Eisenhower Leadership Lesson: Ignoring Weaknesses Can Be Dangerous In a Strength Based Improvement Initiative!

In the previous blog post I wrote about the enormity of the challenge Eisenhower faced in creating a vision and strategy that would overcome the inadequacy and inherent weakness of the American military inventory.

He faced one other challenge that may have been even bigger. History.

Eisenhower wrote on page 4 of his memoir Crusade in Europe about two miracles that brought about the Nazi surrender in May, 1945. One of them was “America’s transformation, in three years, from a situation of appalling danger to unparalleled might.

“The other was the development, over the same period of near perfection in allied conduct of war operations. History testifies to the ineptitude of coalitions in waging war. Allied failures have been so numerous and their inexcusable blunders so common that professional soldiers had long discounted the possibility of effective allied action unless available resources were so great as to assure victory by inundation.

“Even Naoplean’s reputation as a brilliant military leader suffered when students realized he always fought against coalitions, and therefore divided counsels and diverse political, economic and military interests.”

Because Eisenhower was critically aware of the two most potent weaknesses his vision, strategy and subsequent implementation faced he used it as the foundation for constant focus and priority.

With this approach he turned a weakness into a strength.

In recent years there has been a move by some of the biggest thought leaders on business leadership to focus on building on strengths to make weaknesses irrelevant.

Yet, sometimes our weaknesses, as the study of Eisenhower’s WWII efforts show, are too big and too important to dismiss. Additionally, our strengths may be too limited or narrow in scope to overcome those weaknesses no matter how much we build them up.

This was the challenge Eisenhower faced.

This is why a strong vision and strategy were vital to Eisenhower (and the Allied Forces) success. Every decision he made, every resource he asked for was geared towards overcoming those two weaknesses. It was his North Star and his “driving force.”

Side Note: In the book Top Management Strategy Benjamin Tregoe and John Zimmerman defined “strategy” as “the framework within which decisions are made which influence the nature and direction of the business.”

By the time Nazi Germany surrendered to the allies on May 7, 1945 both weaknesses had become strengths through shear focus and and will.

If there was one time where failure truly wasn’t an option for America and its allies it was probably between September 1, 1939 and May 7, 1945 (and then the subsequent months through the August surrender of the Empire of Japan in the Pacific).

In the Strategic Planning process called SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) you can, with the right questions, identify and prioritize your most pressing areas of focus that can be the catalyst for your success.

When would, now be a good time to get started?

If you’d like to learn more about creating a Vision and Strategy that will give you the focus to make your competition irrelevant and grow your business in 2012, I encourage you to take advantage of a private, 1:1 Strategy Session where together we can explore creating a winning Vision and Strategy for your organization. Go here to learn more!

’til next time, make it a great week!