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Lee & Grant

Profiles in Leadership from the Battlefields of Virginia

Lee & Grant by Charles R. Bowery
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The Overland Campaign of 1864 brought together the Civil War’s two greatest commanders, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, in the longest, hardest-fought, and most destructive military campaign ever waged on the North American continent. Locked in deadly combat, Lee and Grant plotted, maneuvered, and pushed ferociously to win control of each conflict -- the Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, the North Anna, Cold Harbor -- and, ultimately, the nation.

Lee & Grant combines a riveting historical account of the Overland Campaign with a fascinating, eye-opening study in leadership -- as powerful and relevant today as it was on the battlefields of Virginia. Stripping away many of the myths and hyperbole, Lee & Grant delivers a clear-headed account of their successes and failures, along with dozens of leadership lessons that managers and executives can put to use in any organization, including:

Seek a center of gravity: Both Lee and Grant were adept at pinpointing their opponents’ weak spots and designing plans to target them. Keeping your plans focused will help you avoid unnecessary, distracting efforts and expenses. Build a capable staff and let them help you: Challenge your staff to help you visualize and plan. Lee’s reluctance to build a larger staff, or to include them in forming strategy, nearly destroyed him at the start of the war. Lead by example in true crisis situations: By intervening personally on the battlefield and inspiring passion in his troops, Lee was able to galvanize a retreating army at The Wilderness and turn what looked like a significant defeat into a stunning reversal of fortune.

Know thyself! What is your preferred leadership style? What is your default mode under pressure? Do you naturally revert to micromanagement when worried about failure? A clear understanding of your own tendencies will help you make good decisions about leading others. Turn vision into action: Grant’s simple but effective expression of what he wanted to do was the key ingredient to getting the Union army leaders finally working as a team. Stay the course: Don’t let short-term setbacks derail a well-formed plan. It was dogged persistence that made Grant such a great general. In true Grant fashion, he used his tragic loss at Cold Harbor as a springboard to the next, ultimately decisive, phase of the war.

Lee and Grant approached challenges in a fundamentally similar way. They called on skills learned through a lifetime of intellectual and practical preparation, applied those skills through carefully selected subordinates, and drove their armies forward with indomitable will and persistence. Imagine an organization headed by someone who combines the best traits and skills of these two exceptional generals -- unstoppable!

AMACOM; Read online
Title: Lee & Grant
Author: Charles R. Bowery
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