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No Substitute for Victory

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No Substitute for Victory

Lessons in Strategy and Leadership from General Douglas MacArthur

FT Prentice Hall,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

General Douglas MacArthur knew how to wield authority. This management advice comes from his war stories. Take notes.

Editorial Rating



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The stereotypical military general wields authority like a blunt instrument: Issue an order and it's followed. The reality of military leadership is more complex, as this intriguing study of General Douglas MacArthur shows. MacArthur took a deliberate, nuanced approach to inspiring his troops. His arsenal included motivation, knowledge, intimidation, praise and self-deprecation. Authors Theodore and Donna Kinni combine a short biography, compelling anecdotes and a keen understanding of MacArthur's career and personality to build this episodic analysis of his approach to strategy, motivation and management. They include relevant study questions after each chapter. getAbstract recommends this to managers who need to take their leadership skills to boot camp and to those who enjoy good military tales.


MacArthur's Strategic Rules

Douglas MacArthur was born in 1880 into an Army family. He served in World War I, became the head of West Point and served in World War II. At 70, General MacArthur remained a force in world affairs as the leader of U.S. troops in Korea. He always employed strategic skills and concepts that still offer useful guidance to managers:

  • "Define and pursue victory" - In any endeavor, the definition of success can differ. If you don't have a clear definition of victory, you cannot win. In Korea, MacArthur knew that he had to outline victory clearly, although this ultimately cost him his job. President Harry Truman defined victory as a sullen stalemate. MacArthur defined it as absolute victory; his criticism caused Truman to relieve him from duty. Korea today remains divided; North Korea remains an international political problem.
  • "Understand the situation" - As a young officer, MacArthur gained a reputation as a leader who went into battle with his troops. He wanted to get to the front so he could evaluate events for himself. Later, when his rank made it hard for him to accompany the troops, he built an intelligence-gathering team ...

About the Authors

Theodore Kinni and Donna Kinni have written 11 books, including 1,001 Ways to Keep Customers Coming Back and Ayn Rand and Business. They also have ghostwritten books for consultants and Fortune 500 companies.

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