Robert E. Lee Knew His People
I believe most everyone probably knows that General Robert E. Lee commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the Civil War. Politics aside, he’s regarded by many as the top General and leader of the Civil War. I’ve read a lot of books on American history, and since the Civil War makes up a key point in America’s history, I’ve read more than a bit about him and what made him successful.
One of the greatest talents I believe General Lee had was his ability to inherently understand the strengths and weaknesses of the leaders that worked for him. Lee had two Generals that worked under him for a good portion of the war: General Stone Wall Jackson and General James Longstreet. Both men were great Generals, but both were vastly different in their abilities. Stonewall Jackson was a General who was bold and aggressive, great at operational movements and loved to work independently. One of his weaknesses was that we wasn’t a great tactician and could place his troops in harm’s way. As such, Lee gave him smaller numbers under his command, let him work independently with smaller attacks. This allowed Jackson to be successful because his assignments matched his skill sets.
The same can be said for General Longstreet. Longstreet was a great tactician and was excellent at moving large amounts of troops and placing them in superior positions to be successful. His weakness was he didn’t like to work independently and, for many of the battles, worked side by side General Lee with most of the fighting force. Lee kept Longstreet close to work with him on large scale attacks. In this manner, Longstreet could also be his most successful right hand man. History has called Jackson Lee’s hammer and Longstreet Lee’s anvil – a fitting way to describe their basic leadership strengths and differences.
As a business owner, have you analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of your leaders? Have you placed them in positions that will allow them to succeed? Do you know who is your hammer and who is your anvil? If not, I suggest you take a closer look at the life and career of General Robert E. Lee.
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