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Leadership of General George S. Patton

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Leadership of General George S. Patton


Eugene V. Struzik III

May 23, 2011


The purpose of this research paper is to explore the different leadership styles that General George S. Patton Jr. used throughout his life, (November 11, 1885 until December 21, 1945). General Patton is often thought of as one of the most controversial generals in history. This paper will concentrate on events that happened in his life and how his determination, will and hard work helped him overcome and became a better leader. It is evident that in a review of the research General Patton was able to achieve many his success by determination and hard work to be the best in everything that he set his mind to accomplish. He was never happy, except when he was given the challenge of commanding men into battle. General Patton was a leader, a warrior and the most feared General by the Germans.

General George S. Patton was a man who is often referred to as a great general, and leader of men who was equally just as controversial. His career in the Army was often a struggle for him to advance and receive the recognition that he deserved. This paper will cover the leadership styles of General Patton during the early, then during World War I. Next it will cover World War II and finally I will give my opinion on the subject.

George S. Patton, who was sometime called Georgie, was an average child with the hopes and dreams of becoming a great military leader like his Grandfather, Great-Grandfather and many of his other relatives (Regan, 1960). He worked hard with his academic career to tried to get into West Point the United States Military Academy, but he was not accepted at first. Not deterred by this set back, he went to Virginia Military Institute (VMI) for a year (Reda, 2004). Even though he was going to VMI, he continued tirelessly to get accepted into West Point.

Finally Patton was accepted into West Point, but he found it far more challenging then he imagined it would. The major reason that he had difficulty with the studies was because he was suffering from dyslexia, a disorder that caused everything to look backwards (Reda, 2004). Although faced with these difficulties, George never gave up, even when he was forced to repeat his plebe year, due to poor academic performance. However this failure to progress only strengthened his resolve and determination to better. In an effort of almost memorizing everything from his textbooks, he was able to achieve an appointed Cadet Adjutant.

Another area that he had an interest in was sports. He encourage the introduction of sports into the school as a way for men to stay focused on studies as appose to getting in trouble (Regan, 1960). His efforts lead to the creation of the first football team and the fencing team. He felt that sport would help him and his classmate overcome the boredom of every day life at West point. In addition, it would help them overcome physical challenges through determination and it would teach them sportsmanship.

In an amazing testament to hard work and preservation, George Patton graduated from West Point. Although he did not graduate at the top of his class, he was ranked number 46 out of 103, which is amazing considering the fact that he failed his first year in the Academy. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and assigned to the US Calvery.

It was also during this time in Patton's life that he would marry his beautiful and wealthy wife, Beatrice Ayer. Her father was not fond of her marring a military man, because he felt that this would keep his daughter far away from her family. In fact her father, Frederick Ayer, offered George a job in the family business if he would just resign his commission in the Army. However, that was not something that George Patton, was able to do. He was living his dream of being an officer in the United States Army.

George's determination and hard work would reach a high point when he participated in the 1912 Olympics. Although George was not a natural athlete, he simply did what he always did work twice as hard as everyone else in an effort to be better than everyone else. It was his will and his desire to be the best that propelled him into getting fifth place during the Olympics. This raw determination to achieve a goal and accomplish the task ahead would become his trademark.

Once again George Patton's determination and desire to excel paid off. Lieutenant Patton was able to get a position as an aide to General Blackjack Pershing during the Punitive Expedition. The interesting thing about this appointment was General Pershing was not taking people to his staff. In fact, it was a letter that Lieutenant Patton wrote to General Pershing requesting to be considered for an appointment to the General's staff that gave George the opportunity of a lifetime. Here he would learn what it took to be a good Calvary Officer and he would make important contact that would serve him well in the future.

This leads into the second main point of this paper, which is Patton emerging into a leader. It is 1917, and the United States has just declared war on Germany. Patton got another chance to serve under General Blackjack Pershing. Pershing gave Patton a promotion to the rank of Captain and appointed him the Tank commander for the American troops. This was not an easy task for Captain Patton, since he had to develop a training program, and tactics for the new technological advancement of the tank. This was Patton's first leadership challenge that would set the tone for how he dealt with all of the other challenges in his life.

He was the "first tank commander" (Reagan, 1960), with this job he took on the daunting task of creating the first Tank Command in Europe. "Patton single-handedly created the, the AEF Tank Training Center. He created the, the ideas, the tactics, the design, the uniforms, the procedures. Virtually, everything that was done came from Patton" (Reda, 2004). Patton realized the need for training and the benefit that he would get on the battle field. Drawing from his own experience, Patton viewed the tank as the calvary of the future.

It would be during this First World War that he would develop many of his leadership skills. As was pointed out by Captain VonShell, "Instill a sense of security in the men, by so doing you will help them overcome their fears" (1933, p. 17). Patton exemplified this behavior, by being the first person to ride on a tank for in combat even though there was machine gun fire raining down on him (Reda,



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