The Art of Command: Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell

The Art of Command: Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell

The Art of Command: Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell

The Art of Command: Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell

Synopsis

What essential leadership lessons do we learn by distilling the actions and ideas of great military commanders such as George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Colin Powell? That is the fundamental question underlying The Art of Command: Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell. The book illustrates that great leaders become great through conscious effort -- a commitment not only to develop vital skills but also to surmount personal shortcomings. Harry S. Laver, Jeffrey J. Matthews, and the other contributing authors identify nine core characteristics of highly effective leadership, such as integrity, determination, vision, and charisma, and nine significant figures in American military history whose careers embody those qualities. The Art of Command examines each figure's strengths and weaknesses and how those attributes affected their leadership abilities, offering a unique perspective of military leadership in American history. Laver and Matthews have assembled a list of contributors from military, academic, and professional circles, which allows the book to encompass diverse approaches to the study of leadership.

Excerpt

In March 1969, I, along with two dozen other young men, stumbled off a chartered bus in front of the white World War II–era barracks at Fort Lewis, Washington. Waiting for us and already barking orders was Drill Sergeant Mata. I had joined the United States Army. I was a volunteer, a private who planned to serve his three-year enlistment and return home to Oregon. (Two weeks after entering boot camp, I received an official induction notice in the mail.) Unbeknownst to me, boot camp was actually the start of a thirty-eight-year military career— a four-decade journey of public service and leadership development.

The year 1969 was the midpoint of the cold war and the peak of the Vietnam War. Four years earlier, in Vietnam’s Ia Drang Valley, Lieutenant Colonel Harold “Hal” Moore had exercised masterful leadership that resulted in America’s first major battlefield victory in that long and bloody conflict. As a new recruit, I knew little of Vietnam or military leadership, but I quickly embraced the culture of duty and honor that is the core of America’s armed forces. Remarkably, twenty-five years after my enlistment, I would lead two of Hal Moore’s sons, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Moore and Colonel Dave Moore. For me, the Moore family embodies the selfless values taught, learned, and practiced by the best leaders in our country’s military.

During the course of my career, I had the tremendous benefit of being stationed in various billets around the world. I served under and with numerous superb commanders, each of whom influenced my own leadership development. During my tour as a staff officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for example, I came to appreciate fully the complex and innumerable challenges faced by high-level military leaders. During this time, the Joint Chiefs, chaired by General Colin Powell, oversaw Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Desert . . .

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