Research Paper: Leadership General Dwight D. Eisenhower Assessed

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Leadership

General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Assessed through the Lenses of Various Leadership Styles

Strategic Leader Competencies

General Eisenhower is one of the most notable personalities in United States history who has managed to leave its imprint on both military as well as politics. Much has been said about Dwight D. Eisenhower as a military and country leader, but new lenses through which to conduct assessments are continually on the rise. In this order of ideas, the aim of this paper is to look at the leadership skills of General Eisenhower through the lenses of strategic leadership competencies. The Strategic Leadership Primer, under the aegis of the Department of Commands, Leadership and Management at the United States Army War College, identifies nine types of strategic leadership competencies, organized under three categories, as follows:

Conceptual Competencies: Frame and reference development, Problem management and Envisioning the future

Technical Competencies: Systems understanding, Joint, interagency, multi-national and intra-agency relationships and third, Political and social competencies

Interpersonal Competencies: Consensus building, Negotiation and Communication.

The leadership abilities of Dwight D. Eisenhower are undisputable, yet, it is also clear that he has made some mistakes in his approach. One such failure is revealed in terms of conceptual competencies, namely the ability to learn from past efforts and mistakes and incorporate the previous experiences in order to maximize the chances of successful outcomes to the current problems. During the Second World War, it meant that situations occurred in which the general's capabilities for frame and reference development were limited. "For Dwight Eisenhower, the learning experience in North Africa was a painfully dismal one of mistakes, uncertainty and tentativeness."

Another example of failed capabilities was given by the implementation of problem management. In this order of ideas, the army led by Eisenhower strived to remove the threat posed by the Spanish Moroccan troops and the emphasis on the more important occupation of Tunisia before Hitler's troops fell short. This basically means that Eisenhower and the other leaders of the Allied Troops were unable to assess the overall situation and identify the most stringent problem, even less to find solutions to the stringent issue. Had Eisenhower and the other military rulers of the World War II possessed more problem management skills and capabilities to prioritize and resolve the impeding occupation of Tunisia, the final outcome of the war could have been a successful one, and would even have been registered quicker, with the death of less individuals and the registration of fewer losses. "We had been unquestionably timid (although far less than Washington) in the scope of our original invasion of Africa. Had we struck out boldly and landed forces far to the east, even in Tunisia… we would almost certainly have been successful."

A final example of poorly implemented leadership is given by the lack of systems understanding capabilities. The campaign in Tunisia also offers the most relevant example in this sense as once the Allied troops reached land, they were incapable of launching military operations due to the shortages in weapons and military supplies. The blame for the situation was put on Eisenhower's shoulders as he had made the previous decision to carry less weapons and supplies, without an actual and adequate knowledge of the system. "To make matters worse, the Allies lacked sufficient vehicular transportation, in no small part because during the Torch planning, Eisenhower had been allotted an inadequate number of ships. Motor transport units and other vehicles were among those that had been left behind in England. Once ashore, the Torch forces had almost no mobility. Like Casablanca this decision, however justified, had its price, and it was Eisenhower who bore its brunt."

The simple fact that the Columbia University in New York selected General Eisenhower to become America's 34th President is based on the belief that he registered numerous successes as a strategic military leader; triumphs were also present in his political career. An example of a fruitful application of strategic leadership competencies is offered by his ability to envision the future. Most of his decisions during the Second World War were based on the analysis of future desires and potential outcomes and decisions were made to satisfy the long-term well being of the United States and international peace, rather than in the benefit of short lived triumphs.

2. Challenges in Military Leadership

Just like all modern day leaders, Military General Dwight D. Eisenhower had to face numerous challenges in his daily operations. During the Second World War for instance, he had to struggle the diverse interest of Allied partners as well as the different ways of resolving problems and the different approaches to military issues. An actual means of handling this challenge cannot be revealed for the simple fact that the many instances do not allow for generalization. In other words, the solution and the approach taken towards differences of opinion between the Allies partners were based on the specific characteristics of each situation. In some instances, the U.S. would recognize the right of other members, whilst in other cases, it would strive harder to impose its views and convince the others of its right.

Another challenge was that of dealing with the people, with emphasis falling on the necessity to motivate the American soldiers. The task of motivating the subalterns is extremely difficult even for the modern day manager, who disposes of a wide array of incentives, but it was even more challenging when the possibility of losing one's life was introduced into the equation. The means of dealing with this challenge were basically constant throughout the entire career of Eisenhower and referred to a behavior that treated all subalterns fairly and equally and strived to reduce the image of the supreme leader that looked down and ordered the soldiers. This approach gained him the respect and subordination of the military crew and the knowledge in this sense had been gathered throughout the previous years of working directly with the staff. "In his early Army career, he excelled in staff assignments, serving under Generals John J. Pershing, Douglas MacArthur, and Walter Krueger. After Pearl Harbor, General George C. Marshall called him to Washington for a war plans assignment."

In addition to his people skills, success was also granted by the ability to promote and safeguard the interest of the country, features which united all Americans.

A third set of challenges is mostly characteristic to the military field and sees that battles often take place on foreign grounds. In other words, the countries fighting for international peace are often forced to go to battle in other global regions meaning that they lose the edge of knowing the land and the advantages that come along. Nevertheless, General Eisenhower continually led the troops to success and this ability was due to intense study of the fields where battles would take place. The study referred to actual research from books, but also discussions with military leaders who had previously fought on the respective fields and were willing to share their experiences. Additionally, in Germany at least, attacks were concentrated in cities and industrial regions in order to generate social and economic effects.

In all situations of different opinions, unfamiliar territory, motivation of the soldiers, but as well as all military challenges, the key to success was that of the possessed high organizational skills. Additionally, the education of the leader proved extremely useful and this did not only materialize in the knowledge gained through university courses, but also the practical knowledge and that gained from reputable military men who shared their expertise and the lessons learned from previous campaigns.

Despite the high leadership skills, some situations proved extremely challenging and the next U.S. president was unable to appropriately handle them. The most relevant example in this sense is given by the delayed attacks in North Africa. Had the American general placed an increased emphasis on the weapon and supply necessities of the army, as well as paid more attention to the arguments of the Allied partners, attacks in the region could have commenced quicker. With the loss of African support, the power of the Axis would have been reduced and the battle in Europe against Germany and Italy would have ended quicker and with less damage.

3. Eisenhower's Ethical Dilemma

Lloyd Fredendall presented a general leadership challenge for Eisenhower because of several reasons. On one hand, L. Fredendall had been, at the moment of his appointment as commander of U.S. Army's II Corps, one of the reputable and experienced officers of the army. His experience as a trainer could not be contested by anyone, however, his skills as a field commander were limited, to say the least, mainly because he lacked the necessary experience in that area. His lack of skills, corroborated with the fact that he was facing one of the most capable German generals, E. Rommel, led to his army's defeat at Kasserine Pass.

The cause of his demise was not necessarily only defeat in this battle. Several of Eisenhower's subordinates, including generals Harmon and Bradley,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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