Authors: Theodore Kinni and Donna Kinni
Publisher: FT Prentice Hall, 2005
ISBN-13: 978-0131470217, 288 pages
The stereotypical military general wields authority like a blunt instrument: Issue an order and it's followed. The reality of military leadership is more complex, as this intriguing study of General Douglas MacArthur shows. MacArthur took a deliberate, nuanced approach to inspiring his troops. His arsenal included motivation, knowledge, intimidation, praise and self-deprecation. Authors Theodore and Donna Kinni combine a short biography, compelling anecdotes and a keen understanding of MacArthur's career and personality to build this episodic analysis of his approach to strategy, motivation and management. They include relevant study questions after each chapter. getAbstract recommends this to managers who need to take their leadership skills to boot camp and to those who enjoy good military tales.
MacArthur’s strategic rules
Douglas MacArthur was born in 1880 into an Army family. He served in World War I, became the head of West Point and served in World War II. At 70, General MacArthur remained a force in world affairs as the leader of U.S. troops in Korea. He always employed strategic skills and concepts that still offer useful guidance to managers:
"Define and pursue victory" – In any endeavor, the definition of success can differ. If you don't have a clear definition of victory, you cannot win. In Korea, MacArthur knew that he had to outline victory clearly, although this ultimately cost him his job. President Harry Truman defined victory as a sullen stalemate. MacArthur defined it as absolute victory; his criticism caused Truman to relieve him from duty. Korea today remains divided; North Korea remains an international political problem.
‘Understand the situation" – As a young officer, MacArthur gained a reputation as a leader who went into battle with his troops. He wanted to get to the front so he could evaluate events for himself. Later, when his rank made it hard for him to accompany the troops, he built an intelligence-gathering team that reported directly to him.
‘Use every available means" – MacArthur knew he couldn't fight today's war with yesterday's strategies, so he got creative. When he had to move forces from Australia to the Philippines during WWII, he did not let WWI logistics hold him back. Hampered by shortages of supplies and men, he hatched a "triphibious" approach, combining ground troops with air and naval forces. Stretching scarce supplies was his trademark. Short of supplies in 1947, he created "Operation Roll-Up" to refurbish leftover WWII gear in Japanese factories. This reclamation project armed U.S. troops for the Korean War. MacArthur became known for doing "more with less."
“Manage the environment” – In Papua, New Guinea, MacArthur's men were decimated by an unexpected enemy: malaria. Most of his troops were ill. He formed a task force to tackle the epidemic and soon greatly reduced infection rates, while Japanese troops continued to suffer from rampant malaria. "Nature is neutral in war," MacArthur later wrote, although he noted elsewhere that the army that adapts to the terrain wins.
“Utilize surprise" – Unpredictability was a MacArthur hallmark. He attacked the least obvious places, only after seeming to prepare for an assault elsewhere. Trapped on Corregidor, he escaped not by submarine – the most obvious method – but by unheard-of PT boats. He sent troops into heavily Japanese-fortified Manila to free U.S. prisoners of war. He figured no one would expect him to broach an armed city…