I have just finished reading Valley Forge by Newt Gingrich & William R. Forstchen. Approximately 2500-3000 American soldiers died from exposure, disease and starvation during the winter of 1777-78. Yet, in June of 1778, they came out of that winter and held their own against a well-trained, well-fed and well-equipped British army at Monmouth Court House (NJ). It was at Monmouth that the Continental army learned that they could win on the battlefield and could in the end win their independence.
The British expected the Continental army to fold after their devastating winter at Valley Forge. Instead, the army came out stronger and eager to fight. Why? Leadership. Excerpts from the book:
About General Marquis de Lafayette:
“…he sought no rank whatsoever and would fight as a private volunteer.”
“While other generals were quick to find dry, warm quarters, Lafayette could often be found out on the picket line in the very eye of a driving storm….”
About Baron Friedrich von Steuben:
“You do not win allies by berating them and showing them their shortcomings. You win them by offering your hand.”
“…a good officer will find that a private sees far more than an officer at times.”
About George Washington:
“He had long drilled himself…to not think of himself….”
“One ill-chosen response, one flash of temper, of self-serving behavior or blame-casting, one day of failed leadership could shatter the fragile core that held this army together.”
These excerpts speak for themselves. Lafayette, Steuben and Washington. Don’t you wish we had leaders like this in Washington…in corporations…in churches?
© Copyright 2011 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
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"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner