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George Washington and the Art of Business: The Leadership Principles of America's First Commander-in-Chief Hardcover – January 18, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While few American figures inspire like George Washington, this book's attempt to distill management wisdom from his career feels as wooden as Washington's mythic set of teeth. McNeilly, a former IBM executive with military experience, never fully applies Washington's life and lessons to current business leadership. While we learn that Washington was a successful businessman and brilliant military tactician and leader, he never fully comes to life. McNeilly spends too much of the text spinning the greatest hits of Washington's military career before dipping briefly into his career as a diplomat and, almost as an afterthought, first president of the United States. Washington's ability to organize and train the first Continental Army, comprising citizens and governed by merit, segues into a lengthy and irrelevant discussion of how Alfred Sloan created the modern General Motors and a puzzling digression about iconic automobile designer Harley Earl. McNeilly's generally-agreed-upon-best-business-practices lack novelty. We learn that Washington was not alone in scoring by collecting good intelligence on his enemies: McDonald's and Staples employed similar strategies against their competitors. This is a missed opportunity to present provocative and insightful ideas about the key to a legend's success. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Author of the phenomenal, trend-setting Sun Tzu and the Art of Business, Mark McNeilly now turns his sights to the first commander-in-chief, revealing how Washington's self-discipline, persistence, character, and organizational skills offer a working model for success in today's business world."--Steven Heine, Professor and Director of Asian Studies at Florida International University, author of White Collar Zen

"McNeilly brings George Washington to life in a vivid and relevant manner by insightfully linking his leadership skills to today's business challenges."--Allen Adamson, author of Brand Simple

"George Washington's leadership traits--character, courage, vision, innovation, and wisdom--are crucial to building and growing a business. In his insightful book Mark McNeilly shows how we have taken those traits for granted, and how, by rediscovering them, we can have the next best thing to Washington himself running our company."-- Philip Kotler, S.C. Johnson Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

"As Mark McNeilly makes clear, George Washington's successes--which more often than not followed his failures--were due to one factor above others: the quality of his character. If you aspire to be a leader in business, buy this book and heed its lessons."--B. Joseph Pine II, co-author, Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want

"George Washington possessed a deep, almost innate, understanding of the importance of information and intelligence-essential ingredients for all great leaders. Mark McNeilly has done a masterful, highly readable and insightful, job revealing just how much these attributes can mean to successful business leaders."--Daryl Travis, CEO and Founder, Brandtrust

"With George Washington and the Art of Business, Mark McNeilly has written the ideal primer for teaching leadership development at the highest levels."--William H. Grumbles, Jr., Executive in Residence, Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195189787
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195189780
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1.2 x 5.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,967,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark is the author of two books on Sun Tzu's Art of War as well a one on George Washington and business leadership.

Sun Tzu and the Art of Business: Six Strategic Principles for Managers helps business people apply Sun Tzu's strategic philosophy to business problems. With this book now updated in 2011 and translated into five different languages.

Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare was created for those who have an interest in how Sun Tzu's ideas have been applied in military history and current warfare. First published in 2001 Mark is working on updating it for publication in 2014.

George Washington and the Art of Business: Leadership Principles of America's First Commander-in-Chief, was published in January of 2008 and applies Washington's leadership lessons to business.

Mark has presented to thousands of people about Sun Tzu's ideas on strategy in the U.S. Europe and Asia, including 3M, IBM, the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, and the US Air Force Command and Staff College. Mark has also discussed his ideas on strategy on the BBC, C-SPAN, CNBC's TV Show Power Lunch, the Business News Network program Market Track, the Voice of America's Weekly Business Report, Bloomberg's business news, the syndicated radio program Secrets of Success and numerous other TV and radio programs. He most recently appeared as a guest analyst on the History Channel Special on Sun Tzu's Art of War in May 2009.

