Patton on Leadership: Strategic Lessons for Corporate Warfare

Patton on Leadership: Strategic Lessons for Corporate Warfare


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Drawing on General George Patton’s decisive moves and distinctive style, Alan Axelrod's Patton on Leadership gives executives and managers straightforward, practical lessons in dynamic, results-oriented management. This guide covers how to develop a leadership attitude, communicate effectively, inspire others, and more, with period photographs of the Patton throughout his career.
“What can a civilian corporate leader learn from the combat tactics of General George S. Patton Jr.? Find out by reading Alan Axelrod’s Patton on Leadership. He takes leadership wisdom of one of America’s greatest and most colorful combat generals and applies it to contemporary civilian corporate organizations. Organized around Patton’s quotations and writings, each being related to specific corporate situations, Axelrod presents an in-depth understanding into the general’s leadership style and demonstrates that Patton’s ‘genius was being able to capitalize on his own intuitive notion of leadership.’ This book provides a perspective insight of a leadership methodology that may be a valuable asset to many corporate executives.”—Rutherford B. Johnson, commander, Georgia Chapter, George S. Patton Jr. Historical Society

“I have no doubt that the leadership skills and personal attitude practiced by General Patton can be used effectively in both corporate and government managerial positions. Current and future leaders would do well to master those skills and to practice the vital requisities of honesty and integrity for which General Patton was noted and without which, leadership is highly suspect.”—William A. Burke, Major General (Ret.)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780735202979
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/2001
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 435,108
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Alan Axelrod is a renowned historian and business writer. He was the co author of the New York Times bestseller What Every American Should Know About American History as well as the BusinessWeek bestsellers Patton on Leadership and Elizabeth I, CEO. He has written extensively on the Civil War.

Table of Contents

1. What he did and who he was
Patton's achievement and background
2. "A Commander Will Command"
On the dimensions of leadership
3. "Always Attack. Never Surrender"
On developing a winning attitude
4. "How Do We Know That?"
On fact finding, preparation, and planning
5."Speed- Simplicity- Boldness"
On execution and opportunity
6. "The Soldier Is The Army"
On training, mentoring, motivating, inspiring
7. "Letters Of Instruction"
On communication and coordination
8. "Only One Direction- Forward"
On creating efficiency
9. "Success Is How High You Can Bounce When You
Hit Bottom"
On courage and character
10. "Audacity"
On managing the impossible
Recommended Readings

What People are Saying About This

Rutherford B. Johnson

From Rutherford B. Johnson, Commander, Georgia Chapter, George S. Patton, Jr. Historical Society

What can a civilian corporate leader learn from the combat tactics of General George S. Patton, Jr.? Find out by reading Alan Axelrod's Patton on Leadership. He takes the leadership wisdom of one of America's greatest and most colorful combat Generals and applies it to contemporary civilian corporate organizations. Organized around Patton's quotations and writings, each being related to specific corporate situations, Axelrod presents an in-depth understanding into the General's leadership style and demonstrates that Patton's 'genius was being able to capitalize on his own intuitive notion of leadership.' This book provides a perceptive insight of a leadership methodology that may be a valuable asset to many corporate executives.

Melvin R. Goodes

From Melvin R. Goodes, Chairman and CEO, Warner-Lambert Company

In the three years from 1942 to 1945, Patton won a war on the mantra of 'Speed, Simplicity and Boldness.' In the three years from 1995 to 1998, using that same mantra, Warner-Lambert went from a company described as 'amongst the walking dead of the pharmaceutical industry' to an enterprise ranked with the world's top 50 firms in market value. Patton on Leadership provides leaders at every level with deep insights into what shaped Patton's unique leadership style and how he inspired people to victory in the most dire of circumstances.

Henry L. Sobel

From 1st Lt. Henry L. Sobel, U.S. Army (Ret.) 01010072

As Sergeant (and Manager) of the Second Armored Division Officers' Club in Ft. Benning, Georgia, I frequently had personal contact with General Patton. Alan Axelrod is right on target with his description of the General and the comparison to corporate warfare. I recommend reading it.

Al Kaltman

From Al Kaltman, Author, Cigars, Whiskey & Winning: Leadership Lessons from General Ulysses S. Grant

Patton is the personification of leadership projected through the force of personality. Patton on Leadership provides valuable insights into the precepts of this celebrated twentieth century warrior.

C. R. Koop

From C.R. "Jack" Koop, Chairman & CEO (Ret.), Leo Burnett Co, Inc.

The most powerful truth I learned from combat in WWII and Korea is that you simply cannot be a successful leader - and thus will not prevail - without 'integrity, integrity, and integrity.' Leaders in business, as well as in the military, will find Patton on Leadership exceptionally helpful.

