[August 3, 2017] I’ve made some changes to my Reading List (Update) as one can see when I published my last entry on Rudolph Giuliani’s book called Leadership. The idea was to delve a little more into the content of the book by bringing up some of the author’s key ideas rather than just rushing through simply to peak someone’s intellectual curiosity. Today’s book goes into the making of senior leaders and is called Corps Commanders of the Bulge by Harold R. Winton.
Corps Commanders of the Bulge, Harold R. Winton, 2007
I’ve always been of the mindset that any attempt to understand the thinking of senior leaders is a worthwhile endeavor because it gives us structure to our own leadership growth and development. Often this is simply not possible as the sands of time have eroded any ability to understand with any level of accuracy what that person’s thoughts were at the time.
What Winton has done in his book is to give us a good try at doing exactly that and, from all accounts, has managed to do a pretty good job of it. World War II is the backdrop to the mainstay of his book yet there remains enough detail to gain insight into the world of senior leaders that deserves exploring.
Corps Commanders of the Bulge is about six American Corps commanders (Gerow, Middleton, Ridgway, Millikin, Eddy, Collins) whom successfully fought their Corps at the Battle of the Bulge. His interest is the development of those senior leaders and the complex enterprise that came from both the institutional practices and individual efforts that made it so. Winton focuses his efforts on the latter; the individual efforts of each that made them successful.
Winton deals with this in Chapter 3 on the making of six Corps Commanders. He does it by tracing the professional development of each from the time of their precommissioning studies to the eve of the Ardennes campaign. What he reviews are:
- The nature of the experiences themselves,
- The officers’ use of and growth from these experiences, and
- The noteworthy qualities of character, temperament, and intellect.
His object, using his own words, is to “anticipate, to the extent possible, what their development up to 15 December 1944 suggest as to how they would deal with the significant challenges of the campaign.” His attempt to get at the heart of why certain decisions are made and under what circumstances is important to that understanding and to the development of future (successful) senior leaders. Only through extensive and intensive long-term efforts was it possible that each of the six commanders were able to so successfully fight their respective army corps.
The book is a part of the U.S. Army War College recommended reading list and also highly recommended by me.
To go to the full Professional Reading list, simply click on this direct link: www.theleadermaker.com/reading-list/