Dwight D. Eisenhower on Leadership

Dwight D Eisenhower


Dwight D. Eisenhower was a "political" general in the best sense of the word. He knew how to get people to work together as a team. Eisenhower empowered others to do their best. He never forgot his boss was the American people.

Lesson No. 1: Keep Your Word

In the glow of the war's end, President Harry S Truman offered to assist General Dwight D Eisenhower if he wanted to seek the presidency in 1948. "Mr. President," he said, "I don't know who will be our opponent for the presidency, but it won't be I.". Both political parties wanted him to run for president in 1948 but Eisenhower turned them down. After Truman retired, Eisenhower ran for President in 1952 because he felt the leading Republican candidate Robert A. Taft was an isolationist who did not know the realities of the post-World War II world.

Lesson No. 2: A Hero Dies Only Once

As four-year-old Ike explored the backyard of his aunt's home, a pair of geese would charge him every time. His uncle rescued him by giving him an old broom to swing at the geese. Swinging the broom with all his might, he whacked one of the birds on its tail. The bird was so surprised that it returned to its corner of the yard. From that point on, Ike saw that the proper way to deal with an opponent was from a position of strength.

Lesson No. 3: Have An Ego without Damaging Somebody's Self-esteem

Why did people love Dwight D Eisenhower more than MacArthur? According to James C. Humes, an Eisenhower speechwriter, a woman had lunch with MacArthur, the Pacific commander, and supper with Eisenhower, the European commander. She was asked the difference between the two. " When I had lunch with MacArthur, I learned how great he was. When I had supper with Eisenhower, I learned how great I was.".

Lesson No. 4: Prepare for an Opportunity

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first President who was licensed to pilot an airplane. He received pilot's license number 93,258 on November 30, 1939, when he was stationed in the Philippines. He took to the air to cover his military assignments. This hands-on experience enabled him to appreciate the use of aircraft during the D-Day Invasion.

Lesson No. 5: Be a Team Leader

Time and again, Dwight D Eisenhower demonstrated how he could inspire people to work together. He believed in teamwork from his early days as an assistant football coach when he was a cadet at West Point. As the head of allied armies in Europe, he managed to get British and American generals, all with great egos, to become a team during World War Two.

 He managed to get British Lord Montgomery and the American George Patton to work together. Charles De Gaulle, the French personification of ego, trusted Ike. After World War Two, Eisenhower then became the first head of NATO where he got nine nations to cooperate in their common defense.

Lesson No. 6: Do Your Best

Get into the habit of doing more than you are asked to do. If you do the little things well, the big things will be taken care of. Eisenhower took a long time to rise the ranks. He did a lot of unglamorous tasks such as training troops at home instead of leading them in battle abroad.

Eisenhower was a lowly major for many years doing unchallenging tasks in the pre-World War II army. The one thing he told himself was that he must do the best at every job. Eisenhower resolved "to perform every duty given me...to the best of my ability...no matter what [its]...nature." His superiors recognized his excellence and promoted him above many others in the ranks. General George Marshall promoted Eisenhower over 366 more senior officers to take charge of the D Day invasion.

Lesson No. 7: Be a Great Communicator

In 1935, when MacArthur went to the Philippines to take command of the Philippine Army, Eisenhower accompanied him. He became MacArthur's chief speechwriter. As president, Eisenhower would meet with the press twice a week. He permitted his meetings to be filmed and then shown on television. He was the first president to permit direct quotations of what he said at his press conferences. Occasionally, Eisenhower seemed befuddled at press conferences. This was an act to confuse the media when he did not want to release information on a particular issue. He wrote several books including his memoirs without the help of ghostwriters.

Lesson No. 8: Be a Decision maker

Eisenhower was an inspiring and effective leader, indeed a model of leadership. He was primarily a planner, conciliator, compromiser, and public relations figure; but these managerial qualities were essential for the leadership of a vast mid-20th-century wartime coalition. Regarded as a tough, decisive military leader. He was also a man of democratic simplicity and outgoing warmth.

He deliberately projected an image of the folksy farm boy from Kansas. But in fact, he was capable of a detached, informed, and exhaustive examination of problems and personalities, based on wide and sophisticated knowledge and deep study.

He projected a posture of being above politics, but he studied and understood and acted on political problems and considerations more rigorously than most lifelong politicians ever could. As a military strategist, Eisenhower was no MacArthur but as a military diplomat, he had no equal. He made it a habit to save all his doubts for his pillow.

Lesson No. 9: Know Your Priorities

On July 1, 1916, he married Mamie Geneva Doud, the daughter of a wealthy Denver, Colo., family. Eisenhower told his future wife she would be always number two after his country.

Lesson No. 10: Show Sensitivity or Compassion

The first son Doud Dwight or "Icky," who was born in 1917, died of scarlet fever in 1921. Every birthday, Eisenhower would have a flower placed on his wife's bedside. Eisenhower held the dying ninety-year-old Churchill's hand while he was dying.

Summary and Conclusion

Nice people do finish first. By your willingness to delegate to others and empower them, you increase your power.

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