The Good Leader in Public Capacity

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The leadership of George Washington

Administrative leadership has a number of unique traits that distinguish this kind of leadership from other executive positions. In particular, as a rule, a public administrator has a greater responsibility. The reason is that his/her actions and decisions impact the entire community. Besides, the administrative leader should be charismatic and appealing for people, he/she must gather followers with their own power. Although unlike organizational management public capacity requires a stricter attitude towards subordinators and stakeholders. Without a doubt, this peculiarity (the need to be liked and followed while setting strict rules with limited possibilities of compromises) significantly complicates the performance of such an administrative leader. To comprehend what leadership style and which strategies distinct a good lead from a bad one, this paper aims at observing and discussing the positive example of George Washington’s leadership.

Purpose of the Study

This research is aimed at surveying an example of autocratic leadership style. Moreover, it will discuss such important elements of effective management as communicative skills, energy, moral leadership, a positive attitude (belief in the likelihood of success), and sound judgment. In addition, this paper will identify leadership characteristics that can be successfully implemented through that conflict with autocratic leadership. This essay is structured to provide a brief overview of the key points in Washington’s leadership biography with the purpose to analyze them in the discussion section.

George Washington is a Positive Example of Executive Power

A leadership career of George Washington begins with constructing an appealing image of a person who possesses courage, business traits, and is able to make a considerable contribution into the social development, political and economic improvements of his nation. One may consider an example “as a soldier he demonstrated enough courage and decisiveness to become the commander of the Virginia troops that defended the state’s western frontier during the French and Indian War” (Center for Civil Education, n. d.). Apart from his noticeable military skills, Washington demonstrates business knowledge by founding and maintaining a tobacco plantation. Basically, the success in these two important areas predefines his victory in the elections to the Virginia House of Burgesses (the Center for Civil Education, n. d.), which becomes a platform for his famous career of a politician.

George Washington reveals a vivid instance of charismatic leadership by gathering the army with the purpose to defeat the British imperialism in the United States. The young military leader succeeded with his ambitions even though his armed community was poorly trained. The British troops were defeated, and the USA gained its freedom. It goes without saying that after such remarkable actions, Washington automatically received a leadership position in the new country. To regulate the rights, obligations, and freedoms of the liberated American society the discussed executive adopted the Constitutional Convention in 1787 (the Center for Civil Education, n. d.). Two years later, in 1789, Washington became the first president of the United States.

Being ahead of the country that had been building the career of a military leader, Washington understood the importance of unity between these two forces (civil and military). Specifically, the first US president comprehended that “the purpose of the army was to carry out the will of the civil government” (the Center for Civil Education, n. d.). This peculiarity in public administration is crucial for the successful development of any democratic society. That is why, George Washington “was careful not to exceed the bounds of his legal authority” (the Center for Civil Education, n. d.). In his vision, the army should be strong. However, it should not stand as an independent force. Instead, the army should be naturally incorporated as a part of the country. The actions of the native military forces should be subordinated to the state’s goals.

Moreover, the discussed executive understood the critical role of a strong national government (the Center for Civil Education, n. d.). This insight implied the need to create a strong and effective legislative base. The rationale is simple: the government should have the rules on which it can rely. Meanwhile, everyone is sure that these concepts are obligatory for every citizen and also for the state as an administrative entity. The common legislative base created to support the national government implies that the new American society was built on the principles of democracy and people’s equality. Undoubtedly, it is possible to maintain this approach only if the chief executive serves his state in frames of moral leadership.

In this regard, George Washington accentuates “the value of a strong executive in the hands of a trustworthy person” (the Center for Civil Education, n. d.). In other words, according to him, a leader should be competent in the managed area, be willing to serve citizens, and protect the needs of his/her country (the Center for Civil Education, n. d.). This premise eliminates the occurrence of corruption. It is noticed that the first US president “avoided making appointments on the basis of social standing, heritage, or friendship” (the Center for Civil Education, n. d.). Instead, he believes that every position should be occupied by an expert regardless of his/her connections and heritage. Without a doubt, this attitude characterizes Washington as a trustworthy leader who served the national interests and, thus, was greatly appealing for American people.

Another significant quality that, according to this famous person, is an obligatory trait of a good executive is to be an energetic leader (the Center for Civil Education, n. d.). This politician emphasizes that the president’s performance should be tangible. His/her people should mark their chief person as active and hardworking. Otherwise, the public administration of a poorly-energetic leader is expected to be non-effective and, probably, even wicked for his/her community. In the conditions of having a trustworthy and energetic president, the authority is expected to become more prominent and powerful. It enhances the ability to persuade and lead people in accordance with the president’s views being not negotiable. The public administration (especially presidency) should be maintained applying to autocratic leadership.

In this regard, George Washington accentuates “the virtues of nonpartisan government” (the Center for Civil Education, n. d.). The rationale is that a state as a body should have the goals being common for all citizens at every level. The conflicts of interests must be resolved in accordance with the set public aims. The emergence of several parties implies the division of society that is based on the diversity of goals. As a result, individuals lose a sense of unity. They stop to be joined by similar aims. Furthermore, the authority of government and president is compromised because it is also divided (shared) by different views and purposes. The next section is aimed at linking the above-discussed practical views and actions that characterize the administrative leadership of George Washington as a positive example of executive power with resonating leadership theories and strategies.


To begin with, it is necessary to highlight that public administration differs from organizational management. The reason is that it presumes a stricter subordination. For instance, public capacity excludes the use of transformational leadership as a major management style. Instead, administrative leaders utilize autocratic (also known as authoritarian), democratic, and laisses-fire types of leadership (Naidu, 2005, p. 204). In the discussed case, the chief executive implements the authoritarian style. To understand it, one should refer to the definition. An autocratic leader “assumes full authority and responsibility” (Naidu, 2005, p. 204). If to analyze the example of George Washington he organizes his performance in compliance with the work of the Congress and according to public demands. Nevertheless, the authority and responsibility for the success of internal and external relations lie upon the president.

Another example that illustrates his preference for authoritarian leadership is the above-revealed views towards the virtue of the non-partied government. In this case, it is natural to assume that the set goals are proclaimed and communicated by one person. This individual is a chief of the state, which means that power, in fact, is accumulated in the same hands. This particularity in public capacity suggests that the leader utilizes an authoritarian leadership style. In public administration, it is highly effective. The reason is that the citizens of one state should be compelled to value collective needs (Van Wart, 2003). This policy develops the individual’s ability to successfully align personal needs with collective interests. As a result, people are capable of living in unity with their inner selves as well as with the social environment around them.

While analyzing the benefits of autocratic leadership style, in particular, of Washington’s administrative performance, it is necessary to accentuate the following fact. Such management is proper and effective only when it is subordinated to the concept of moral leadership. Scholars explain that “moral leadership emerges from and always returns to, the fundamental wants and needs of followers” (Van Wart, 2003, p. 225). In other words, if the chief executives neglect the principles of moral leadership, they are at risk of losing their followers. Referring to the example of Washington’s powerful leadership, one can rightfully deduce as follows. Adhering to trustworthy and energetic management without a corruption became the core moral principles predefining his success.

Among other essential qualities of a good leader, it is appropriate to mention well-developed communicative skills. Undoubtedly, being capable of showing the goals and visions, as well as being able to inspire other people to follow them public administrator should possess these qualities. Presumably, the ability to effectively communicate is not innate. On the contrary, it is being formed simultaneously with experience. For example, Washington begins his career with military service and tobacco business. It means that he learns to conduct a fruitful interaction in these leading spheres of the 18th century in the USA. As a result, when the time of elections comes, the discussed leader knows what should be told, which words, intonation, body language and other verbal and non-verbal means of communication have to be used. Effective communication is a vital aspect that stems from experience. Therefore, to become a good public leader one should begin with gaining experience in the leading fields of the community he/she aims to cover.

A conjunctive element of powerful leadership is a sound judgment (Naidu, 2005, p. 204). It is the ability to present arguments in the most effective way with the purpose to accomplish the set goals. A sound judgment presumes “a depth of reasoning power, a sense of perception, insight, and understanding” (Naidu, 2005, p. 204). In the case, if it is advanced it helps to construct a chain of reasoning to be used in communicating the views and missions to followers. Linking this skill to George Washington’s performance, one may conclude that this leader is capable of constructing sound judgments. It is related to his rich experience in military and business fields. Therefore, reasoning requires intelligence, which should consist of theoretical and practical knowledge.

Moreover, a good public leader is expected to have trust in what he/she is doing. It is known as optimism that suggests some hope in a certain affair to be successful. This quality is intuitive and suggestive. It empowers adherents and inspires new people to follow a chief person. Scrutinizing the nature of a positive attitude, it is possible to state the following fact. As the previous aspects, it stems from experience. Specifically, if the leader is competent, he/she has a precise vision of the appropriate actions. As a result, this person passes confidence to followers. For example, at the beginning of his career, George Washington managed to inspire his army to follow him fighting against the British forces. The US army was weaker but having a leader with a positive attitude added some optimism. It became a critically important variable. Therefore, a good public administrator should always remember about positivism.

Finally, it is appropriate to identify flexibility as the quality that contributes to positive leadership through conflicts with autocratic management style. On one hand, it is necessary for a successful negotiation that is aimed at resolving or preventing conflicts by finding compromises. Besides, flexibility is important for implementing changes (Naidu, 2005). On the other hand, it is a kind of cheating when it comes to protecting the set common goals. It is especially difficult to be flexible in the authoritarian leadership style when all responsibility is assigned to the chief. Therefore, this trait is rather conflicting than complementary to the discussed management style. Nevertheless, it is an important characteristic of every leader who maintains another leadership strategy.


Summing up the above-mentioned, one should say the following fact. The leadership of George Washington is a vivid example of a positive and strong executive power. To support this claim it is appropriate to point to the following aspects. The first American president implements and supports an authoritarian leadership style. It is manifested in his reluctance of constructing the multi-partied government. The success of his public administration relies upon such components as strong adherence to moral leadership, energetic and trustworthy performance, good communicative skills, and a strong ability to construct sound judgments. Moreover, Washington is imprinted in history as a charismatic leader who can empower people with his positivism and optimism. Similarly, the discussed case of positive public leadership is characterized by a lack of flexibility. It is natural as despite being an important tool of negotiation, it contradicts with the autocratic leadership style.

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