One of the renowned historical figures of America’s liberation efforts, George Washington, continues to hold an indelible mark about leadership many years since his time. This is because unlike many leaders, he mastered the art of servant leadership that made him lead Americans into attaining self-independence from the British colonialists. George Washington, before ascending to the glory of becoming the first president, had led his people through a devastating war of freedom. Whilst most emphasis has been put on the post-independence leadership of George Washington, he had begun providing leadership service to his troops long before ascending to presidency.
As a soldier, George Washington was visionary. He realized that the Americans could only attain their freedom from British rule by fighting for autonomy. The British boosted of a well organized, coordinated and well-equipped army. In order to defeat them, he needed to be very strategic in his approach towards the war. Washington realized that the United States was a geographically large region to conquer concurrently with his relatively small army. It was therefore more effective to orchestrate attacks on the British in an organized and coordinated manner. This strategy saw him successfully take over Boston, New Jersey, Princeton and Trenton during the initial years of the War.
With an appointment to head the Confederation Army in 1775, a daunting task had been put in the hands of Washington. He was expected boost the morale of his troops, and mitigate the competition that emanated from his juniors. Washington understood that the best way to lead the army was by example. He fought beside his soldiers in all the battles. He celebrated in their victories but also felt the pain of their defeat. In addition, there were challenges in balancing the interests of the different regions and isolating matters of the army from the politics that dominated the Congress.
Washington embraced the spirit of cooperation as a soldier. As the head of the Confederation Army, he worked together with the French army in an attempt to capture New York from British control. This was not the first time he was doing so. Earlier on, he had participated in the war between the Indians and the French which had taken place between 1754 and 1763. In his position as a commander-in-chief, he showed great flexibility in his ability to work amicably with other troops that were not under his command.
In spite of being a soldier, Washington’s approach was not only restricted to combative skills. He also believed that diplomacy could be used even during times of war. This showed that he valued human life which could be saved by averting a war. Washington was willing to engage in constructive dialogue. However, if the British were not willing to give the American people their self-independence, then he had no option but fight for it. Washington bargained for the maximum possible assistance from the French. However, he also ensured that the American war effort remained his top agenda so as to avoid France dominance in the partnership. His tactfulness and negotiation skills saw him win the trust and respect of the French army.
In conclusion, Washington’s great leadership qualities did not begin with his ascent to presidency. It was a result of the wealth of military experience gained during the early liberation years. The American War of Independence accorded an opportunity to exercise his leadership skills at an elevated position. Current and future leaders need to emulate a lot of the values that he represented during his time as a soldier.
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