Longing for Leadership

0 comments Posted on June 15, 2021

by Dr. Craig von Buseck

By the third year of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln believed he had finally found the general who could lead the Union to victory.

Soon after Lincoln promoted Ulysses S. Grant to lead all the Union armies, one of his secretaries, William Stoddard, found the president resting on the sofa. Curious about the new commander, Stoddard asked Lincoln what he thought of Grant.

“Grant is the first general I’ve had!” Lincoln exclaimed.

“May I ask, sir,” Stoddard inquired, “what exactly do you mean by that?”

“He’s a general! … You know how it has been with all the rest. They wanted me to be the general. I am glad to find a man who can go ahead without me.”

Grant was what we would now call a true servant leader. He was eager to fight, self-reliant, and uncomplaining. He took what Lincoln was able to give him in men and supplies and used them to their full advantage without grumbling. He was respectful to officers and common soldiers alike. He ate in the mess tent among his staff without having to be at the head of the table or the center of the conversation.

Often when a major decision had to be made, he would gather his staff and encourage them to debate the issue in front of him. He would just listen and consider the arguments. He would often fight a battle in his head before it was ever fought in real life, working out his strategy and his orders in advance.

We can learn much from the leadership principles of Ulysses S. Grant, one of the greatest leaders in American history. After reviewing my new book, Forward! The Leadership Principles of Ulysses S. Grant, one reviewer wrote: “By the book’s poignant conclusion, I was cheering on Grant’s final victory over enormous adversity, while simultaneously mourning the absence of such a great servant-leader in our day.”

Perhaps we can all learn from Grant’s principles to be the servant leaders that are so desperately needed today.

Order your copy of Forward! The Leadership Principles of Ulysses S. Grant wherever books are sold.

Dr. Craig von Buseck is an award-winning author and the Managing Editor of Inspiration.org. He holds an MA in Journalism from Regent University. His book I Am Cyrus: Harry S. Truman and the Rebirth of Israel won the 2020 Selah Award for nonfiction and was a finalist for the Truman Award by the Truman Presidential Library. Learn more at www.vonbuseck.com

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