The essay examines how Abraham Lincoln’s leadership style can be analyzed using Leader Member Exchange model. The essay shows various facets of Lincoln’s character, which score high on LMX. Further, it also shows that his leadership style was transformational in nature.
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History holds account of many great leaders and one of them, undoubtedly, is Abraham Lincoln. This paper will study Abraham Lincoln’s leadership style using the Leader-Member Exchange Theory (LMX). The paper first explains the LMX model, and then demonstrates how the model explains Lincoln’s leadership style.
LMX theory follows the basic principle of forming two groups around a leader – the inner group and the outer group. The followers belonging to the inner group of the leader immediately gain greater responsibility, attention, and rewards.
On the other hand, the followers belonging to the outer group receive less attention and rewards. The followers belonging to the inner circle of the leader directly communicate with the leader and the leader allows special treatment for them.
In analyzing a leadership style using the LMX, it must be noted that a leader’s relationship with each follower is analyzed using a dyad. Each of the links or relationships will differ in their very nature. For instance, a leader may have poor relation with one of his/her followers, yet enjoy an open and trusting relation with others.
Further, LMX leadership model helps in developing transformational leadership, as the model stresses highly on relationship of the leader with his/her followers. Thus, a leader who scores high in LMX model will help in transforming followers and motivate them to assume leadership roles.
The leader gets an opportunity to deliver his visions to his close followers. Hence, this helps in developing charismatic leaders. Quality LMX leads to satisfaction of the followers increasing their commitment and performance towards the leader’s goal. Further, a high LMX can transform the whole work-experience of a follower.
Abraham Lincoln was open to ideas. He adapted to situations quickly. He listened to his followers and was ready to act on the suggestions of his followers. This shows that Lincoln had positive relationship with his followers.
However, in his relationships with his followers one must not forget that Lincoln was a constitutional leader and he, at times, had to work alone, as has been observed in the issue related to the abolition of slavery. Lincoln was criticized by many radical leaders of the time, as they believed that he was a ‘soft’ leader.
Many believed that slavery was not abolished immediately because of Lincoln’s tepid decision-making . They believed that Lincoln took soft stance by not adopting emancipation in 1862. The radicals, who evidently belonged to the outer group of Lincoln, believed that Lincoln’s pragmatic decision making was not enough. However, Lincoln’s in-group believed that his decision relied on a broader perspective.
Lincoln’s leadership style was that of a military commander who drove his followers to war. Nevertheless, he was not autocratic. Rather, he was a flexible and responsive leader. Further, Lincoln was a transformational leader who did not rely on overpowering his civilian subjects.
When some suggested that force should be used to squash a rebellion, Lincoln dismissed the idea, even though it made him appear to be a hardline politician instead of a libertine. According to LMX model, in such a situation Lincoln should have pacified a few of his followers instead of following his individual decision.
Abraham Lincoln was definitely a great leader. His leadership style was that of a calculative, shrewd politician with a great vision. Maybe he was not successful in delivering his vision to his followers and at times fell short of charisma. Nevertheless, he had a very strong band of followers.
Lunenburg, F. C. (2010). Leader-Member Exchange Theory: Another Perspective on the Leadership Process. International Journal of Management, Business, and Administration, 13 (1), 1-5.
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Schneider, T. E. (2007). Lincoln and Leadership. Perspectives on Political Science, 36 (2), 69-72.