160 Powerful Abraham Lincoln Quotes On Leadership


This post is all about Abraham Lincoln quotes on leadership.

Abraham Lincoln quotes on leadership.


Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States of America, and is known to be one of the most gracious and influential leaders of all time.

He began his work as president in 1861, and in that time, managed to preserve the Union and make great progress toward abolishing slavery once and for all.

One of his greatest leadership feats was that of the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all slaves in Confederate territory were to be set free.

While this proclamation did not immediately free all slaves in Confederate territory, it was a profound step in the right direction toward freedom for all.

Unfortunately, just a few years later in 1865, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

However, his efforts toward abolishing slavery and holding America together were so powerful and effective that his presidency and leadership style are looked back on fondly even still. 

These Abraham Lincoln quotes on leadership are sure to have you wanting to learn even more about Abraham Lincoln himself.


Abraham Lincoln Quotes On Leadership


Abraham Lincoln Quotes on Leadership

Did you know that keeping the United States unified amidst the Civil War was one of his biggest priorities? Who knows where the United States would be today if not for Abraham Lincoln’s time as president.


1. “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

2. “Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but leave him when he is wrong.”

3. “Tact: the ability to describe others as they see themselves.”

4. “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”

5. “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

6. “You can tell the greatness of a man by what makes him angry.”

7. “Have I not destroyed my enemy when I have made him into my friend?”

8. “Force is all conquering, but its victories are short lived.”

9. “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.” 

10.  “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.”

11. “Avoid popularity if you would have peace.”

12. “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.”

13. “I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.”

14. “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

15. “I would rather be a little nobody, than to be an evil somebody.”

16. “I will prepare and some day my chance will come.”

17. “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”

18. “All I have learned, I learned from books.”

19. “It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.”

20. “Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality.”

21. “I am nothing, truth is everything.”

22. “Important principles may and must be inflexible.”

23. “If any man ceases to attack me, I never remember the past against him.”

24. “Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today.”

25. “I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.”


Whatever you are, be a good one.


More Brilliant Abraham Lincoln Leadership Quotes

It is said that Abraham Lincoln was very good at speaking to the American people and getting his message across. It is no wonder that he is regarded as one of the greatest leaders of all time.


26. “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.”

27. “I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.”

28.  “Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”

29. “The legitimate object of government is to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they cannot, by individual effort, for at all, or do so well, for themselves.”

30. “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”

31. “Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution and will regret it all your life.”

32. “I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”

33. “There are no accidents in my philosophy. Every effect must have its cause. The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future. All these are links in the endless chain stretching from the finite to the infinite.”

34. “I am not concerned that you have fallen — I am concerned that you arise.”

35. “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

36. “Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then… find the way.”

37. “That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.”

38. “You can’t make a weak man strong by making a strong man weak.”

39. “I never encourage deceit, and falsehood, especially if you have got a bad memory, is the worst enemy a fellow can have. The fact is truth is your truest friend, no matter what the circumstances are.”

40. “It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong.”

41. “Your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”

42. “I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.”

43. “As our case is new, we must think and act anew.”

44. “I know not how to aid you, save in the assurance of one of mature age, and much severe experience, that you can not fail, if you resolutely determine, that you will not.”

45. “If there is anything a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance”

46. “If we never try, we shall never succeed.”

47. “Prosperity is the fruit of labor.”

48. “I am always for the man who wishes to work.”

49. “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”

50. “I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false, is guilty of falsehood; and the accidental truth of the assertion, does not justify or excuse him.”


Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.


Even More Leadership Quotes From America’s 16th President

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln is the tallest president in American history? He was 6 feet 4 inches at the time.


51. “Nothing will divert me from my purpose.”

52. “If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.”

53. “When I am getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds about him and what he is going to say.”

54. “No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.”

55. “If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business.”

56. “I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my very best each and every day.” 

57.  “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.”

58. “Gold is good in its place, but living, brave, patriotic men are better than gold.”

59. “You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence.” 

60. “Writing … is the great invention of the world.”

61. “The one victory we can ever call complete will be that one which proclaims that there is not one slave or one drunkard on the face of God’s green earth.”

62. “Suspicion and jealousy never did help any man in any situation.”

63. “When a man hears himself somewhat misrepresented, it provokes him – at least, I find it so with myself; but when the misrepresentation becomes very gross and palpable, it is more apt to amuse him.”

64. “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

65. “By all means, don’t say ‘If I can’; say ‘I will.’”

66. “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.”

67. “The smallest problems are often the most difficult things to deal with.”

68. “The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself in every way he can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder him.”

69. “Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can.”


And this, too, shall pass away.


Leadership Advice From President Abraham Lincoln

Before entering politics and becoming president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was a very successful lawyer. His career as a lawyer helped him navigate his presidency.


70. “Wanting to work is so rare a merit, that it should be encouraged.”

71. “I shall do nothing in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing.”

72. “I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.”

73. “Bad promises are better broken than kept.”

74. “I dismissed you as an example and a warning. … I bear you no ill will; and I regret that I could not have the example without wounding you personally.”

75. “Quite possibly I was wrong both then and now; but … I cannot be entirely silent.”


Go it while you're young!


Famous Abraham Lincoln Quotes

Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 by a man by the name of John Wilkes Booth. The shooting occurred on April 14, and Lincoln died the following day.


76. “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”

77. “He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”

78. “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

79. “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

80. “Whatever you are, be a good one.”

81.  “My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.”

82. “If you are resolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself, the thing is more than half done already.”

83.  “I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.”

