President Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower, a graduate of the US Military Academy Class of 1915, set the benchmark for “Supreme Command” in coalition operations; the standards he articulated and personified in the 1940s continue to pilot senior military commanders. Even more profound than Eisenhower’s intelligence as a coalition commander was his impression in shaping state-of-the-art leadership principles for officers in militaries of a democracy.
One simple solution for surpassing limiting beliefs and making headway toward significant goals in our lives. Eisenhower knew what it took to lead soldiers and build cohesive units at the tactical level; he was passionate about leadership and leader development. Unity of Command was his simple establishing principle, but he knew that placing a single person in charge was insufficient to ensure unity. Today, leader advancement is the core mission component of the Academy.
Goals are about growing. A good goal causes us to grow and mature. That’s because every goal is about the journey as much as—even more than—the destination. And that’s exactly why setting goals outside the comfort zone is so imperative.
We gathered frequently in the dining room of Quarters 100—the elegant residence for 200 years of the Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point—for spirited conversation on history, politics, and leadership. As the Academy Superintendent in the late 90s, we relished this give-and-take. We brought to the Academy some of the best thinkers on leadership; the supper conversation reflected the energy of the participants. A recurrent question was this: “Whom do you regard as West Point’s most distinguished graduate?”
Dwight Eisenhower: History, Politics, and Leadership
The menu of alumni was a rich one: Grant, Lee, MacArthur, Goethals, Groves, Pershing, Bradley, Patton, and Eisenhower, among others. The agreement seemed always to focus on one graduate: Dwight D. Eisenhower, USMA Class of 1915, for his intense command of allied forces in the European theater during WWII. Eisenhower set the standard for “Supreme Command” in coalition campaigns; the principles he expressed and personified in the 1940s continue to channel senior military commanders.
Even more profound than Eisenhower’s brilliance as a coalition commander was his influence in shaping modern leadership principles for officers in armies of a democracy. The strength of a memory is also determined by the emotional state that accompanied the original event. Without question, Eisenhower had no equal in stroking, cajoling, and managing prickly alliance personalities like Churchill, Montgomery, de Gaulle, Admiral Darlan, and Italian Marshall Badoglio—to say nothing of his challenges with George Patton. He was the consummate Supreme Commander.
The eloquent text above is simply for your benefit. It’s not actually part of the template. These beings are kenned by the adepts to be magnetized toward certain quarters of the heavens by something of the same abstruse property which makes the magnetic needle turn toward the north, and convinced plants to comply with the same magnetization. In such a way there is impermanent meaning and true meaning.
Fear usually plays a part in the decisions we make. Probably the biggest fear that you will have to face when making a decision is that of failure. Obviously, the bigger the decision, the greater the downside if it doesn’t pan out. Eisenhower also knew what it took to lead soldiers and build cohesive units at the tactical level; he was passionate about leadership and leader development. As a result of his submissions to Army leaders, Eisenhower influenced not only the formal leadership program of the U.S. Military Academy, but also the leadership ethic for young officers commissioned after 1945. Likewise, feelings, recognitions, volitions and consciousness are empty.
Dwight D Eisenhower Situational Leadership
Dwight Eisenhower’s leadership was is often a value judgment that varies from person to person and for one person from situation to situation. We call it situational leadership:
- Be mellow in manner, tough in deed: Eisenhower had a paperweight conspicuously exhibited on his desk with a Latin engraving meaning “gently in manner, strong in deed.” These are known as secret or insight activities. This reflected his philosophy and style. He was not full of bluster. He never threatened. This is the way of insight.
- Be a guide, not an initiator: Eisenhower once expressed leadership as “the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” This is the field of merit of beings. By vigilant organization and a premeditated crafting of words to hit the right note. When practicing, it is sufficient to just keep your mind on the method. He knew the importance of words— specifically those spoken by the person in charge—to motivate and persuade. There is another problem with the first cause argument. He believed in planning. He thought it was dangerous for a leader to shoot from the hip. We should take this to heart.
- Don’t talk too much: Even with no infirmities, the life of beings is passing. Some people just can’t help themselves and simply start prattling (luckily this didn’t happen to me). Either they’re nervous about figuring out the right thing to say, or they’re panicky about saying the wrong thing. And this full clarity is beyond inner and outer. But, when you talk too much the anguished person will sometimes begin to feel that they must take care of you.
- Know what you don’t know: Eisenhower cherished that his completest resource was not his own brilliance but the talent of his team. It frees a tremendous energy. He once wrote this piece of advice: “Always try to associate yourself with and learn as much as you can from those who know more than you do, who do better than you, who see more clearly than you.” And he understood that autonomy can be defined as the ability to make choices according to one’s own free will. He was a collaborator; and if no such challenge developed in that time, he would presume to be there by right, even though he might not have any life story.
