For 39 years the Civil War, he had demonstrated nothing but failure and mediocrity. His constant failure became his reputation that his name was mocked and changed from Ulysses to ‘ Useless’ . (McDowell, 2004, p. B06) His life is evidently a history of success and failure. Admirably though, in success, in failure, and even in death, Grant had consistently faced life’ s challenges calmly. Living between mediocrity and greatness and performing between success and failure in the most trying moments of US history, assessing Grant’ s leadership proved difficult to many scholars and historians.
Perhaps, this is due to the fact that the career: military commander and US president, he took are two entirely different, yet both challenging major career paths. It had been easy to say that Grant succeeded as a military commander because he had victoriously ended the Civil War, but it was too difficult to say whether or not he failed as a president because undeniably the system provided him many obstacles harder to surmount that those he had encountered at war. Thus within this context Grant’ s leadership is evaluated following Kouzes & Posner’ s (2002) Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, which are as follows: (1) model the way, (2) inspire a shared vision, (3) challenge the process, (4) enable others to act, and (5) encourage the heart (p.
13), is what the succeeding discussion will delve into. A review of Grant’ s life definitely demonstrates that as a military commander, he indeed modeled the way. In fact, it was this quality that gained Lincoln’ s trust of him. “ He fights” would be Lincoln’ s stubborn reason in retaining Grant against the disapproval of his advisers.
Lincoln saw in Grant the full understanding of winning the war. That what is needed is not simply physical courage but “ the moral courage to act, to confront that terrible moment of truth, to decide and risk. ” Much more, if Grant did not model the way, he, a known drunkard, would have not been able to tame and discipline the unruly Illinois regiment, which the first commander was forced to retire. If he did not model the way, he would have not been able to lead soldiers to a cruel battle to victory.
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