Lessons from George Washington on Leadership
At the suggestion of my friend David Johnson, I’ve been reading, “The Return of George Washington” by Edward J. Larson. It’s been a great read with tons of insightful lessons on leadership.
If you lead a church, school, business, or team there are some great lessons from the life of Washington for you.
Think about the amazing men that were used to form the United States. Men like Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Jay. Through the collective wisdom of these men the greatest nation in the history of world was formed.
However, there was a time after the Revolutionary War when the future of the nation seemed anything but secure. There was little or no centralized government, the states who held the power did not cooperate well with each other, there was no national currency, and the recent war had left Congress with a large debt.
Yet, out of this chaos Washington and others brought a clarity of vision that helped form the nation that we now reside in.
That’s what leadership does – it forms a clear vision of a preferred future in the midst of confusing chaos.
From the life of George Washington let me remind you of some great lessons on leadership.
If you are a leader, you need to…
- Always be thinking about a more ideal future.
Washington had just lead his army in winning the Revolutionary War, he now has resigned his post as General and returned home to his beloved Mount Vernon.
However, he understood that there was more to be done and dreamed of a more ideal future for the United States.
Don’t think that you last success is your last success. It’s just a stepping stone for the more ideal future that God desires for your church, school, business, or team.
- Make sure you learn from your failures.
After the war and prior to becoming President, Washington had this big dream to use the Potomac River as a water route for trade – connecting the east to the undeveloped west.
It was a great plan but it never fully worked. There were too many rapids and too many water falls to maneuver around and finally the plan fell through.
By most accounts it was a failure. However, the lessons he learned about bringing neighboring states together to work on this project would no doubt serve him well as the nation’s first President.
All of us have failed at stuff. That’ ok. But, what lessons did your last or greatest failure teach you about the next big thing you want to do?
- Leverage your current chaos for a more secure future.
There was a time in our country’s history that everything secured in the Revolutionary War was at risk.
Washington wrote to John Jay, “something must be done, or the fabric must fall.”
Is there a “something must be done” mentality in your organization?
“Something must be done” or our church is in trouble.
“Something must be done” or our school will fail.
“Something must be done” or our team is going to implode.
When things are this critical in your organization then good news, people are open to change.
Leverage the uneasiness by painting a preferred future. That’s was Washington did. That’s what leaders do!