Working with what you have

Leadership is the art of executing goals and objectives through the efforts of others. However, we don’t often get the dream team.

Washington encountered this phenomenon, and his advice is good for us today. The Continental Army lacked all of the professionalism and experience which embodied the British forces. Yet, Washington understood two fundamental principles of leadership that proved invaluable.

#1 – Develop Talent

He developed the talent available to him including subordinate officers and an untrained army. Washington said

“Make the best of mankind as they are, since we cannot have them as we wish” (McCullough, 2005, p. 256).

#2 – Don’t Force

He understood that people cannot be forced; they must be inspired if the best work is expected. Furthermore, Washington also said:

“A people unused to restraint must be led, they will not be drove”(McCullough, 2005, p. 293).

“Leaders can instill great confidence […] troops properly inspired […]will often exceed expectation or the limits of probability” (McCullough, 2005, p. 284).

It was through his presence, his passion, his commitment, and his unwillingness to give up even when threatened with the worst of outcomes, that motivated soldiers to outlast and ultimately out-maneuver the richest and best trained force in the 18th century world.

Grooming future talent is the responsibility of a good leader and manager (Drucker, 2001, p. 10). Washington displayed the special knack for understanding the nature of his men. A point that must not be overlooked when contemplating the execution of goals and objectives through leadership techniques.

The Bottom Line

    Leaders must learn how to leverage the talent they are given and not waste time wishing for what they don’t have.