When a long term client requested we write another leadership book in 2018, the team at LEADon® felt complimented—but we had no plans to put “pen to paper” any time soon. We were in the midst of revamping our website while also completing the filming of over thirty online courses. Members of the team were tired, and we also wondered at that point if we had anything fresh to add to the leadership landscape.
Yet once we wrapped up our online projects, a research opportunity offered at Mount Vernon sparked an intriguing idea. What if we wrote about a legendary leader who dealt with his fair share of difficult circumstances? After visiting the first U.S. president’s home again, surveying his book collection and some rare documents at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, that idea morphed into a new manuscript. While excited about the project, your authors contemplated some of the same questions you may be considering:
- How could someone from the 1700s impact the outlook of those of us living in the twenty-first century?
- What leadership strategies could an individual who never owned an electronic device nor traveled globally offer modern-day leaders?
- Even with his numerous accomplishments, how can we come to terms with his leadership failures? Are there lessons to be learned so we can make better choices in the times in which we live?
As you’ll discover in Revolutionary Leadership: Transcendent Lessons from the Life of George Washington (Wilke & Wilke, 2023), both his successes and shortcomings make POTUS1 an invaluable source for acquiring leadership skills that are needed now more than ever. Drs. Steve and Rebecca Wilke reveal how Washington’s personal and professional choices not only profoundly impacted his life but also innumerable individuals in his era—and ours. Indeed, today’s leaders will glean new insight and practical strategies in each chapter, which include topics like:
- Developing 20-20 vision
- Marching to the right mission
- Improving resilience
- Fostering adaptability
- Cultivating key relationships
- Finding and/or becoming a qualified mentor
- Creating a legacy that truly lasts
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 3, “Rigor Wins Over Rhetoric,” to give you a glimpse into Revolutionary Leadership to determine what it can offer you and your team:
If you’ve noted this lack of rigor among your ranks, you are not alone. Over the past several years, the term grit has been a popular topic of discussion among leaders of multiple industries and halls of higher learning. Many of these leaders have been concerned about existing and future employees who seem to lack the tenacity and resolve of previous generations. In her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth sums up research on this topic. In Duckworth’s view, tenacity is vital for long-term success and, strikingly, “grit may matter more than talent” (2016, p. xv).
Duckworth’s sentiments certainly resonate when we consider the life of George Washington. While he eventually proved to be an extremely gifted leader, talent alone cannot explain his extraordinary accomplishments. Instead, it seems that the years of struggle, from the wilderness of the Ohio Territory to multiple military and political battlegrounds, forged Washington’s character and provided innumerable opportunities for grit to be woven into his overall nature.
Like many in his generation, Washington had no other option than to journey on horseback in order to travel long distances. Over time, he became an exceptional horseman. His equine capabilities helped in his many exploits, including the first surveying expedition he undertook beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains at the age of sixteen. As Chernow described it, this was “a raw, violent world such as Washington had never experienced before, but he adapted to it with remarkable speed and aplomb and quickly grew inured to hardship” (2010, p. 19). Several years later, Washington found himself in that harsh territory again. He had successfully delivered a letter to the French, but on his return trip in the dead of winter, the horses he and his guide were riding struggled in the mounting snow. Rather than turn back, the two men traveled the rest of the way on foot, traversing frozen rivers to make their way home. It was a “survival of the fittest” moment, which added to Washington’s strength of character and leadership skill sets.
While our lives differ significantly from those of George Washington’s time, twenty-first-century leaders will, in one way or another, experience their own type of “wilderness” experiences. Yet it is in those times of struggle that the most invaluable lessons can be learned, perhaps the greatest of which is that character is formed in the crucible of life’s challenges. This character development adds to our capabilities now, and it will be critical for challenges we will face in the future…
Our hope is that you will be inspired by the lessons we’ve developed for you in Revolutionary Leadership. Primarily, we believe you’ll discover George Washington is far more than an aloof character from ages past. This legendary leader had to make his own destiny while battling personal demons rarely discussed in history books. His work ethic and personal ethos eventually allowed him to inspire others so they too could survive some of the most challenging circumstances life has to offer. And have no doubt, Revolutionary Leadership addresses his leadership failures head on—not to diminish Washington’s accomplishments but instead to offer insight so that leaders can make the best personal and professional decisions possible in the times in which they live.
Are you looking for practical ways to become a more “revolutionary” leader in 2023 and beyond? Do you want to develop a Corporate Family® that is resilient, adaptable, and relationally aligned and attuned? If so, click here to discover how you can get a copy of Revolutionary Leadership: Transcendent Lessons form the Life of George Washington. We also recommend you visit www.LEADonUniversity.com for additional resources that can assist you, your team, and your entire Corporate Family in the days, weeks, and months ahead.