What it actually takes to be considered a strong and efficient leader is a question that is at times misconceived. Good leaders must possess a variety of skills and character attributes because it’s bigger than just giving orders or leading subordinates. Effective leaders must know and understand how to receive and execute orders before they can expect their subordinates to do so for them, for this to happen they must understand a subordinate’s position. The ability to “adapt and overcome” to situations is another skill that not just anyone possesses, but leaders must have in order to compose themselves so that they can effectively lead those following them. Leaders must possess an adequate amount of confidence in themselves in order to have confidence in what they are trying to delegate, as well as execute, among many other traits and characteristics leaders must possess to be effective.
So how leaders are molded or formed into what they are, is the big question. George Washington leads an army of men, and eventually a country of people, but what led him to be the great leader that he was for this great nation some might ask.
In 1755, George Washington became the commander of the Virginia military, with having no military experience. Washington failed as a young officer in the French and Indian War, but he didn’t let his failure define him. But as he got older, he showed great leadership in the Valley Forge by taking bad situations and turning them into a huge turning point for his forces. During the constitutional convention, Washington’s leadership was the key. Once George Washington became president his main focus was to unite the country and avoid partisanship and establish the supremacy of the federal government in the Whiskey Rebellion. He wanted to leave the nation with solid guidance in his farewell address.
The French and Indian War took place in 1754 when Washington was serving as a young lieutenant. Washington was a young ambitious officer and was determined to learn how to lead the soldiers that fell under him. Being able to lead in the French and Indian War gave him the militia experience and influenced Washington to re-examine his personal goals as a young leader.
Being a young leader Washington was tasked with a mission with delivering a message from Lt. Dinwiddie notifying the French to remove themselves from the Ohio River Valley. Washington took a small group of men with him to complete the mission. The mission took several weeks until they were able to reach to French soldiers. Once the message was delivered the French rejected the demand. Washington’s mission was accomplished, he and his men had to travel back home in the brutally cold weather barely making it back. Once Washington made it back home, he spoke about his successful journey.
In 1775 the Continental Congress appointed George Washington Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. After Washington became the commander, he led troops into the winter quarters at the Valley Forge, during this time he showed great leadership by having troops construct 1,500 to 2,000 log huts that were able to house 12,000 soldiers. He made sure his troops had some type of shelter from the cold weather. But his soldiers seemed to think otherwise. After losing battles and with the British capture of the patriot capital, Washington troops started to believe that he was incompetent as a leader. During this time the winter was harsh on the soldiers; soldiers started dying because they didn’t have enough funds to supply proper clothing, which also made the soldier unfit to serve. There wasn’t a lot Washington could do with an insufficient amount of money.
After winning the American Revolutionary War Washington believed his duty was done, his intentions were to return home and be with his family. However, he was asked to attend the Constitutional Convention in 1787 to help draft the new constitution. George Washington leading his troops to a victory in the American Revolutionary War convinced people that he was qualified to be a leader for this country. He wanted to return home and let someone else take on the responsibility of leading this country, but having so many opinions from the public, he gave in and took the position of being the United States first president. The nation gained respect and trust in Washington after winning the American Revolution War and that’s who they wanted as the face of the United States.
Being a leader in the military, you must be able to be a leader by example and set the standards. When you become a leader, you want to maintain high morale, having a high morale setting creates positive and effective behaviors. Throughout George Washington’s years of being in a leadership position, he always thought about his troops. During the stay at the Valley of Forge, Washington saw that his men were dying because they didn’t have proper clothing, so he wrote a letter to the New Hampshire legislature informing them that his men were dying because of insufficient supply of food and some of the men didn’t have clothing for the cold weather. George Washington was a transformational leader because his soldiers felt valued, encouraged people to look at situations and issues in a new way, and he elicited confidence in the people that followed him. Even though he didn’t want to be President, George Washington felt that he was marked as a leader for a reason and that he was going to use that gift to betterment the world.
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