George Washington once said regarding leadership “Remember that it is the actions and not the commission, that make the officer and that there is more expected from him, than the title.” Washington was clearly making the point that just because a person is commissioned as an officer, that doesn’t automatically make that person a good leader. What makes a good leader is not the title, but rather the actions that the leader takes every day to ensure the well-being of the troops under the leader’s command. As Commander of the American Army, Washington demonstrated a deep commitment to his troops and he was always concerned for their morale and welfare above his own. He recognized that he was not just commander in chief; he was also father in chief of the men in his army. Washington knew that the troops under his command expected nothing less from him and that he needed to be more than just a title of commander. He had to display a very high level of innate leadership talent required to hold his inexperienced colonial army together and do battle with the British who at that time, were the world’s super power. Through the many highs and lows of the American Revolution, he provided the leadership necessary to win independence.
Washington is also attributed to saying “An army of asses led by a lion is vastly superior to an army of lions led by an ass.” This down-to-earth and gritty statement reflects again how much importance he placed on the head of an army. This statement shows that it is absolutely critical that only a person with a high degree of leadership talent should be in command. With the proper leadership, even an army of asses can be molded into a fighting force. However, an army in the hands of a person who does not possess leadership talent will be ineffective no matter how trained, experienced, and ready for battle the troops are. Leadership at all levels is critical, but it is especially vital at the topmost commander position. Washington always took leadership seriously and used his personal leadership talent to lead this upstart nation to victory.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer. Mr. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a provocative and useful guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders. This book describes the art of leadership including how to deal with poor managers that can cripple an organization.
For more information about Paul Okum and “Leadership DNA”, visit