Cigars, Whiskey, & Winning

Pres. U.S. Grant (between 1870 and 1880)

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve always been kind of a political junkie, but I find most historical biographies too boring.  The title of Al Kaltman’s Cigars, Whiskey, & Winning: Leadership Lessons from General Ulysses S. Grant caught my attention a few years ago; so, I decided to give it a shot and found that it was actually quite an interesting read.  This weekend, I downloaded the new Decision Points by President George W. Bush and Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  There are definitely lessons to be learned from the leadership displayed by Grant, Bush, and Lincoln which may be applied to consensus building, motivating employees, and taking decisive action in today’s business climate.

As I started reading Decision Points, it reminded me immediately of Grant.  Here’s a quick outline of how Kaltman summarized General Grant’s leadership style for you to compare with President Bush’s decision making process (if you read his book over the holidays):

  • Ask the right questions.
  • Don’t sit there, do something!
  • Give no special favors.
  • Know when to lead and when to follow.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • Recognize the limits of your authority.
  • See the total picture.
  • Trust but verify.
  • Realize that we all make mistakes.
  • Know that where you stand affects what you see.
  • Surround yourself with great people who can lead at your direction and challenge you to be a better leader.
  • Realize that you don’t need to be a workaholic (hence the Cigars & Wiskey alongside Winning in the book’s title).


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