Why Lincoln Was a Leader: Turning the Disagreeable Into the Agreeable

Darrell L. Browning asked:

By Darrell L. Browning


Many Americans have watched with trepidation as Congress battles back and forth with the Obama Administration over how to stimulate our moribund economy.  Yet such battles often take place within organizations too. 

A battle between co-workers can devastate an organization just as a battle between political parties can split apart a nation. Let’s just stick with the organization for now as it seems nothing can halt the incessant and ineffective ranting of Congress. 

Current members of all political persuasions could learn a lot from the leadership of former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.  That’s because Lincoln was a real leader and our current members of Congress are not.  This may also be true of some members of your organization.  And it has little to do with advocating one position or another.  Much of its stems from a leader knowing how to turn the tide of opposition.

Lincoln was, in fact, an ardent campaigner, yet once in office he recognized the value of listening to different opinions before making decisions. He willingly faced opposition and challenges: leaders don’t shirk responsibility.  It’s one of the things that made Lincoln a great leader. You probably know someone in your organization who firmly believes in their way of doing things to the point of belligerency.  You need to deal with it. 

Point is, when people disagree they would be wise to take a lesson or two from Old Abe. It is quite possible to turn the disagreeable into the agreeable, keep the peace and further the goals or your company or organization.

Many people are surprised to learn the two principals of BrowningLaFrankie are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Yet our work together never suffers. While one is politically liberal and the other a former conservative radio talk show host, we do not allow our divergent opinions to affect the work at hand. How? We communicate consistently, respectfully and professionally at all times.


To avoid communication conflicts at your workplace we advise:


Listen First. Be calm and listen respectfully to what is being said.

Acknowledge Opposing Communication. You can acknowledge in one of two ways: sincerity or empathy. But mean it when you do: “I can understand how you feel that way” is much better than “Oh, yeah?”

Disagree, But Respectfully. State your reasons based on the facts.

Keep Your Emotions in Check. Don’t fly off the handle. Once you do, you’ve lost nearly all your influence. Apologizing later won’t cut it.

Never Get Personal. In business, it is best to keep personal intent out of the conversation unless it is specifically germane to the subject at hand.

Know When to End the Conversation. It is best to have a plan–even for a short meeting–that clearly identifies your objectives. Stick to it and then end the conversation. Time’s a wasting.

Humor Helps. Susanne LaFrankie will often say she has learned that she is not always right and Darrell Browning is never wrong. He gets it.


For more information see http://www.browninglafrankie.com.


©BrowningLaFrankie 2009


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