Leadership Lessons From George C. Marshall
General George Catlett Marshall was more than a wartime military figure from the middle of the last century. He was, in fact, a leader of such magnitude and skill that some have called him the greatest American of the 20th century. In Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker, business author and consultant Jack Uldrich describes the contributions Marshall made to the world during and after both World Wars, as well as the principles of leadership that guided his actions throughout his remarkable life.
In much the same way as he did in his previous book, Into the Unknown, in which he described the leadership lessons that can be gleaned from Lewis and Clark's seminal excursion into the American West, Uldrich fills Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker with the important moments that made Marshall an inspirational historical figure, and with vivid descriptions of the nine principles that made his leadership so effective in a period of world history when top leadership was most vital.
The ‘Marshall Plan'
What makes George C. Marshall such an important historical figure? Although his accomplishments are many, here are a few highlights:
- As Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army before and during World War II, Marshall oversaw the Army's expansion from a small, homeland defense force to the strongest army ever created.
- While he served as Secretary of State, Marshall introduced the European Recovery Plan, or the "Marshall Plan," which rescued Europe after World War II.
- He was twice named Time magazine's "Man of the Year," first in 1943, and again in 1947.
- Marshall was the first professional soldier to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Throughout his distinguished and eventful career, Uldrich writes, Marshall's contributions to the United States and the rest of the world resulted from his mastery of nine principles of leadership: integrity, action, selflessness, candor, preparation, learning and teaching, fairness, vision and caring. In Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker, Uldrich chronicles the relevance of Marshall's career to all leaders who want to have a lasting impact on their organizations and the world at large.
Uldrich reminds readers that the first 34 years of Marshall's career were spent laboring and struggling in obscurity "under the Army's seniority-laden promotional system before becoming a general officer."
While on the staff of General John J. Pershing, the head of the American Expeditionary Forces, Marshall demonstrated his leadership skills by planning and organizing the largest American land offensive maneuver of World War I, the Meuse-Argonne offensive — an offensive that caught the Germans completely by surprise and is credited with hastening the end of the war.
When the war was over, Marshall served as one of Pershing's top aides, learning firsthand the subtleties and complexities of national and international politics.
After many years as a commanding officer and leader, Marshall's career took a giant leap forward when he became the Chief of the War Plans Division. A few months later, President Roosevelt made Marshall the Army Chief of Staff, choosing him over many other more senior general officers. Over the next three years, Marshall was instrumental in pushing the president to prepare the nation for a global war by instituting the first-ever peacetime draft, improving cooperation between the Army and Navy, and laying the foundation for closer Allied cooperation.
During U.S. involvement in World War II, Marshall's skills as a leader were tested daily as he made crucial decisions regarding the movement of U.S. troops and the allocation of supplies and equipment, and later when he convinced Roosevelt and Churchill to agree to his "Germany-first" strategy that eventually won the war.
After describing Marshall's accomplishments from his early days to his death in 1959, Uldrich dedicates a chapter to each of the principles that helped Marshall become the 20th century's "indispensable man." In each chapter, Uldrich describes several scenarios where a single principle made the difference in his early years as well as later on Capital Hill. Next, he presents the lessons learned from Marshall's actions and shows how they have worked for others in the worlds of business and politics. Marshall's own words add context to his leadership principles and illustrate his own thoughts on the importance of a purposeful vision.
Why We Like This Book
Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker intertwines the achievements of a distinguished leader with the timeless lessons that can be learned from them. By weaving stories from contemporary business leaders who embody Marshall's leadership strategies into stories from his life, Uldrich once again reminds us how true leadership can be put into action in any time period and under any circumstance.