Leadership Profile Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2673 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Military

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Military historians study how being a commander in the armed forces prepares an individual for future positions of leadership. Dwight David Eisenhower, General of the Army and the thirty-fourth President of the United States modeled this theory. In 1941, when he was called on to lead troops in World War II, he did not have considerable hands-on leadership experience. Yet within three years, he was named Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe assuming leadership over the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Was he born with such leadership skills? Perhaps the tendency to be a good leader, but not the ability to use these skills without experience, according to General Lucian K. Truscott, respectively a division, a corps, and an army commander in World War II, who said, "I suppose men are born with traits that can be cultivated in the direction of leadership. But there is also no doubt that leadership can be cultivated. The idea of any man being born an army commander or being born to be a theatre commander, such as General Eisenhower, just isn't so." Leadership characteristics have to include decisiveness and confidence. In most cases, such decisiveness and confidence come from studies and training. The main thing is the individual's basic knowledge and ability to apply this knowledge in a military career (Puryear, 2000, xiii).

Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas on October 14, 1890 to a family that had no military background. When graduating high school, he decided to go to West Point for a solid education. From the start, his optimistic nature made him well liked by other cadets. His empathy and understanding as well as strong self-confidence that refused to succumb to difficulties made him continue to strive and meet his goals (Sixmuth, 1973, 3). He served for a short while in World War I and then influenced by a number of individuals including Generals Pershing and Patton and McArthur.

In 1930 he became special assistant to Chief of Staff MacArthur, who was struggling to keep the Army on budget during the Depression. Eisenhower's work mobilization studies and the relationship of military power to the country's industrial capacity. MacArthur recognized Eisenhower's talents, remarking that his principal strength was an ability to look at problems from the point-of-view of the high command. When MacArthur went to the Philippines as military adviser, he took Eisenhower along as his assistant. When returning in 1939, Eisenhower briefly commanded a battalion of the 15th Infantry and later became chief of staff of the 3d Infantry Division at Fort Lewis and chief of staff of the newly activated IX Corps and finally as chief of staff to Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger.

Eisenhower believed that the discipline and traditions of present citizen army were not prepared for mobilization. In addition to thorough training, they needed to understand the rationale behind their responsibilities as soldiers. He knew from the history of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars that "Americans either will not or cannot fight at maximum efficiency unless they understand the why and wherefore of their orders" (Sixmuth) He stated:

The army should not be coddled or babied, for that does not produce morale, it merely condones and encourages inefficiency. But the army should be taught to respect itself and to render a quality of service that will command respect throughout the nation. Thus the population will come to look upon the uniform as the badge of loyalty, of duty, and of efficiency, and this feeling will be reflected, inescapably, in still higher performance in the army. At Ease, p. 170

He also recognized the problems of having officers with little practical experience struggling with command of combat units. Success in higher command, he stressed, required orderly and logical officers yet not slow and methodical, and who struck found the right balance between charisma and empty superficiality.

Eisenhower recognized that primary goal of training had to be to harden the troops and to teach them how to protect themselves. At the same time, he ensured that officers understood their roles and useless officers were eliminated. He wrote of this time: "During maneuvers, my tent turned into something of a cracker-barrel corner where everyone in our army seemed to come for a serious discussion, a laugh, or a gripe...But I never discouraged those that came to complain for I was often astonished to see how much better they worked after they had unloaded their woes (ibid 243). Similarly, he assumed his own responsibilities to those whom he commanded: Papers I, No. 506 "...it is essential that final authority in all matters in that theatre rest in me, subject only to the combined Chiefs of Staff and the President..." is character. Leadership is actually the unconscious expression of the leader's character and personality. As Eisenhower stated: "Character in many ways is everything in leadership. It is made up of many things, but I would say character is really integrity. When you delegate something to a subordinate, for example, it is absolutely your responsibility, and he must understand this. You as a leader must take complete responsibility for what that subordinate does" (Peryear, 2000, pg.5).

Selflessness was another aspect of this character for military leaders that Eisenhower said was a necessity. He reflected in his book at Ease. "Washington was my hero.... The qualities that excited my admiration were Washington's stamina and patience in adversity, first, and then his indomitable courage, daring and capacity for self-sacrifice." General Marshall recognized that self-sacrifice, or selflessness, was a quality Eisenhower possessed. As Ike once related: "One thing that General Marshall despised more than anything else was anyone thinking rank -- looking out for himself... This man came in and told Marshall all the reasons why he needed to be promoted." Marshall was extremely angry and said, "Now look, the men that get promoted in this war are going to be the people that are in command and carry the burdens.... The staff isn't going to get promoted at all."

When Marshall then accused Eisenhower of something similar, the latter retorted: "General, you are making a mistake. I don't give a damn about your promotion and your power to promote me. You brought me in here for a job. I didn't ask you whether I liked it or didn't like it. I'm trying to do my duty.'... "I saw a faint smile on General Marshall's face. I had the grace to smile myself. I knew I had made an ass of myself." From then on, Marshall began promoting Eisenhower (Purseyer 2000, p8)

In fact, selflessness and integrity was integrated into all of Eisenhower's life: Certainly Ike's concept of duty, of service before self, was illustrated while he was stationed in the Philippines when he turned down several lucrative job opportunities in civilian life and private industry. He refused to accept corporate directorships and turned down "deals" and endorsements.

Be careful, Eisenhower warned his friend General Pritchard, someone may pretend to be a leader but have a fake reputation. But it is not necessary to turn them, since Need will find leaders, but Ike counseled his friend Prichard to get a jump on need by starting to look right now. "While you are doing your stuff from day-to-day, constantly look and search among your subordinates for the ones that have those priceless qualities in greater or lesser degree.... [Y]ou will find greater and greater need for people upon whom you can depend to take the load off your shoulders" (Ganoe)

Coast Guard Academy's Tyler Institute by retired ADM James Loy and author Donald Phillips. The model includes Eisenhower's key leadership elements:

Each person has some innate leadership ability.

Each leader needs several acquired skills.

A good leader needs to be prepared for when opportunity presents itself.

Most of the Coast Guard's 28 leadership competencies relate to the innate abilities and acquired skills components of the Tyler Institute Leadership Model. The model is more generic than the Coast Guard's leadership framework because it is designed for potential adaptation beyond the Coast Guard to other organizations.

Unfortunately, sometimes individuals can be too trusting and give too much responsibility to someone. Eisenhower always appeared to see the best in people and recognize that everyone had some special talent or ability to offer. As noted above, he would not stand for hypocrisy and fakery, but was willing to allow others to demonstrate their unique innate traits.

According to some historians, for example, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had too much say over what the president's actions. Ole R. Holsti's (1974) article, "Will the Real Dulles Please Stand Up," relates how the characters and performance of Eisenhower and Dulles differed significantly. Dulles is depicted as a relentless crusader, whose fervent belief in his own moral righteousness and strong, self-reliant personality" gave him the necessary confidence "to shoulder alone the momentous responsibilities of his office and to face alone the dreadful uncertainties of foreign policy."

Over the years, this controversy has continued, with no one ever actually knowing… [END OF PREVIEW]

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