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George Washington's Leadership Lessons

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George Washington's Leadership Lessons

What the Father of Our Country Can Teach Us About Effective Leadership and Character


15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

You know Washington was honest, brave and true. Did you know he was an entrepreneur, a mule breeder and a good dancer?

Editorial Rating



This book is rich with colorful vignettes, interesting facts and fascinating lore about George Washington, the first president of the United States. Author James C. Rees (writing with Stephen Spignesi) is both blessed and burdened with an abundance of facts, stories, quotes and tidbits of trivia about Washington. The author works mightily to correlate illustrative incidents from Washington’s life with character lessons for today’s corporate executives. Unfortunately, the connections are often a little forced, although the narrative remains interesting. Some of the things that Rees includes are fresh and valuable, such as his sidebar about Washington’s Revolutionary War spy ring. But others are less compelling, like the verbatim rundown on all 110 of the civility rules that the Jesuits developed in the 1500s to instruct young men. They have passing relevance, in that as a child Washington copied them in longhand so he could memorize them. Yet many of the arcane dictums seem to have little to do with the famed general’s life or character. Still, this intriguing, easy read provides a fond, useful lens for seeing Washington as a remarkable leader and a leadership role model on many levels. If your goal is to learn about leadership, getAbstract believes that George Washington has a lot to teach.


A True Leader

When America’s founding fathers decided to rebel against England and fight for their fledgling country’s freedom, they immediately turned to one man, and one man alone, to lead them in this vital struggle: George Washington. They all clearly understood that Washington was their natural leader. The life of this fabled American hero exemplifies 15 character lessons for today’s leaders:

“Leadership Lesson 1 – A Leader Has Vision”

Although he was a slaveholder, Washington did not like slavery. He once said, “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery.” He freed his slaves in his will. Few of the other colonial leaders took such a bold step, but Washington believed that the new country could not sustain itself as a nation over the long term without eliminating slavery. He also allowed black men to serve in the Continental Army.

“Leadership Lesson 2 – A Leader Is Honest”

During the Revolutionary War, Washington’s troops were poorly supplied and often went abjectly hungry. Nevertheless, Washington did not permit the soldiers under his command to commandeer victuals from...

About the Authors

James C. Rees is the executive director of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, which is now a museum. Prolific author Stephen Spignesi writes often on history and popular culture.

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