Lincoln on Leadership – 15 Principles IT Managers Should Follow

One of my favorite books is Lincoln on Leadership written by Donald T. Phillips. In this book, Mr. Phillips discusses “executive strategies for tough times”. You and your company may be facing tough times, , , recent events have created significant challenges for many.

In this article, I’ll give you the highlights of the 15 strategies. These principles are excellent for IT managers to focus on and can make a big difference in the results you achieve.

First, an introduction to Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln was not always successful. In fact, his career was filled with failure before he was elected 16th President of the United States. As you know, it was a time of internal conflict and by the time he was inaugurated, the Confederate States had already seceded from the Union. Civil War ensued taking more American lives than all the World Wars Americans have fought in combined.

Many believe that Lincoln’s perseverance and focus on the long run for America  literally held the country together, albeit over much war and suffering. In retrospect, he was the right man for the job at the time.

Fifteen management strategies from Lincoln
1. Get out of the office and circulate among the troops
Your people need to see and hear from their manager. It’s difficult to fully gauge and appreciate the work that’s getting done (or not getting done) by sitting in your office. Most of us in IT are shy and more introverted so getting out to visit the “troops” may not be easy for us but it’s necessary.

2. Build strong alliances
You have to have partners in business – at senior management levels, department manager levels, even with employees. Successful managers have strong support and it is these alliances that generate the support you will need, , , in both good times and bad times.

3. Persuade rather than coerce
This is a good one. Ninety percent of us in IT have an authoritative management style. We need to learn how to persuade rather than order. Persuasion requires more communication and helping the other party understand the benefits of our decisions and “what’s in it for them”. It takes more energy, but the results are much better.

4. Honesty and integrity are the best policies
Sooner or later dishonesty is going to be discovered. Treat everyone with respect and professionalism and it pays dividends.

5. Never act out of vengeance or spite
When you do, you make irrational decisions that can undermine your credibility and success in the future. Look for win-win scenarios and understand that for it to be a win-win, the other party has to win first.

6. Have the courage to handle unjust criticism
Tough one for high detail people like we are. We don’t like to be criticized. When a client jabs us from frustration, we must know that this is simply an opportunity in disguise, , , so don’t take it personal. Stay above the fray and focus on the objective. Words of criticism may sting but don’t allow them to prevent you from doing the right thing. Win over an angry client and you may have an ally for life.

7. Be a master of paradox
It’s important to be consistent but at times you need to do things a bit differently. For example, focusing on improvements needed by two different programmers may mean you focus on quality for one and productivity for the other. Lincoln pushed some of his generals to make decisions faster while encouraging others to take more time. Understanding the dynamics of people can help you manage them better.

8. Exercise a strong hand – be decisive
Managers must make decisions and they need conviction and purpose with their decisions. Create a “ready, aim, fire” approach by doing your homework and preparing, develop a plan that will help you succeed, and implement the project successfully. The results will be extraordinary.

9. Lead by being led
Understand what your people need in a leader and lead by example. Doing things that resonates with your people and makes sense to them will help them achieve their mission.

10. Set goals and be results oriented
Managers who create a vision, or strategy, and achieve the results are the managers who we assign more responsibility to, , , and who we look to in tough times to help us be successful. Become a manager who creates strategy, gets it approved, and delivers projects successfully and you will separate yourself from your peers.

11. Keep searching until you find your “Grant”
After several failures, Ulysses S. Grant emerged as Lincoln’s general that was finally able to defeat the Confederate Armies led by Robert E. Lee. Instead of settling for less than expected results, Lincoln made organizational changes in his army at the highest levels until he had the right formula. Circumstances, timing, and personalities all led to the Union Army finally winning over the Confederacy. Grant became the 18th President of the United States.

12. Encourage innovation
Even in the 1860’s, Lincoln understood the importance of innovation and in doing things differently. He gave his generals considerable flexibility to innovate and try things that they thought could make a difference. He encouraged risk taking and took the approach of, “there is more than one way to skin a cat”. Lincoln was truly a manager who empowered others to do more.