William K. Burke

From William A. Burke, major General, (Ret.) U.S.A.

I have no doubt but that the leadership skills and personal attitude practiced by general Patton can be used effectively in both corporate and government managerial positions. Current and future leaders would do well to master those skills and to practice the vital requisites of honesty and integrity for which General Patton was noted and without which, leadership is highly suspect.

Karl Malden

From Karl Malden, Actor, Renowned for his portrayal of General Omar Bradley in the movie Patton

Never thought you could compare General Patton with corporate management. But this book does and does it well.

Charles M. Province

From Charles M. Province, President/Founder The George S. Patton, Jr. Historical Society

Mr. Axelrod has written an excellent book about Patton's leadership skills, his approach to winning, his personal attitude, and his methods for results. These are lessons that can be learned and applied in the business community with great ease. If your library does not contain Patton On Leadership: Strategic Lessons for Corporate Warfare, by Alan Axelrod, then your library is not complete. Buy this book, study it, and follow its teachings. You will be a better manager for it.


One might easily question the selection of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to compose the preface to the book, Patton on Leadership. After all, I was only 15 years old when General Patton died.

Perhaps it is because the late renowned Howard Cosell frequently referred to me as "Patton in Pinstripes" on national television, or perhaps because I attended Culver Military Academy as a young man, finishing with a very undistinguished academic record except for Military Science, where I was an A+ student. Or perhaps because as a young Air Force Lieutenant in the '50s, a decade after his passing, I held George S. Patton as one of the finest of all American military leaders; and because today, as a student of military leadership, both good and bad, from Frederick the Great through the likes of Custer, Grant, Lee, Pershing, Eisenhower, and even Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, to name a few, I consider General George S. Patton, with all his controversy, idiosyncrasies, and unpredictability, to be perhaps the greatest of them all - "the ultimate warrior."

When I first read about Patton, I was struck by the fact that he moved his troops farther and faster than anybody believed possible with so few casualties. As I read more about his leadership strategies - how he achieved these remarkable results - I became even more impressed. The confidence he instilled in his soldiers was legendary. The men under his command considered themselves to be "Patton's Men." They looked sharper, they fought tougher, and they were time and time again called upon to perform beyond perceivable limits. It was often said that his troops would accomplish the impossible, then go out and do it all over again. "Patton's Men" may not have always truly appreciated the man's leadership style at the time. Human nature is such that the discipline and the obedience required by a great leader are so often cause for griping and displeasure. But in retrospect, to have served under Patton was a red badge of courage to be worn forever.

When you talk baseball and a man in his later years describes himself by saying, "I was a former Major League ballplayer," that is one thing. But if he was a Yankee, he will almost always say, "I was a New York Yankee," not just a Major League ballplayer. A prominent sports editor from Pittsburgh once wrote: "There are never ex-Yankees. Their pinstripes assure them an immortal presence." The same should be said of Patton's men. They have an immortal presence because they served with one of the greatest generals this nation has ever known. I often talk to friends of mine who served in the Second World War. Time and again, I will hear them say that they served in the Fifth Army or the First Army, or in the Philippines or the European Theater. But if they were one of "Patton's Men," they make it very clear, "I served with Patton." That says it all as far as they are concerned.

Patton's leadership lessons ring as true today as they did when he was leading the Third Army across France and into Germany itself. His enduring message is one of preparation, teamwork, pride, motivation, and discipline - never asking his men to do anything that he himself would not do. These principles form a strong foundation for leading a successful army or any other form of endeavor. The outcome may not be life and death as it is in war, but General Patton's strategies are still sound and will help managers and leaders in all types of organizations achieve winning results.

Patton could reduce complex tasks to their essence, then focus all of his resources on that essence. He believed in attention to every detail. Put all the pieces in place, give your people every opportunity to succeed, and they will do so. Give people goals they can understand, they will meet them. Set the bar high and your people will raise themselves to meet it.

Patton drove his men fast and hard, but he also knew their limits. He would never push them beyond their capabilities, because that would be a foolish waste of resources and would result ultimately in defeat. In baseball, if a pitcher can consistently give you six strong innings, but begins to falter after that, you're asking for trouble if you try to force him to pitch a complete game.

Although some of Patton's detractors called him "reckless," he actually was a very careful and studious planner. He was a student of his opposition and their leadership. Before making a decision, he would gather all the facts he could and seek input from trusted advisors. He would study the appointed task from many angles, trying to spot the pitfalls as well as the advantages of various strategies. I can recall very clearly in the great movie Patton (which I probably have seen twenty times) when Patton is in the process of defeating Rommel's vaunted forces in North Africa on the field of battle. George C. Scott, playing Patton, bellows out as victory seems assured, "Ah Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book." This indeed depicts Patton. He studied and prepared, and by understanding his opposition, once the decision was made, he wouldn't second-guess himself or express any doubt to others.

