Robert E. Lee on Leadership
Effective leadership involves creating direction in achieving the vision, aligning people through communication, and motivating and inspiring subordinates toward a shared vision. Direction helps in creating strategies that work toward a vision, or desirable future state. Alignment of people is achieved through communication of new directions and building a commitment to subordinating self interests in order to further the interests of the organization. The ability to motivate and inspire is what makes an exceptional leader. In H.W. Crocker’s, Robert E. Lee on Leadership, it is evident through General Robert E. Lee’s many leadership roles that he possessed the ability to motivate and inspire. Lee led as a businessman, as a warrior, and as an administrator. His actions in many circumstances throughout his life, exemplify some of the mainstream leadership theories of today. His style of leadership had a uniquely effective quality that is rarely observed. The lessons learned and qualities of leadership recognized from Lee’s experiences are beneficial for leaders of any organization today.
Lee as a Businessman
In the years before the War Between the States, Lee inherited the responsibility of running Arlington plantation, which was willed to his wife by her father. With the plantation, Lee inherited his father-in-law’s debts. Lee’s challenge was to run the plantation successfully enough to pay-off these debts and finance what his father-in-law had willed his granddaughters. Lee became a businessman. He started by defining his objectives, assessing his means, and surveying the difficulties. Lee systematically took on obstacles and cleared away the problems. He was not afraid of hard work. Crocker quoted the Mayor of Saint Louis recording Lee’s efforts: “Lee went in person with the hands every morning about...