Mark is a Lecturer at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he teaches marketing. He is a former marketing executive whose thirty year career at IBM and Lenovo includes experience in strategy, marketing and management. He is an Expert Blogger for Fast Company magazine. Mark served as a reserve officer (highest rank-Captain) in the U.S. Army National Guard from 1981-1987.

Mark lives in Cary, NC with his wife. His pastimes include sports, history and computer strategy simulations.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In recent years, a great deal of attention has been devoted to one or more of the founding fathers, especially Washington, Jefferson, and Adams. What we have in this volume is Mark McNeilly's analysis of what lessons can be learned from George Washington's leadership as commander-in-chief of the Colonial forces during the War for Independence and then as the new nation's first president. He responds to the question "Why George Washington?" in the Introduction and then, in the first two chapters, he examines "the foundation of Washington's leadership principles" and how the American Revolution was organized in the first two chapters. During the balance of the book, McNeilly identifies and discusses the aforementioned leadership principles and devotes a separate chapter to each.

McNeilly brilliantly juxtaposes his presentation of historical material with the business lessons he believes can be learned from it. I also appreciate the fact that he cites specific companies when doing so. For example, in Chapter 2, he reviews various competitive disadvantages Washington encountered at the outset of the war. "Could I have foreseen what I have experienced and am likely to experience, no consideration upon earth should have induced me to accept this command." Yet, despite all the unexpected problems such as the continuous expiration of enlistments that depleted his forces, the 43 year-old general did not quit. "Washington made his share of mistakes: choosing to defend New York when it was in reality indefensible, not protecting his flank on Long Island Heights, and losing Fort Washington and its garrison. Yet after setback he returned to fight again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Julie on April 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Mark McNeilly has done an excellent job of presenting clear, explicit points in his book George Washington and the Art of Business. By providing a direct correlation between George Washington's life and character traits with the stages of business and leadership tactics, McNeilly has shown that the main characteristics needed to create a successful business are also those which are needed to be a successful and exceptional leader. Included as well are examples of how these leadership characteristics correlate to building a strong sports team/organization. McNeilly has directly linked the battles of war with the battles of business (teams), and also explains the ways different leaders and different businesses have handled these battles.

This book is very much two-fold. On one hand McNeilly has provided the most important leadership characteristics necessary to be a successful leader in life, in business, and in sports. But also McNeilly has shown that it is not necessarily just having and upholding these characteristics but acting in the integrity of them. Although the characteristics are many and are very difficult to maintain, McNeilly provides a depiction of the stages through which individuals, teams, and businesses evolve. The journey through these stages is not always smooth sailing and prosperous, but very difficult and painful at times. Some of the most valuable lessons are learned through these failures. And a failure in and of itself is only a failure, but a failure that is used as an educational experience is a lesson with the potential to be a future success.

In addition McNeilly has provided the history of George Washington's life which steps a reader through the American Revolution. The United States was built on the results of the American Revolution.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H. Edge on May 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a great read for professionals at all levels. There is a lesson here for everyone.

Much has been written about Washington's leadership, but this book tells the story from a unique and practical point of view. Marrying his extensive knowledge of American history and corporate strategy, McNeilly focuses on Washington's strong character and illustrates how today's businesses and business leaders can (and do) significantly benefit from employing the same core principles as Washington did hundreds of years ago.

Even a great leader like Washington encountered many obstacles and failures along the way to achieving success and inspiring a nation. Washington can teach us a great deal about how to persevere in the wake of failure, develop a winning strategy, build a strong team, earn the support of your organization, and put aside personal agenda for the sake of the common goal.

McNeilly points out how Washington employed sound principles like integrity, trust, loyalty and restraint to achieve much success in many very difficult situations both on the battleground and in the early days of our political system. He then enlightens the reader by balancing this unique historical perspective with detailed, modern-day examples of business leaders who have experienced similar trials in the corporate realm. It is both clear and inspiring to see that, when challenges are met with the same core principles, one can overcome obstacles, gain trust and ultimately achieve victory. People at all levels in the business world and all stages of personal life can benefit from this.
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