answering to their conduct and obligations.

Enthusiasm - A person can lead others easier if they inspire others and exhibit enthusiasm.

Decisiveness - To have the determination and ability to make decisions while remaining calm is an important trait for a leader.

Will Power - To have self-discipline, to do what is right, and to strive towards improving yourself are important character traits of will power. Will power is manifested in the phase "If you think you can you can."

Tactics Put Into Action

Curiosity - Having profound curiosity, to investigate and learn allows one to progress and change.

Study - The inclination to read, study and put into action is important. Having a thirst for knowledge is a great tactic to improve one’s self.

Anger - An antagonistic attitude can be eliminated and/or reduced by self control; a tactic that can be used to resolve the incident is writing a letter about the incident then never mailing it. This is a psychological tactic, to allow one to show forgiveness and to eliminate anger.

Peacemaker - A leader’s goal should be to help others, to make a difference and to be a peacemaker.

Deliberation - Be one in which a decision is made in a slow, unhurried atmosphere, after the facts have been obtained, systematically studied and being aware of the consequences of the decision.

Committed - To remain deeply committed, to be of strong conviction and to carry into action deliberately is an important tactic for one to have.

Solitude - At times one needs to recharge one’s self, by getting away from everything.

Principles to Live By

Time Management - Making every moment count and continuously strive towards improvement.

Hard Labor - Hard labor is what one needs to strive towards for accomplishments. It may include studying, visualizing, planning and problem solving.

Learning - To acquire more knowledge, to keep focus and to learn what is needed for success is an important principle to live by.

Excel - To become the best and to excel to one’s full potential is a commendable goal. To become the "best of the best" is what we all should strive for.

Ambition - To have a desire to achieve, to have an attitude of doing good and making a difference is what a leader should strive for.

Resourcefulness - An ability to meet and handle a situation and keeping a can-do attitude is important. If one can visualize it one can accomplish it.

People Oriented - Strive to work with people, leaders get things done through people.

Attitude - To strive to make a difference and to leave your mark on the world, making it a little better is the attitude a leader should have.

Religious Values/Virtues

Morality - Discerning what is moral and right is a key rule to follow.

Light - Be guided by the light of almighty God.

Justice - To be one of justice is important as a leader. To be just and fair is imperative.

Forgiveness - The ability to forgive and to rise above personal resentment is needed for a leader.

Ethics - Doing what is right is in keeping with ethics. Strive for what is true, good, right and just.

Compassion - To have a tender heart, exhibiting compassion and helping those in distress is a good virtue to emulate.

Tolerance - Acceptance of others, being open minded, allowing diversity of thinking is a must for a leader.

Human Rights - To understand and speak out that "All men are created equal."

Spiritual - To believe in God and to do his will. Attend church, read the Bible and pray are activities that will enhance one spiritually.

Charity - One of the greatest virtues one can have is to be a charitable person, be kind and patient.

People Skills Used

Compassion - To be able to forgive is very important. Having a gentleness of disposition and kindness of heart is needed for a leader.

Persuasion - A leader persuades others into action. This is a very important skill to develop.

Respect - To treat others with respect, courteousness and keeping another best interests in mind is important.

Tact - To avoid being offensive, to help another, and using constructive criticism are key people skills to have.

Communicate - To convey information, to keep people informed and to do it with simple terms is a must.

Compromise - A leader must be able to settle differences, if conflict occurs the leader must be able to compromise.

Quarreling - One should not make a habit of quarreling, learn to disagree without being disagreeable and angry.

Fairness - Maintain a fair attitude is imperative for a leader; remember the phase "fair and impartial."

Diplomatic - We all need to strive towards being diplomatic with our communications and actions.

Trust - Trust is important to obtain as a leader, start by giving trust first. Be open to people, listen to them and ask for their input. Keep peoples best interests in mind.

Human Nature - The need to understand human nature is a necessary skill for leaders.

Cordial - Have a demeanor that is one of being pleasant, kind, nice and cordial.

Listen - Listen to all your people, operate with an open mind.

Humor - To have a since of humor will dissipate allot of negative stress. Laughter can help people physically. Humor helps make a connection to other people at times.


How did you personally compare to the information above? Abraham Lincoln was a unique, great leader. He had a number of virtues and character traits that were outstanding. We need to find someone to emulate to become a better leader. Sometimes we don't have a mentor or someone we can look up to as a role model, but we can use the above information, based on Abraham Lincoln, to help us in that endeavor.

Use this list above from time to time to see if your behavior is congruent to Abraham Lincoln. We should always strive to do what is right and to develop a win-win with whomever we come in contact with. Good luck!

Reference: The Words Lincoln Lived By, Gene Griessman, A Fireside Book, New York, N.Y., 1997

About the Author: Al Mozingo is a nationally recognized leadership instructor. He can provide “Basic Leadership” or “Advanced Leadership” to your organization. See Mr. Mozingo’s web site for offerings: www.firemanager.com

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Comment by Al Mozingo on December 10, 2008 at 6:56pm

Comment by Jeff Betz on December 10, 2008 at 5:58pm
Good stuff Al. However, I must admit I did not read the whole thing...yet. I promise I will though, because leadership and management are interesting to me, as well as Lincoln.
Not that I have any chance of measuring up to all of these traits, but if I can gain any insight at all, it's been a good use if time.

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