13. Master the art of public speaking
Another tough one for IT managers but something that can catapult your career. IT managers who have excellent communication skills are rare. Become one and it can boost your career.

14. Influence people through conversation and storytelling
In other words, don’t dictate things to them – learn to have conversations with your clients and employees. Relating tough issues with stories can defuse a situation and get your point across very effectively. Develop your communication skills to be truly successful.

15. Preach a vision and continually reaffirm it
To achieve your strategy, you have to sell it and reinforce your goals every day, , , and with all parties – department managers, senior managers, and employees. If Lincoln had not “kept his eye on the objective”, the United States as we now know it would be separate countries today.

Lincoln was hated and despised by half the country during his presidency, but his perseverance and commitment led to a stronger more perfect Union. It’s easy to see it was one of the most difficult times for any President. The principles he managed by as discussed in the book can help managers deal with the complex and challenging environments we work in today.

Lincoln on Leadership is a short read and an interesting book. I encourage you to read it and incorporate these 15 principles into your approach to managing an IT organization.

Managing Remote Employees

Last month I released a new training video to my GOLD MEMBER Program titled, Managing Remote Employees. With COVID-19 issues and so many companies working with remote employees, I thought it would be helpful.

Download the 2-page Reference Document that highlights the 45-minute video. Included are 15 tips for working at home that can help you during these times.

Become a GOLD MEMBER for as little as $47.00 with my company’s 20th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL at and access over 200 IT Manager training videos, over 150 tools and templates, and much more.

Merry Christmas – 2019

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas from my family and me. Below is this year’s Annual Sisco Christmas Letter, , , it is the 27th year we have done this.Click Here to view a larger PDF FILE.


Learn how to manage projects successfully in 1 hour

Start managing projects successfully in just 1 hour.


IT organizations have poor track records in managing projects successfully, and this UNDERMINES IT CREDIBILITY. To be successful, you have to be credible and the path to IT credibility is delivering projects successfully.

You don’t need a robust methodology, project management certification, or fancy tools to manage projects successfully. What you do need is a practical process, a little knowledge, and a few tools THAT WORK!

This is exactly what I’ll give you in a 1-hour training video.

Use my proven project management process and fundamentals and you will deliver your next project successfully — GUARANTEED!

That’s right, I’m so confident I can teach you how to manage a project successfully in just 1 hour that I’ll return your money if you aren’t 100% satisfied. No theory, , , just simple and straightforward steps that anyone can use to achieve project success.

3-part program designed to teach you quickly including step by step instruction on how to do everything required to manage a project successfully:

  • Quantifying project objectives and deliverables
  • Defining resource requirements
  • Developing a project budget
  • Calculating Return On Investment (ROI)
  • Creating and managing a project schedule
  • Organizing a Project Kickoff Meeting
  • Holding effective Project Status Meetings

All of this is much simpler than you might think. Once you know what to do and how to do it plus have tools that work, you will be able to succeed.

And when you start delivering projects successfully, it will separate you from others and BOOST YOUR CAREER just like it has done for me.

PLUS A BONUS – my book, IT Project Management: a practical approach and project management schedule templates you can use immediately.


and start managing your projects successfully!

You will receive the following:

A)  1-hour “How To” video on managing projects successfully
B)  E-Book – IT Project Management: a practical approach
C)  Project scheduling template that I use all the time
D)  Sample system conversion project schedule

Weekly Special #3 from the IT Manager Institute

ACE Your Next Performance Review






This week’s SPECIAL OFFER is ACE Your Next Performance Review. Includes a 1-hour video plus BONUS Executive Report that will give you a simple step by step process and tools to help you boost your performance and get great Performance Reviews.

Getting better Performance Reviews leads to more money, promotions and self confidence – ALL GOOD THINGS. Make it happen with insight and resources provided in this package by investing $15.00 in your career today.

$99.00 value for only $15.00

Getting better performance reviews happens when you perform better, but there is much more to it than that. For one thing, your manager has to know you are performing better and unfortunately this doesn’t always happen.

You need to TAKE CONTROL of the situation if you truly want a better Performance Review. The training video includes a 3-part program that will give you exactly what you need to take control and get better Performance Reviews.

