Patton on Leadership

I’m planning to do mini-reviews on business books I read, and the first one to receive this treatment is Patton on Leadership: Strategic lessons for corporate warfare.

I picked up this book based on a recommendation from Scott Miller (of 3D Realms / Duke Nukem fame), who lists it on his recommend books list. Honestly I had just a vague idea who George Patton was (an American general from World War II), and I highly doubted I could learn anything from the book. I bought the book simply of curiosity and hoped to gain some insight into the US business mindset.

Not only did I learn who Patton was (a highly acclaimed, unconventional leader, whose military achievements are among the greatest in World War II), but I also found a lot of evergreen management insight that corresponded amazingly well with my own ideas about good leadership. Concepts like

  • Agile management (Patton calls it Speed, Simplicity and Boldness)
  • Setting example thru leadership from the front of the lines
  • Planning trumps plans. (General Dwight D Eisenhower:”In preparing for battle, I have found that plans are useless but planning is indispensible“)
  • Frank communication & belief on persevering (Stockdale paradox: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.“)
  • A commander will command (he has no other choice, or an entrepreneur pitches because otherwise he isn’t an entrepreneur)

As a book, it was an easy, light read, although the writer had a pressing need to get the page count over 200 pages. If Patton would have written this himself, it would have been less than half in size as he’d brutally have cut off all the duplication and unnecessary bits. ;-) Sometimes the analogies between war and business are a bit stretched, but more often than not those metaphors really make you think.

Verdict: 3/5

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