84.  “Life is hard but so very beautiful.”

85.  “A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”

86. “We cannot escape history.”

87. “If I am killed, I can die but once; but to live in constant dread of it, is to die over and over again.”

88. “I claim not to be more free from errors than others – perhaps scarcely so much.”


Achievement has no color.


Inspirational Abraham Lincoln Quotes

Abraham Lincoln was a big reader, and he really enjoyed the work of Shakespeare. He liked to incorporate the work of Shakespeare in his speeches and conversations whenever he could.


89. “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”

90. “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.”

91. “I have found that when one is embarrassed, usually the shortest way to get through with it is to quit talking or thinking about it, and go at something else.”

92. “A tendency to melancholy…let it be observed, is a misfortune, not a fault.”

93. “Practice proves more than theory.”

94.  “And this, too, shall pass away.”

95. “Labor is like any other commodity in the market – increase the demand for it, and you increase the price of it.”

96. “I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.”

97.   “Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it.”

98. “Just think of such a sucker as me as President!”

99. “I have a congenital aversion to failure.”

100.  “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”

101. “I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father’s child has.”

102. “All is high hope and confidence.”

103. “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

104. “Every man’s happiness is his own responsibility.”

105. “The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.”

106. “To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.”

107. “We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.”

108. “You can lose everything in life, but not dreams.”

109. “Do good to those who hate you and turn their ill will to friendship.”

110. “I would just as soon die now, but I haven’t done anything yet to be remembered by.”

111. “Fair play is a jewel.”

112. “Be excellent to each other.”

113. “I promise you to ‘keep cool’ under all circumstances.”


In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.


Incredibly Wise Abraham Lincoln Quotes

Most people don’t know that Abraham Lincoln, while an incredible leader, was also a very good wrestler. It is said that out of 300 matches, he only lost one.


114. “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

115. “Go it while you’re young!”

116. “The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.”

117. “That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise.”

118. “Achievement has no color.”

119. “I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”

120. “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”

121. “I am not ashamed to confess that twenty five years ago I was a hired laborer, mauling rails, at work on a flat-boat – just what might happen to any poor man’s son.”

122. “Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out.”

123. “I am slow to listen to criminations among friends, and never espouse their quarrels on either side. My sincere wish is that both sides will allow bygones to be bygones.”

124. “A man has not the time to spend half his life in quarrels.”

125. “Work, work, work, is the main thing.”

126. “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

127. “…with malice toward none.”

128.  “I distrust the wisdom if not the sincerity of friends who would hold my hands while my enemies stab me.”

129. “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.”

130. “I don’t know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.”

131. “Half finished work generally proves to be labor lost.”

132. “Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.”

133. “Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.”

134. “If we have no friends, we have no pleasure; and if we have them, we are sure to lose them, and be doubly pained by the loss.”

135. “The time comes upon every public man when it is best for him to keep his lips closed.”

136. “As a general rule, I abstain from reading the reports of attacks upon myself, wishing not to be provoked by that to which I cannot properly offer an answer.”


It's not me who cant keep a secret. It's the people I tell that can't.


Funny Abraham Lincoln Leadership Quotes

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln’s famous beard was one that he grew out after an 11 year old girl told him he should in a letter that she wrote him?


137. “There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.”

138. “I laugh because I must not cry, that is all, that is all.”

139. “How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg? Four. Saying that a tail is a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

140. “It’s not me who can’t keep a secret. It’s the people I tell that can’t.”

141. “Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new at all.”

142. “You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.”

143. “For people who like that kind of a book that is the kind of book they will like.”

144. “A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.”

145. “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

146. “Tis better people think you a fool, then open your mouth and erase all doubt.”

147. “My father taught me to work, but not to love it. I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh—anything but work.”

148. “Everybody likes compliments.”

149. “No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens.”

150. “If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.”

151. “It is not best to swap horses while crossing the river.”

152. “I have come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying, and for this reason, I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be blockhead enough to have me.”

153. “Every one desires to live long, but no one would be old.”

154. “A chair that reclines is mighty fine.”

155. “I can make a General in five minutes but a good horse is hard to replace.”

156. “Douglas is a great man – at keeping from answering questions he don’t want to answer.”

157. “The Lord prefers common-looking people. That is why he made so many of them.”

158. “I have stepped out upon this platform that I may see you and that you may see me, and in the arrangement I have the best of the bargain.”

159. “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

160. “When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run.”


Which of these are your favorite Abraham Lincoln quotes on leadership?


This post was all about Abraham Lincoln quotes on leadership.


Other posts like this one about Abraham Lincoln quotes on leadership:

125 Inspirational Albert Einstein Leadership Quotes

100 Best Quotes From Leaders Eat Last By Simon Sinek

35 Awesome Movies About Leadership And Teamwork

Top 100 Inspirational Adam Grant Leadership Quotes


Join the Imperfect Taylor Newsletter!

Stay in the know! Every week you’ll receive new blog posts that help you on your personal development journey – from mindset & money to health & career – no topic’s off limits.

Imperfect Taylor in a coffee shop.
Email Address
Picture of About Taylor

About Taylor

A few years after graduating college, Taylor made it her mission to become debt free. After paying off all $60k of debt, she began to blog about what she's really passionate about: personal development. Nowadays, Taylor blogs about the topics of Mindset, Money, Health, and Career for women. Read more about Taylor here.

"It's Per$onal" is a super popular and anonymous blog series about the personal lives and finances of women all over the world. Check it out!

If you like this post, you might like these, too!