"Americans play to win at all times," Patton once said. "I wouldn't give a hoot in Hell for a man who lost and laughed." While baseball is certainly not the same as war, I still want my team to play to win at all times, to expect to win starting as Minor Leaguers, to develop a winning attitude in the tradition of the great Yankee teams of the past and present. And don't ever let me catch anybody on my team laughing in the locker room after a tough loss. I can see very close parallels between General Patton's philosophy and that of the great football coach Vince Lombardi who said: "Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all-the-time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing."

I know from firsthand experience that many of Lombardi's top players, at times during the campaigns, detested his leadership and his genius. Packers' Hall-of-Fame defensive tackle Henry Jordan once said, "He treats us all the same. Like dogs." But now that the championships have been won by those great Packer teams, don't dare challenge or question Coach Lombardi to any of his ex-players. If you do, I can assure you, you'll regret it.

Patton's lessons on leadership are valuable guidelines that can be applied by managers in all walks of life, from the baseball diamond to the manufacturing plant to the corporate boardroom. There is no doubt in my mind that Patton, though he had numerous detractors, was what we refer to in sports as the "go-to man." When the ballgame or battle is on the line and when the odds against you seem almost insurmountable, the man you look to is your "go-to guy." Certainly it can be said that General George S. Patton was the Allies' "go-to-guy" in the Second World War and probably one of the greatest in the history of Military Science. I think you'll be as inspired as I have been in reading this book and studying the true genius of General George S. Patton..

—George M. Steinbrenner III
Principal Owner of the New York Yankees

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Patton on Leadership: Strategic Lessons for Corporate Warfare 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
General George S. Patton, Jr., was a legend in his own time. While known for his coarse language, he was also respected as a brilliant tactician and terrific motivator. Those who served with him weren't just 'in the war' or 'in the army,' they were Patton's men. This hard-driving leader instilled confidence, acted decisively, and excelled under relentless pressure. His army moved at unprecedented speed, always on the attack and not on the defensive. Patton did not write extensively; he was challenged by dyslexia. But he said a lot, was often quoted, and was written about. Historians have a rich treasure of who this unusual man was and the impact he had on others . . . and ultimately on the world. His approach to his work was clear and direct, making him an excellent case study and role model. Role model? A man who spat profanity in almost every sentence? Ah, look beyond the rough exterior that actually endeared him to his men. Look at how Patton thought, his philosophies. That's where the lessons are. This book delivers 183 of those lessons in short, tight, bite-size pieces. This is a book you can read cover-to-cover or refer to as an inspirational resource. Each lesson is constructed as a Patton quote, with Axelrod's interpretation of the meaning, the purpose, and the impact of the words. The flavor throughout the book is how Patton's military style and experience applies to management and leadership of today's business organization. Or any organization, for that matter. The beginning of the book includes an enlightening biographical profile of Patton to understand the context of the man. The volume concludes with some recommended reading and a helpful index. As a reviewer, I'm tempted to start listing some of the titles of those 183 lessons. I'll resist, because it will be too difficult to present a representative sample. Every page of this book is filled with concise, valuable insights. Thought-provoking as well as inspiring, Patton on Leadership should be read-and applied-by leaders at all levels. Invest a few dollars and some of your reading time. You'll get a good return on your investment with this book.
Bulletbob More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I bought it for my children. Success or failure in any organization, military or civilian, is always the leadership. My in-brief to new personnel: Your job is to do my job; my job is to ensure conditions exist so you can do my job.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book reveals the brilliant, coarse and own view of Patton's leadership lessons applied to set objectives, goals and to be an effective coach and mentor in business. As Patton saw it, a leader cannot lead by remote control,ensconced in an office. An on-site presence is always called for, the object being not only to see the situation for yourself, but to be seen by the people you lead.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most of the world views General George S. Patton as an egotistical, vane, power hungry, bloodthirsty warmonger. What he really was was probably the greatest motivator, planner, organizer, tactician and stategist the US Army has ever produced. Through a lifetime of study and application, Patton amassed a core set of practices and techniques that successfully and smoothly transform into the business world. Mr. Axelrod reviews these precepts and expands on their application to real-world business needs. Any business manager would be well advised to study these methods to become a more effective leader, and realize what the General always viewed as the final objective: To Win!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book condenses the essential Patton into easily digestible and rememberable pieces. A must read for the corporate soldier of today.