The Guide to Better Reviews section gives you a simple step by step process anyone can use to achieve better reviews. These steps helped me go from getting an average review to consistently achieving outstanding reviews. It made a positive difference in my career.

The 20 Tips to Influence Your Review part will also help reinforce the things you can do to improve your Performance Reviews.

Finally, the Task Management & Workflow System provides Performance Planning and Review insight from a senior management perspective of more than 30 years that can make a huge difference in how you go about your work. This section can literally make a huge impact on your career.

This package includes a BONUS Report that will reinforce everything that’s in the 1-hour video plus it gives you a special offer to one of the best organization and workflow systems for IT managers that I’ve seen.

Weekly Special #2 from the IT Manager Institute

15 Key Tools Every IT Manager Needs

Tools and templates can make your work EASIER, help you be more PRODUCTIVE, and reduce STRESS. This week’s SPECIAL OFFER gives you access to what I consider are my TOP 15 IT Manager Tools & Templates at an incredible price.

Included is a 1-hour video that discusses each tool in detail and shows you how to use them plus a download link giving you access to the 15 tools so you can use them immediately “as is” or customize as you like.


Order now below or CLICK HERE to Learn More. Please note, , , the offer on this linked page changes frequently.

Are you using ALEXA at work?

Thought this might be a good poll – “Are you using Amazon ECHO (Alexa) or a similar technology at work?” My doctor has an ECHO DOT in each of his waiting rooms and I can tell you firsthand that it makes it quite convenient to pass the time waiting for his visit. In my case I play Simon & Garfunkle or Beach Boys music.


Using Alexa can go much deeper than simply listening to music. If I were at a corporate office, I would think about putting DOT’s in strategic areas for my employees to access. How many times a day do you think they GOOGLE a question they have or look up a reference to a topic they are working on?

QUITE OFTEN, don’t you think?


Weekly Special #1 from the IT Manager Institute

Interviewing For a CIO Position

This week’s SPECIAL OFFER will prepare you for a CIO interview or other IT level interviews. Plus it includes a FREE DOWNLOAD of my book, What To Look For In a CIO.

Order now below or CLICK HERE to Learn More. Please note, , , the offer shown on this linked page changes frequently.

Manager Takeaways From Tiger Woods’ 5th Masters Win

Tiger Woods may have just completed the greatest comeback in the history of sports. His 5th Green Jacket win at the 83rd Masters has some great management principles worth noting.

Observing things and learning how they can apply to success and management is something I’ve been doing my entire career. This year’s Masters Tournament has some valuable lessons.

Just a year ago at this time the sports analysts were saying, “Tiger may not win again, and he probably will not win another major championship.” My, how much things can change in a year.

Tiger had not won a Masters since 2005 and his last Major win was the U.S. Open in 2008. Health issues leading to four back  surgeries literally crippled the greatest golfer of our time. Eleven years of mediocre play, recovery after recovery, and challenges we probably don’t even know about would be real reasons for most to question any possibility for major success in Tiger’s future.

It was almost prophetic for Tiger to be awarded the Ben Hogan Award for the “best comeback on the PGA Tour” on the evening before the first day of play in this year’s Masters. It was a sign of things to come, I think.

His win at this year’s Masters was somewhat predictable if you look at the trend of his play in the recent tournaments that are  most important on the PGA Tour:
–  2018 Masters*                   T32
–  2018 U.S. Open*             Missed Cut
–  2018 British Open*             T6
–  2018 PGA Championship*          2
–  2018 PGA Tour Championship     Won

* (Major Championships)

Tiger was in contention the back nine of the last round in each of the last two majors plus he won the Tour Championship at the end of the year. His progression was like an army on a force march to the next battle. Even so, the pundits were still questioning his ability to win another major before the start of this year’s Masters.

David Duval, a golf analyst on the Golf Channel and former #1 player in the world, got it right. He picked Tiger to win this year’s Masters Tournament based upon Tiger’s demeanor and how he was going about things. It was not completely about how well he was playing although that was certainly part of it. David’s explanation was that Tiger had the look again and seemed calm, diligent, and with purpose in what he was doing. If you watched the tournament, you could definitely see it.

