American Generalship: Character Is Everything: The Art of Command

By Edgar F. Puryear Jr. | Go to book overview

Chapter 2: Decision: The Essence of
Leadership

Making decisions is of the essence in leadership.

-- General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

In my discussion with General Eisenhower he commented, "I have pondered the question of leadership quite a bit, and I think I can come back to take as my starting point the statement that Napoleon is reputed to have made: 'Genius in leadership is the ability to do an average thing when everyone around you is going crazy and [is] at least hysterical.'

"When you come right down to it, leadership is, of course, being exerted all the time in the capacity of boosting morale, confidence and all that, but leadership is most noticeable when tough decisions finally have to be made. This is the time when you get conflicting advice and urgent advice of every kind. Now this is the kind of leadership that's often concealed from the public. . . . But making decisions is of the essence in leadership -- that is, handling large problems whether or not you are at war or at peace. When you make these decisions it is not done with any reaching for the dramatic. It is almost everyday and commonplace. You reach a conclusion based upon the facts as you see them, the evaluations of the several factors as you see them, the relationship of one fact to another, and, above all, your convictions as to the capacity of different individuals to fit into these different places. You come to a decision after you've taken all these things into consideration. Then you decide and say, 'That's what we'll do.' " 1

The position of command is a lonely one. At no time does a leader feel loneliness more deeply than when having to make a critical, high-level decision dealing with life and death, success or failure, victory or defeat. It is an overwhelming responsibility that few people desire and for which considerably fewer people are qualified. But making decisions is part of leadership; in time of war the general who

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American Generalship: Character Is Everything: The Art of Command
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Chapter 1: Selflessness 1
  • Notes 41
  • Chapter 2: Decision 44
  • Notes 75
  • Chapter 3: "Feel" or "Sixth Sense" in Decision Making 77
  • Notes 105
  • Chapter 4: Aversion to "Yes Men" 108
  • Notes 140
  • Chapter 5: Books 142
  • Notes 184
  • Chapter 6: Mentorship 188
  • Notes 233
  • Chapter 7: Consideration 236
  • Notes 259
  • Chapter 8: Delegation 261
  • Notes 282
  • Chapter 9: Fix the Problem, Not the Blame 285
  • Notes 299
  • Chapter 10: Reflective Descriptions of Character 301
  • Notes 335
  • Chapter 11: the Pattern 338
  • Notes 362
  • Index 367
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