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3 Leadership Lessons From Abraham Lincoln

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As one of the most recognizable names in U.S. history, today's leaders and entrepreneurs can learn a lot from President Abraham Lincoln.

The nation's 16th president who was at the helm of a country in crisis during the American Civil War, Lincoln's morals and character proved a strong presence during the turmoil.

Lincoln was primarily self-educated in his early years. He rose to become a lawyer and state legislator before moving to grander political efforts. Honest Abe, as he was known, established the Emancipation Proclamation, which set in motion the ultimate demise of slavery. President Lincoln also was an avid militia expert.

To commemorate what would have been his 204th birthday on Tuesday, TheStreet spoke to a handful of executive-search experts to pull together some of Lincoln's more admirable traits.

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1. He was relatable.

Lincoln was also known to be a decisive leader, but he didn't rely on information that was twice-removed to make his decisions. As an avid researcher and reader to begin with, he often culled information "from the field" before making a decision. And in order to get that information, the president spoke with as many people as possible.

"He met the troops, he visited hospitals and had an open-door policy. That's a sign of a great leader -- welcoming feedback and with that feedback and intelligence they are able to make better decisions," says Steven Raz, co-founder and managing partner of Cornerstone Search Group, which focuses on the pharmaceutical and life-science industries.

"He was one that didn't just sit in the White House. He was known for getting out in front with the troops and common men. I think he believed that a lot of his intelligence and data points shouldn't come from polls or surveys, but hearing it firsthand," Raz says.

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In Lincoln's case, his stakeholders were soldiers and common men, but he also worked hard to get other politicians to his cause to unify the Union and eventually abolish slavery.

Once he received the feedback he needed, he was known for making decisions, even if they weren't the right ones all the time. Even though Lincoln knew he wouldn't get a consensus, especially on slavery, he made the best decision he could based on the information he had at the time.

"The key is not to waver, but be decisive," Raz says. "When you make a decision, you create some sort of momentum. You're moving forward -- even if the course isn't exactly right."
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