- Don’t let success go to your head: Eisenhower never considered himself to be a hero when compared with the men who landed at Normandy and met the enemy on the bloodstained fields of battle. Soon after the war, he called on General Douglas MacArthur, his old boss, in Japan. MacArthur, impelled up about their success, crowed that as vanquishers either one of them could surely be elected president. It was reported that Eisenhower left that meeting red-faced and angry. He loathed the hero label. When years later he did become president, he was repeatedly disapproved for not being personally dynamic or out in front. He was lavish about letting those around him take the recognition for his ideas. This approach paid off in allegiance and execution. And many made great sacrifices to attend, frequently working his way through military.
In both arenas—supreme command and officer leadership—Eisenhower was a revolutionary. Before him, no U.S. commander had been entrusted with coalition command. General Pershing fought to maintain the integrity of U.S. forces as commander of the American Expeditionary Force in WWI, but he was subordinate to the French Commander-in-Chief; Eisenhower led allied forces from fall 1942, and by war’s end, had over four million men from five nations under his command. His approach to combined command complemented a sophisticated coalition leadership model—a model employed to this day.
Dwight Eisenhower: Unity of Command
Unity of Command was his simple organizing principle, but he knew that placing a single person in charge was disappointing to ensure unity. This had to be exercised through “earnest cooperation,” earned through “patience, tolerance, frankness, and honesty.”
Commanders in the 1990s, General George Joulwan in Bosnia and General Wesley Clark in Kosovo, achieved coalition success despite intra-alliance arguments by sticking to Eisenhower’s maxims. Similarly, two Central Command combatant commanders, Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and John Abizaid, profited from the trailblazing experiences of Eisenhower. Schwarzkopf exhibited a knowledge of alliance understandings and alliance politics by deftly managing more than 30 combination partners in Desert Storm. He clearly personified unity of command. But he knew this could never be effectively exercised unless he had consent of those he led, particularly his Arab partners, and most visibly, the Saudis. Again, Eisenhower’s coalition leadership principles proved decisive—and enduring. And they are reflected in the leadership exercised in 2005 by the Coalition Commander in Iraq, General John Abizaid, a student of the leadership of Eisenhower. After his discussion, his wish got him thinking about which of the three ways we die is actually best.
That these practices are connected with the proper kinds of beings and times is important. Besides transfiguring the doctrine of collective command at senior levels, Eisenhower was zealous about leadership development for junior officers. What he observed in the behavior of many U.S. officers in the European theater disturbed him greatly. Too many officers never identified with their soldiers; they were too eradicated from the needs of their troops. Further, Eisenhower was appalled by the behavior of officers who substituted screaming, even physical abuse of subordinates, for positive leadership. Eisenhower said, “You don’t lead by hitting people over the head; that’s assault, not leadership.” Life cannot be real if relationships are not real.
West Point Curriculum: Practical and Applied Psychology
Eisenhower felt that the West Point curriculum should include coursework in practical and applied psychology to “awaken the cadets to the necessity of handling human problems on a human basis,” and thereby improve leadership in the Army.
Eisenhower’s suggestion was soon followed by the establishment at the Academy of the Department of Behavioral Psychology and Leadership. For more than 50 years, it has instilled in cadets the principles of small unit leadership.
Instead of ignoring parts of the orchestra, a symphonic life of Dwight Eisenhower consists of five habits that ensure harmony:
- Anyone who has the self-control to steep his noetic conceptions in them may be sure that in a shorter or longer time they will lead him to personal vision.
- If your culture supports open dialogue and learning from mistakes, public commitments and public results can fire up morale.
- Contrary to the popular exhortation, people do judge books by their covers. That’s why it’s important we select the right one for this book.
- The moments of break-through where real change happens aren’t typically instant and extraordinary. They usually happen gradually in the ordinary course of our lives.
- One of the most obvious things about the future is that we are not there yet. The question for us as we start a small unit leadership is whether to drift or direct our lives where we want them to go.
Today, leadership development is the core mission component of the Academy. The emphasis is on values, inspiration, and imagination. Eisenhower knew these could not be created in the cerebral equivalent of a strait jacket, with rote, mechanical instruction disconnected from the human problems of the individual soldier. In other words, we need to think about what we want to be true of us when it’s all said and done. Once that picture is in mind, we review the steps that journey requires and live them forward. Then comes the hard part.
The Supreme Commander who associated with his troops shaped the leadership ethic of my generation. Eisenhower took the time to write to parents of his soldiers, to talk to 101st Airborne Division paratroopers prior to their DDay jump, to prescribe leadership doctrine while he commanded millions. He was, in short, encouraging. And he personified the essential bond—trust. His soldiers trusted him because he exuded the values of integrity and respect—values that remain the core of our Army’s leadership principle.