Friday, July 09, 2010

Lead Like Ike by Geoff Loftus

Over the last couple of decades, there has been a number of management books published under the general title “Leadership Lessons of . . . (add any name—Attila the Hun, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln).” Some are more successful than others. Lead Like Ike is one of the best.

Geoff Loftus takes a look at the historical record of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s leadership of the Allied military organization that launched the invasion of France and led to the unconditional surrender of Germany and draws ten strategic lessons for organizational leaders. Initially, a military campaign as metaphor for business strategy seems a bit whimsical and irreverent--for example, “battlefields” become “markets,” “enemies” become “competitors,” and “general officers” become “executives.” The author makes a good case, however, that Eisenhower tended to think of himself as a corporate CEO, counting the cost of both lives and materiel and how to justify those expenditures to his stockholders, the American and British people.

Although Loftus respects Eisenhower as a leader, he freely critiques his leadership decisions and draws lessons from the bad choices he made. Eisenhower learned from his mistakes, but he was not always quick to apply what he had learned. For the most part, Loftus sees Ike as a principled, competent leader with significant skills in planning, motivation, and execution.

I did find Loftus’ attempts to insert contemporary corporate examples into the narrative to be a distraction, but these might be helpful for someone leading a business. The book is an interesting analysis of a great leader and will be a useful tool for the leader of any organization.

Disclosure: This book was given to the reviewer by Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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