By Gino Blefari
President & CEO
Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.

“There can never be defeat if a man refuses to accept defeat.  Wars are lost in the mind before they are lost on the ground”
–  George Smith Patton, Jr.

Better known as General Patton, George Smith Patton, Jr. is known for leading the U.S Third Army during World War II.  Under his command, the unit led the breakout from the Normandy beachheads, across Europe, and into Germany, going farther and faster than any other army in the history of warfare.

Of course, he didn’t just land in this position of power.  Patton was an extremely focused and ambitious man.  So much so that is occasionally got him in trouble including an incident that resulted in conflict with the British allies during WW II and other that insulted his own country.  The second incident ignited such a public and professional outrage, that he was ordered by Dwight D. Eisenhower to apologize.  Patton did so with such conviction that he turned a career-breaking nightmare into a morale-building triumph.

My dad actually served under General Patton and was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge.  Once at the hospital, he was presented with a Purple Heart by General Patton and General Eisenhower. How about that for some family history.

Throughout his life, Patton accomplished the following:

  • In childhood, overcame severe dyslexia
  • Major architect, builder, organizer, and master tactician of modern armored (tank) warfare
  • Proved himself a master tactician during the largest, most ambitious military training maneuvers the U.S. Army had ever staged, on the eve of the nation’s entry into WWII
  • Transformed a defeated and thoroughly demoralized American force in North Africa into an army capable of defeating the Nazis’ most brilliant general, Erwin Rommel, the feared “Desert Fox”
  • Invaded Sicily with lightning speed that outstripped even the British general Sir Bernard Law Montgomery
  • As commanding general of the Third Army, relentlessly drove across France and into Germany, destroying more of the enemy and liberating more towns than any other commander in the history of American arms
  • Performed a tactical miracle at the Battle of the Bulge, turning his troops, exhausted from three months of forced march and continual battle, 90 degrees north to launch a bold counterattack into the southern flank of the German army to rescue encircled U.S. forces

Following his lead, we can learn the following lessons from General Patton to become the leaders we want to be.

  1. Lead from the front, not from behind.
  2. Always look and act like a leader in everything you do.
  3. Share the risk, the liabilities, and the credit with those you lead.
  4. Opportunities are easily lost.  Better to act on a good plan than wait for perfection, which may never come.
  5. Know exactly what you are doing.  Know what you know – and what you do not know.
  6. Leadership by remote control is bound to fail.  Get out from behind your desk and into the world.
  7. When you see a problem, don’t cast blame.  Work the problem.  Fix it now.
  8. Choose your battles.  Don’t waste resources on worthless fights.