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5 Leadership Lessons from George Washington

5 Leadership Lessons from George Washington

With another President’s Day arriving, I am reminded of some of the leadership lessons that I have learned about George Washington. The ones that come to my mind are just as relevant today as they were in the late 1700’s.

Constant Learning

George Washington’s father died in 1743. His family’s fortune did not allow for George to go to England for college and formal education. After his father’s death, George immediately started his own educational program of reading and self study; he studied every topic from farming to mathematics. George’s self guided education lead directly to his first career of being a surveyor.

Try new things

In 1792 George Washington designed a new type of barn for one of his farms. This 16 sided barn would combine an upper floor that would use horses to tread on wheat. The grain would then fall through spaces in the floor to a granary underneath for storage until it would be taken to the mill.

The treading or separating of grain could take place inside out of the weather and the granary below the treading floor reduced the amount of handling of the grain.

Never Give Up

We know that George Washington lead the Continental Army to ultimate victory at Yorktown. However, a lot of people do not know that George lost more battles than he won.

Through all the losses and set back that George Washington experienced as a commander, he never lost sight of the strategic vision of how to secure the nation’s freedom. George Washington’s ability to maintain the army’s morale, bring the best and brightest into service and rally his men while under fire are some of his greatest military skills.

Support your lieutenants

Early in the American Revolution, the Continental Army surrounded Boston, where the British were situated. The only way to displace the British was by threatening and using cannons to force their retreat from the city. The only problem was that the Continental Army did not have any cannons.

Henry Knox, one of Washington’s lieutenants, suggested that if the Continental Army was to capture Fort Ticonderoga which was located in upstate New York, then the cannons could be brought to Boston and used against the British.

Washington supported Knox’s plan resulting in Knox capturing the fort, transporting the cannons to Boston and forcing the British to leave.

Compromise when necessary

After the American Revolution, the British and French entered into another war. There were members of George Washington’s cabinet that wanted the United States to enter the war in support of England. Washington also had cabinet members, such as Thomas Jefferson, that wanted the United States to enter the war in support of France. Washington however, wanted to keep the country out of the war. The French ambassador had requested an audience with President Washington. If Washington granted the audience and the resulting outcome of the audience could result in mass resignations from members of either camp.

Washington knew that he was walking a fine line and could easily alienate or loose part of his cabinet if he did not seek a compromise. His compromise was to have an audience with the ambassador but kept the meeting time short and did not warmly receive the ambassador. As a result, Washington did not lose any of his key cabinet ministers.

Coach’s Wrap Up

Washington provides so many examples of leadership that it is hard to list just a few. If you have not studied George Washington’s life, it would be worth the time to invest in and read a good biography of not just his military and political life, but also of his farming and entrepreneur life as well.

What lessons have you learned from
George Washington or any of our former Presidents?

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