A key point with this is that your IT Organization’s success is dependent upon how you and your team go about your business as much as what you do. It’s not all about doing things technically correct. Soft skills and communicating effectively make huge differences with your IT support clients.

6 Takeaways from Tiger’s Masters win
There are 6 things I got out of Tiger’s miraculous win that I think are worth noting because they can be beneficial for IT managers to be aware of and appreciate.

1.  Plan – Tiger had a plan. Well, “That sounds obvious!”, you might say. Most players have a game plan going into a tournament. Tiger’s plan was pretty simple and ultimately comes down to this:

  1. Keep the ball below the hole. (Augusta National greens are notoriously fast and putting from below the hole lets you be more aggressive.)
  2. Put the ball in the right spots on drives, iron shots, even on long putts. If you miss, miss it in areas that give you better odds of recovery.

Takeaway:  For IT managers to succeed, you have to have a plan. Those who plan achieve more success.

2.  Preparation – Tiger prepared even when you might not have realized it. In the few tournaments he played leading up to the Masters, he worked on specific shots that he knew would be important at Augusta National. Things like drawing and fading a driver off the tee and moving the ball left or right and high or low as required with his irons. . . in tournament pressure situations . He has been preparing for this tournament since winning the Tour Championship last September.

Takeaway:  Preparation is key to success. Teaching your employees how to prepare and what to prepare for will help your IT organization achieve more success. When they succeed, you can succeed.

3.  Experience – Tiger had to regain the experience of winning. He had to relearn how it feels to be in contention on the final afternoon of a major. He did that with the British Open and PGA Championship last year, then winning the Tour Championship boosted his confidence to a point that he knew he could win major championships again.

Takeaway:  Experience is critical for success and confidence comes with small wins that lead to bigger wins. It’s all about the process of doing the right things that lead to success.

4.  Knowledge – Knowledge and experience played a huge part in Tiger’s win. His knowledge of his game and how he was playing plus considerable knowledge of Augusta National’s course and the greens were big advantages for Tiger in my opinion. He also reinforced within himself to remain patient throughout the tournament, something that’s hard for most of us to do. Even when things were not going as well as planned, Tiger remained patient and stayed confident about the good things that were to come if he kept doing the “right things”.

Takeaway:  In IT, we must gain the knowledge of what is required to support the business so we are in sync with what the business needs and positioned to deliver business value for our clients. It’s not all about technology. Our IT success is dependent upon understanding the business.

5.  Focus – If you watched the tournament, you saw Tiger focused like a laser. One of the scenes I loved was when Tiger and Rory McIlroy were practicing in a bunker side by side on the 2nd day. Rory kept glancing over at Tiger, but Tiger never once looked away from what he was focusing on. He was like that on the course as well, truly focused on what he and he alone was doing.

Takeaway:  IT employees can’t focus if their manager doesn’t provide the focus. Let me rephrase this a bit. Employees will focus on what they think is important; it’s up to IT managers to help insure their focus is targeted appropriately.

6.  Positive thinking – Tiger Woods has a huge capacity for thinking positively. Just listen to his press interviews and you pick it up immediately. I think this has a lot to do with how his Mom and Dad raised him; it’s part of who he is. In one interview after a round where he missed several short putts, he was asked about his putting. His response was,  “My lines are good and as long as I’m leaving myself below the hole like I have been, I’ll be ok.”. . . meaning, he was hitting the putts on his intended line but they just weren’t going in due to speed or a misread. Because he was putting uphill, he didn’t 3-putt much.

Takeaway:  This is key! As long as you are doing the right things and making your best efforts, ultimately you will be successful. It may take a while and you may fail several times before you reach that success, but if you are patient and persevere in continuing to do the right things success will find you.

I can hardly wait to see how golf’s next major championship unfolds and learn from it.

New IT Manager Training Planned for 2019

My main focus for IT Manager training in 2019 will be developing new Practical IT Manager Training Series classes. Plus, I’ll delver 2 or 3 online IT Manager Institute & ITBMC Certification classes this year.

Take a look at the planned classes for the months ahead: