George Washington: Servant Leadership and Communication Coursework
The socio-economic and political success of the United States is directly attributed to effective leadership that has been experienced in the country since independence in 1776. The forefathers of this country had a great vision for this country, and they did everything within their powers to ensure that it was realized. They were never concerned with self-gains, and neither were they after fame. They served Americans diligently, always trying to unite the country for a common course.
They ignored their personal needs in order to realize the societal success. They embraced servant leadership as a way of delivering the best service to the people of this nation. George Washington was one such servant leader who was committed to free Americans from colonial rule, and to unite all Americans in order to achieve a common course. In this research, the focus will be to analyze the servant leadership strategies that were employed by George Washington as one of the greatest American heroes of a lifetime.
George Washington was the first president of an independent United States of America. Born in April, 1789, Washington joined the military at a tender age to help liberate the United States from the British rule. His military skills and leadership qualities saw him rise to become the Continental Army’s commander-in-chief in 1775. This meant that he had to lead the American Revolution that was gaining momentum against the oppressive rule from the colonial masters. This was one of the most dangerous tasks because the colonial army was ruthless and well equipped. However, Washington was willing to face death for the sake of his country.
He led the Continental Army against the British in Boston, and successfully liberated it from the British government. In New York, he was almost killed when his camp was attacked by the British forces as they were advancing to liberate it. This did not deter him from advancing to other states. He captured New Jersey, the fact that earned him massive admiration among the Americans. He went ahead to help in liberating many other states from the colonial rule. This saw him become the first president of the independent United States elected unanimously in 1789. He served the country diligently before retiring in 1797.
Servant Leadership of George Washington
George Washington has been referred as a hero and servant leader who served Americans without any self-interest clouding his thoughts. He was the general who liberated Americans from the chains of the colonial rule till it gained its freedom. However, Miller (2012) says that after liberating the United States, Washington resigned as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in order to promote democracy within the country.
This was a noble act because he denounced the power he had as the army general to capture power after driving the colonial forces away. However, he preferred to let Americans decide who they wanted as their leader. This is a clear indication that Washington saw himself as a servant. To him, the Americans were the master in this new country, and they had the power of choosing the person they wanted to serve them as their president.
According to Matha and Boehm (2008), George Washington is responsible for the current tradition where American presidents only serve for two terms. Even after being unanimously elected as the United States’ president, Washington felt that power should not be a preserve for a select few. After serving two terms, he never sought to extend his leadership in this country.
He handed over power to the second president of this nation who was elected in a free and fair election. This was strange because in this period, many countries in the world were ruled by dictators. Some of the democratic leaders would cling to power using all means, but Washington felt that the United States needed to embrace constitutionalism and democracy in the country.
According to Miller (2012), Communication is one of the most important characteristics in servant leadership. A leader should be able to communicate freely with the followers in a clear manner in order to influence others to act in a given manner. Flint (2012) says that George Washington was able to win many battles against the British forces because of his ability to communicate properly with his generals. He was always open to discussions, considering the views of everyone important in the fight for liberation of the country.
This motivated his troops who felt that their leader was interested in protecting their interest at all cost. When he became the president, George Washington remained accessible to many, always preferring to communicate directly other than using intermediaries. It is important for a leader to eliminate bureaucracies in communication in order to eliminate distortion of the message (Ferch & Spears, 2011). When systems are created that subject pieces of messages into various systems, the message always get diluted, and by the time it reaches the targeted audience, it may not have the intended information.
This is what Washington was keen to avoid. He would always pass his message directly to the intended audience whenever this was necessary. He also maintained a cordial relationship with other senior government officials and liberators of this country, including those who opposed his leadership. He always maintained that the opposition had a role to play in the country, and that it was necessary for them to be listened to as the alternative government in the country.
Theory X and Theory Y
McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y have become very popular theories when analyzing servant leadership in the society. According to McGregor’s Theory X, people are always lazy and tend to dodge their tasks whenever they have an opportunity. For this reason, a leader must ensure that he or she maintains a close check on such lazy leaders to ensure that they undertake their duties. Most leaders always embrace this principle when leading people, always preferring a hands-on leadership style.
On the other hand, Theory Y holds that with the right motivation, people can always achieve a lot with minimal or no supervision at all in their various workplaces. This is a principle that Washington held so dearly. As an army general, he always insisted on self-motivation among the military officers. He was always in the battle front, the fact that challenged his officers to act positively in their various tasks.
He believed in delegating duties as a way of creating a sense of responsibility among his officers. As the president of the country, he always trusted his staff and the entire cabinet to do what is right without having to be subjected to any strict supervision. It is important to note that this does not mean that he never followed up to ensure that the officers were doing what was expected of them. He was very keen to ensure that they acted as it was expected.
Added value of a servant leader
According to Schuttler and Burdick (2010), a servant leader is a person who is willing to sacrifice the personal benefits for the sake of his or her people. It is a leader who is always willing to do everything in order to create peace and make his or people lead a better life. George Washington was such a leader. He led a successful fight against the colonial rulers and was finally elected to become the first president of the United States. When he became the president, he forgave the colonial masters and considered forming an economic alliance with them for the sake of improving the economy of the United States.
He did not hold grudge against the people who were interested in taking away his life because he knew that such acts would only bring down the economy of this country. This was a unique value that helped him serve Americans as a servant leader. Washington was also a champion of people’s rights. During his lifetime, slavery in the United States was still in existence. Born in a rich family, he too had his own slaves who served in various capacities. However, deep in his heart he believed that slavery was not good. He believed that every American should enjoy the freedom that the country had gained.
He believed that Blacks and Whites, Hispanics and any other Americans of different demographic groups deserved to lead a life free from slavery. That is why in his last will, he freed all the slaves who had been serving his family. This was a gesture to all Americans that slavery was not a good practice in a country that had just been liberated from the colonial rulers. As a servant leader, he gave an example by releasing his slaves. He acted upon the issue, and left the Americans to make their own independent decisions about slavery.
Servant leadership in the current society
As a servant leader, George Washington was able to transform the United States from a middle economy country to one of the fastest growing economies in the world. He saw himself as a servant to his people and was always keen to act in the best interest of the entire country. This is lacking in the current leadership where people are interested in self-gains.
Servant leadership is needed in the current society in order to steer the country towards the path of success as the forefathers did. An organization full of servant leaders would be very successful in the current society (Sipe & Frick, 2009). The employees would remain motivated when they see their leaders taking responsibilities as a way of showing them how to undertake some duties. The servant leaders will always be willing to be at the service of the junior employees and this would improve service delivery.
Servant leadership is very important in the current society. President George Washington was able to achieve a lot as a servant leader. It is true that significant contingencies like rebellion may lean against servant leadership. However, it is important to remember that unity and success is always easily achievable through servant leadership.
Ferch, S. R., & Spears, L. C. (2011). The spirit of servant-leadership. New York: Paulist Press.
Flint, B. B. (2012). The journey to competitive advantage through servant leadership: Building the company every person dreams of working for and every president has a vision of leading. Bloomington, Ind: West Bow Press.
Matha, B., & Boehm, M. (2008). Beyond the babble: Leadership communication that drives results. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Miller, K. (2012). Organizational communication: Approaches and processes. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Schuttler, R., & Burdick, J. (2010). Laws of communication: The intersection where leadership meets employee performance. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Sipe, J. W., & Frick, D. M. (2009). Seven pillars of servant leadership: Practicing the wisdom of leading by serving. New York: Paulist Press.
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