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George Washington – Business Leader?

Posted November 1st, 2012 by bbsadmin & filed under General Business, Motivation.

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George Washington was a great American hero and our most beloved President. He demonstrated some traits that business leaders today can use more of:

1. Control Power Without it Controlling You

It is evident that he understood how to control power without it controlling him. As the first president of the United states of America he set the standards which would be used for those who followed and took his place. His stepping down from the office of the president, rather than keeping the position indefinitely, shows that he had control of legitimate power rather than being controlled by it. Relating this to business does not mean that corporate leadership should step down after an allotted amount of time, but rather, one must understand what power is and its ethical bounds. Power is simply the ability to do a specific form of work. Washington’s actions give a powerful statement about controlling power. In the history of business we see many examples of companies which perform unethical acts which were mandated by executive leadership. In some cases the consequences have been very large. Two questions must be asked when in power. What is Washington’s desire to have power controlled how he utilized the power he possessed as president? What is he decided to continue to remain in office and gain more power? America would have been very different if this was the case. Executives must ask themselves if their use of power is ethical and if it used to a rational cause or if it is merely a means of gaining greater power.

2. Serve Those You Lead

He knew how to put others before himself which made people respect him. One account that is of Washington helping his men left a heavy log in place. Before Washington had arrived the leader of the men who were lifting the log was giving orders, but not helping. It was a great act of humility and service for Washington, as the commander of the army, to help his men in this instance. He was known for treating even enemy prisoners with respect. A company is made up of people. It cannot survive without the people who make up the company. For example, if a commercial bank lost all its tellers, it wouldn’t matter how great the corporate leadership performed. Many, if not most, people desire to be noticed and appreciated. Serving those you lead demonstrates that one is appreciated and noticed. Genuine service can have a profound impact on others by creating loyalty and trust. Such trust and loyalty can greatly impact a company. Imagine how an employee’s performance could improve when he or she trust and is loyal to his or her leaders.

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3. Confidence

Washington is a great example of confidence. The fight for independence was with a small group of colonies against armies of a mighty nation. It is amazing to think that he could have such influence as to have soldiers follow him into battle under the given conditions. In the world of business we face the same battle. There are often many competitors and substitutes which are sometimes older and have a longer standing reputation. It is important for a corporate leader to have enough confidence to go around the table; confidence in the company, the ideas and the other members of the company. Confidence, it seems, is one of those principles that requires one to be at a higher level than those he or she is trying to arouse enthusiasm in. It is hard to pull someone up higher than you stand.

4. Perseverance

From the battle line and through the Whitehouse, Washington teaches us persistence. The revolutionary war lasted from 1775-1783. It was not a short battle for freedom. When Washington was put into office as president, it was a learning experience. His experience may have been similar to an entrepreneur. He had challenges which came up for example, what should be done with foreign affairs. His persistence was certainly one of the qualities which brought the nation to what it is today. In business, we can follow Washingtons example. There is no prediction of the future and it is impossible to know all there is to know about any given circumstance, but it is important to not let those factors deter one from moving forward and adapting as situations require.

5. “Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession.”

Though competition may not be an enemy by definition, the principle holds true here. It is easier to stay in with the trends of the industry and compete at the front of the battle than the make up for it later. It is a simple matter of evolution versus revolution. Because businesses are made up of people and people can be hard to change, it is easier to evolve little by little than to make drastic changes which will require people to change dramatically.

Notable Quotes

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

“Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.”

“Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”