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Phenomenal Leadership: Dwight D. Eisenhower

February 24, 2015 Dilip Barot

Dwight D. Eisenhower was arguably one of the most pivotal figures of the twentieth century. He was the 34th President of the United States of America. He served two consecutive terms from January 1953-January 1961. His two-term presidency was incredibly successful, but he is perhaps best known for his leadership during World War 2. He served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe and had the responsibility of planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in 1942-43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944-45.

Although his resume’ is impressive, we could devote an entire blog series to his accomplishments, his leadership was nothing less than phenomenal. It’s been fascinating to study him as I’ve prepared for this blog entry, and I’d like to share with you just a few of the leadership traits of Dwight Eisenhower that I have found to be most compelling.

He once said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” He had an uncanny ability to motivate people to want to follow him, but just how did he do that? Here is a glimpse into some of his leadership habits that, I believe, were the key he used to motivate people. I came across an article that detailed his leadership style. You can read the article here, but I’d like to highlight a few here.

See and care for your men as individuals: Eisenhower never saw the men he led as numbers. He always bore in mind that each man was a human being with a family and friends back home. In order to keep this at the forefront of his mind, he would often slip away from his desk and, as he put it, “the big shots who paraded through my office” and make his way to the front lines to meet his men. He never saw himself as “above” his men, one might say he saw himself as “one of them” he just happened to be the one making the decisions.

Never Esteem or Place Yourself too highly above your Men-on whom you rely: He certainly demonstrated this belief.

He had a highly developed listening ability: He asked questions wherever he went and he “welcomed complaints” and resolved the problems when it was in his power to do so. I found this particular trait inspiring and convicting all at once. Most of us don’t welcome complaints because it’s easy to see complaints as a commentary on our own leadership failings. That never seemed to be a threat to him; he understood that people made mistakes, himself included, and that mistakes were not failures, but opportunities to correct and make things better.

A Leader Must Always be Optimistic: According to Eisenhower, “Optimism and pessimism are infectious and they spread more rapidly from the head downward than in any other direction.”

Give Your Men the WHY Behind What You Ask Them To Do: Eisenhower firmly believed that people needed a deep conviction in their minds that what they were fighting for was a worthy cause. They needed to know the WHY behind every order given.

Although the corporate world is certainly very different from the military world, people are people no matter what industry or profession. When people believe that their leader genuinely cares for them, the motivation to follow flows naturally.

Dilip Barot is the Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Etech Global Services, and founder of Creative Choice Group, headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  Etech employs 2,500 team members across the US, India and Jamaica.  If you would like to learn more about Etech, contact info@etechgs.com for more information