Simply based on the fact that he is known as The Father of Our Country, one can assume that George Washington was a great leader. We all know some history about him, but how much do you really know about his leadership style, how it made him so successful, and what can be learned from it?
Let’s do a short history review:
- He served in the French and Indian war and was appointed commander of the Virginia militia.
- He led the colonial forces to victory over the British during the American Revolution in spite of horrible conditions.
- He was elected president of the convention that wrote the Constitution.
- He was elected America’s first president and served for two terms.
- Under his leadership the Bill of Rights was ratified.
- The nation’s capital is named after him.
His presidency was marked by many other accomplishments, including the establishment of the country’s first national bank, the appointment of the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, and the signing of the nation’s first copyright law.
Characteristics of George Washington’s Leadership
First of all, George Washington is known generally for his great character, not the intelligence and education that many of his peers possessed. His brilliance was in his leadership, which was a product of his charm, energy, commitment, experience, and courage. Let’s explore his leadership style.
- Vision. First and foremost, George Washington knew that his presidency would set a precedent for future presidents, and he took the responsibility seriously. His vision was for the future of the country, so he was determined to set an example by leading prudently, fairly, and with the utmost integrity. A visionary leader has clear goals and never wavers from those goals, even if they cannot be achieved in the short term and designs his organizational culture to realize his vision by making it a shared vision of all the members of the organization. Examples of his vision start with the war – he was determined to win, no matter how long it took, and the reason for the war was liberty. Period. Then, in creating the new government, the goal was to create a country ruled by the people for the people. His bigger vision was that America would be a country that contributed not only to the well-being of the people of the country, but to the well-being of the world.
- Integrity. As a leader, the people that you are leading must believe in you. During the war, both soldiers and civilians persevered and followed his vision and goals because they trusted him. When soldiers with short term enlistments were ready to leave the cause, he persuaded them to stay. They stayed because he led them to believe in the vision, and in him. Another example was during the Battle of Monmouth, when American troops were in retreat until Washington took control and stopped the retreat, leading to the retreat of the British troops to New York. The entire group, again, followed his vision because they trusted him.
- Great politics. Great politics (what they are supposed to be) is the ability to understand and reconcile varying ideas, and Washington was a master at that. During the constitution convention, he organized the proceedings and met privately with those involved to shape their ideas into what would become the final document. In every aspect of his leadership, Washington always looked to the ideas of others, empowering them to share and contribute, while never wavering from his vision.
- Temperament. Washington had several characteristics, long before he was a leader, that led naturally to his leadership style. He was known for his patience, drive, attention to detail, strong sense of responsibility, and firm moral conscience. All of these characteristics drew people to him and contributed to their trust in him. He was honest, as we know, and selfless, acting for the greater good while standing firm with his ideas.
- Humility. Washington never sought credit or accolades for his accomplishments. His goals were not personal – he was not in it for himself. He had to be persuaded to accept the presidency. His goal was to achieve his vision for the good of everyone, even if no one ever recognized that he was the driving force behind the vision.
All of these leadership characteristics of George Washington have a common theme – trust. People trusted him, believed in his vision, and followed his leadership in all settings. This speaks volumes about George Washington the person. Before he was a great leader, he was a great human being. That was the real key to his success.
“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” – George Washington
At C-Suite IMPACT We Value Character
At C-Suite, we strive to have and show great character in all that we do, and to inspire trust. We seek to emulate great leaders like George Washington and apply what we learn from them every day. We would love to be a trusted part of your management team and help you to achieve your vision. We have a suite of resources in our portfolio that you can access for all of your business needs and will provide guidance and support for the health and growth of your company. Call us today to learn more.