Guest Post: Lead Like Ike

Russ Baustian is my father-in-law. He is a retired pastor and an avid reader. From time to time he will submit some book reviews that will be posted here. This review is a a follow-up to a review that I previously posted  here.

“Lead Like Ike”, another book on leadership, this one by Geoff Loftus, detailing 10 business strategies that characterized the leadership of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in his preparations for D-Day, as well as the execution of the landings and the subsequent liberation of Europe.  Loftus puts it all in the framework of a business organization with a CEO (Ike), a Board of Directors (FDR, Churchill, Stalin, and military leaders of the Air Force, Navy, U.S. Army, and British  Army);  a “company” with the responsibility of pulling off the most daunting ‘business’ project in history: the allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944; a multinational “workforce”: the soldiers from many countries and languages; and the manufacturing and inventory of the necessary supplies to make it possible, a supply chain that stretched across an ocean.  His mission statement: force the unconditional surrender of the competitor, Nazi Germany.

Throughout the book, Loftus shows how the 10 strategic lessons:  –  Determine your mission  –  Plan for success  –  Stay focused  –  Prioritize  –  Plan to implement  –  Communicate  –  Motivate your people  –  Manage your people  –  Avoid Project Creep  –  Be honest  –  were used at various stages throughout the 2 year process.  He details the obstacles that continued to come into play that threatened these strategic lessons, including the differences of opinion and strategy within the Board of Directors (Churchill has his own ideas of what should be done  –  Montgomery proved to be a continuing obstacle, wanting to do things his own way, and wanted Eisenhower’s position  –  other generals with distinct personality problems).  These are dealt with according to these strategic lessons.  The book also records the setbacks when any of them were not followed, resulting in loss of time, and unnecessary loss of lives.

Along with the record of how Ike handled his responsibilities as CEO of D-Day Inc, examples are given of current business enterprises – Best Buy – Johnson & Johnson – Coca Cola – McDonalds – Apple – GM – Disney – AOL/Time Warner – and others facing various problems and how use of one or more of the strategic lessons helped, or could have helped in overcoming the problems.

Reading the book, I kept wondering, what does this have to do with the church??  especially the church as I have known it, small congregational-style churches?   Certainly the mega-churches need the CEO style, but is there a place for that in the church of 150 and less?  Whether CEO or servant/pastor, the lessons are still valid.  Some will be harder than others, and a board will need to struggle , for example, with what determines success in a congregation that has struggled for 50 years just to stay alive.  Or how to deal with a vocal minority , whether “we’ve never done it that way” or “we’ve always done it this way”.  Also, when to move ahead even though it may mean the loss of some very influential people.  Communication, Training, Staying focused, Not being side-tracked, and Honesty,  all are of vital necessity, whether a business, military effort, or the mission of a church.

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