April 17, 2008

News & Opinion: George Washington on Leadership

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 6:13 PM – Filed under: Leadership & Strategy

George Washington on Leadership by Richard Brookhiser showed up on my desk the other day and it looked like a very timely read, what with the debates going on and the United States searching for a new president. So, what about the first leader anyway? Why would anything he did be relevant now? Well, from a business standpoint, he did have two ominous startup companies - the government for the colonies and the first militia. It is amazing how much leadership and drive it took Washington to commit to our little country. We probably take for granted what men like him did, so it's definitely worth taking a second, or even third look back to see what we, in this current age of technology and mass media, can do to be better leaders. Here's a little bit from the book that I found interesting:
People John Guare's play Six Degrees of Separation takes its title from the belief that anyone can be linked to anyone else by a chain of acquaintance consisting of only five intervening people. How many degrees of separation lay between anyone in the late-eighteenth-century America and George Washington? Fewer than six. True, it was a smaller country, but travel was harder, which made it large again. Even so, Washington got around, fighting in five states during the Revolution, visiting all thirteen during his presidency. When he wasn't on the move, people came to him. One evening he noted in his diary, with some surprise, that he and Martha had dined alone for the first time in twenty years. From the masses he met he picked (or Congress picked for him) his assistants and associates, the men he led most intimately. Problems, and a leader's solutions to them, consist of ideas, forces, facts of life. But they are always accompanied by, or incarnated in, people. Judging people accurately and managing them well can make the different between success and failure.
George Washington on Leadership is coming out mid-May and you can pre-order a copy today! By the by, April is National Poetry Month - so, if you have time, check out these books on American poetry:
Early American Poetry by Oscar Wegelin
A Preface to Colonial American Poetry by Wisam Khalid Abdul Jabbar
The Poems of Philip Freneau: Poet of the American Revolution by Philip Freneau
Songs of the South: Choice Selections from Southern Poets from Colonial Times to the Present Day by Joel Chandlers Harris and Jennie Thronley Clarke