Lincoln

Steven Speilberg’s biopic Lincoln starring Daniel Day Lewis dropped it’s first trailer this week and let’s be honest, that guy can act.  And that other guy can direct.  The “somber” epic is rightfully generating a lot of Oscar buzz, and depicts the last four months of Lincoln’s life.  The trailer indicates Day-Lewis used leading historical thought to guide his portrayal, as his speaking voice was noticeably higher pitch than one would imagine, which is apparently how it actually was.  Despite not sounding like Rambo, Lincoln was said to have won over crowds with his sense of ease and the thrust of his ideas.

“It’s not just a feel-good bio pic. I mean it feels great, I think it feels better because it actually delves into something. It’s not just patriotism and icon worship. It really examines him as a human being and all of his imperfections and both his virtues and his flaws. It is a fascinating script. I can’t wait to see it. It is such a brave take. Steven Spielberg, he’s the biggest filmmaker in the world. There would be a lot pressure on him to make a more watered-down version of the story and I think it’s so brave of him to have really done something provocative and interesting.”

So let’s look more closely at Lincoln, from Leadership and Temperament perspective.

Yes, Abraham Lincoln:  is an icon of an age.  A leader for the ages.  Mythology surrounds him, with hundreds and hundreds of books and films about him.  He is immortalized on Mount Rushmore.  Larger than life.  But what of the real man?  Yes, but he was a complex man too.  One can learn a lot about even a wildly famous person by examining their Temperament: to try to separate myth and legend from the real man.  If we ask what kind of leader Lincoln was, we will better understand his character.  Thus:
Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi, two giants of the 20th century! Churchill was the virtuoso of political maneuvering, wheeling and dealing in unending political skirmishes; and Gandhi was the sage of interpersonal diplomacy, seeking freedom and justice for his people by appealing to the conscience of his oppressors. The tactician and the diplomat, diametric opposites in leadership style, yet each able to do for his country something that men of other character could not possibly have done — deliver it from bondage. Equally brilliant leaders, but brilliant in radically different ways.
George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two giants of earlier centuries, each crucial to the survival of the United States of America. Except for a large measure of kindness and great physical strength, these two men had nothing important in common. Washington was a superb logistical commander who, faced with obstacles of incredible proportion and tenure, put in his way by his Congress, his generals, and his fellow citizens, freed his country from colonial bondage. And Lincoln was a superb political and military strategist who, despite the long continued blunders of a train of ill-chosen generals, the weakness of the Congress, and the intrigues of many of his fellow citizens, saved the United States from national dissolution. The logistical leader and the strategic leader, diametric opposites in both attitude and action, yet each achieving the same end, and earning his country’s eternal gratitude. [Please Understand Me II]
Yes, fundamentally different leaders.
Why would these four men — Churchill, Gandhi, Washington, and Lincoln — go about leading their people in such fundamentally different ways? The answer is: Temperament. It takes a certain kind of temperament to achieve certain ends. The steadfast Guardian Washington had precisely the kind of temperament that the War of Independence and the establishment of a republic required, and the pragmatic Rational Lincoln precisely the kind of temperament the Civil War, and the Reconstruction, had he lived, required. Similarly, only an indomitable Artisan like Churchill could have rallied the English people during the dark days of World War II and convinced his wily friend Franklin Roosevelt to throw in with him before it was too late; and only a benevolent and altruistic Idealist like Gandhi could have inspired the Indian people to the swell of passive resistance that ultimately set them free from British dominion.  [Please Understand Me II]
Yes, he was a Strategic Leader: A Rational.  Specifically, an Inventor Rational: a clever mana persuasive man.  Lincoln the Inventor
Inventors are keenly pragmatic, and often become expert at devising the most effective means to accomplish their ends. They are the most reluctant of all the types to do things in a particular manner just because that’s the way they have been done. As a result, they often bring fresh, new approaches to their work and play. They are intensely curious and continuously probe for possibilities, especially when trying to solve complex problems. Inventors are filled with ideas, but value ideas only when they make possible actions and objects. [Please Understand Me II]
And Rationals make the best Strategic Leaders:
The Strategic Leader

[Lincoln] came out in the end, on the issues most difficult for all politicians of his time, at solutions not only expedient but right — so right that, once started, they seemed to have the persuasive power of the simplest axiom.
— Rexford Tugwell

The government and the military of the United States have had their share of Rational leaders. Of the forty-one Presidents of the United States (up to 1998), eight were Rationals, which is twice the number that might be expected based on their small percentage of the population. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Abraham Lincoln were probing, informative, and adaptable Engineers and unusually capable in architectural design and technological invention. John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Ulysses S. Grant, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight Eisenhower were decisive, directive Coordinators and highly skilled in mobilizing forces and contingency planning. All eight were extremely able leaders. [Presidential Temperament]

President Lincoln was utilitarian in his methods and long-term looking in achieving his goals.  No doubt, no other man or woman could achieved what he did at the time: Union did not fall.  Strategic Leadership.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. — Abraham Lincoln

9 thoughts on “Lincoln

  1. Kip Parent September 20, 2012 / 1:05 pm

    Great glimpse if a great leader, Derek. You’ve got me excited to see the movie as soon as it comes out.

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  2. Lisa Weems September 21, 2012 / 11:15 am

    Thanks for the input. In reading and watching documentaries about him, I’ve tended to lean towards seeing Pres. Lincoln as an INTJ. I don’t see the sense of humor in him that an ENTP carries; rather, he carries the penetrating depth of soul that introverted intuition seems to pull out. I will have too look for ENTP traits the next time I watch or read info about him.

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    • David Keirsey September 22, 2012 / 12:50 pm

      Look at Lincoln while as young man: he was quite a raconteur. Politics and the Presidency (through the media) give a slightly distorted view. It is important look at the whole life, not just a few years lighted by conventional history. Hardly anybody realizes that Lincoln was a huge advocate of the development of the railroads. U.S. Grant continued Lincoln’s “technology” program, once he died. Then of course, there was Lincoln’s insistence on Sharp’s rifles, that is a great vignette.

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  3. Hank Johnson September 22, 2012 / 10:15 am

    Is it true that the Keirsey-verdict on Lincoln has evolved over time from INTP to ENTP?

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    • David Keirsey September 22, 2012 / 12:54 pm

      We determined that Lincoln was an Engineer (NTP) in Presidential Temperament, but I vaguely assumed he was an Architect. I refined his type to Inventor Rational, once I focused on him years later. My father’s biggest mistake in typing — involves Lincoln but luckily there are very few first edition hardbacks of Please Understand Me around — I give you this clue, so if you really are interesting in finding fault with our guess, you can find it. Mistakes were made, but not by me 😉 (hint, Tavris and Aronson, is a must read)

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  4. Larry Woods September 29, 2012 / 8:07 am

    Lincoln was known in his lifetime as a hilarious and ribald story teller. Or so I have read. He looks so somber because cameras then required holding still for a long time (smiling pictures of anyone from that time are very rare); and of course he was most photographed in the middle of the Civil War.

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  5. jason taylor October 14, 2013 / 4:55 pm

    You know the part of the movie I loved best was Tommy Lee Jones’ answer to the congressman who asked if he believed in equality. While this was a movie, one can imagine it in real life. They don’t do parliamentary insults like they used to.

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