Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lead Like Ike by Geoff Loftus

Loftus thinks “Eisenhower was the chief executive of the organization that pulled off the most daunting ‘business’ project in history: Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. He was the chief executive of the company that operated under the greatest pressure any executive has ever seen.” (xv)

Loftus analyzes military actions as business operations and delineates the strategic lessons that can be learned from Ike, his successes and his failures.
The ten lessons that emerge are: Determine Your Mission, Plan for Success, Stay Focused, Prioritize, Plan to Implement, Communicate, Motivate Your People, Manage Your People, Avoid Project Creep, and Be Honest.
When taking leadership lessons from actual experience (as opposed to pure theory), there will be contradictions. For example, on page 93, “Micromanage. Okay, a few chapters ago I said don’t so this. But…”
Loftus sometimes issues contradictory evaluations. He says, “…Ike failed to communicate clearly…” (152) “…Eisenhower…too often ended up appeasing the people he spoke with and failing [sic] to communicate his decisions properly.” (153) Yet in the Performance Evaluation and Summary, Loftus reports that, “Ike was effective in communicating with his board.” (247)
Loftus also says of Ike’s leadership, “It was a poor way to run strategic operations.” (153) Of his disagreement with Montgomery over strategy, Loftus says, “This was not one of Eisenhower’s shining moments as a manager.” (152) Also, “D-Day Inc. did not have a formal process to assess and manage risk.” (165) When an assessment of risk was presented to Eisenhower, it was ignored at the top. (166) Again, “…Eisenhower’s biggest failure of the war…was caused by an appalling lack of focus on his part.” (242)
It was amazing to me that with all the errors in D-Day leadership Loftus found so many positive principles of leadership.
CEO war history buffs might like this book but, if they’ve read Ambrose, upon whom Loftus relies very heavily, this book might have nothing new for them. Readers may get bogged down as Loftus trudges through the campaign details of Operation Overlord.
A positive factor of the book is that each chapter ends with Debriefing Notes, highlighting the major points of the chapter. Text boxes throughout the book emphasize the practical points in the text and give examples of companies with successes and failures illustrating the noted principles.
While from a “Christian” publisher, there is nothing of spiritual import in the book. In fact, Christian principles are somewhat ignored. Such as strategy #4, Prioritize. “Do what you need to do to succeed – nothing else…matters.” (243)
Thomas Nelson Publishers provided a copy of this book for review.
Nelson, #9781595550859, 260 pages.

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