Lessons in Leadership
CHESTERTOWN, MD—In anticipation of Presidents’ Day, Forbes invited Washington College president Mitchell B. Reiss to explore leadership as embodied by the nation’s best known Founding Father. President Reiss, in turn, reached out to leading historians and civic leaders for their perspectives on what made George Washington such an effective and beloved leader, and what it takes to lead today.
In framing the discussion, President Reiss points out that early on in his military career, Washington made many missteps and bad calls. He could be “impetuous, highly emotional, and even reckless at times.” So how, he asks, did that ambitious young man become one of our country’s greatest political and military leaders, the gold standard by which we judge our leaders today?
Among the historians who weigh in are Gordon S. Wood, Joseph Ellis, Richard Brookhiser, and two recent winners of the George Washington Book Prize, Richard Beeman (2010) and Stephen Brumwell (2013). Reiss also talked to Pew Charitable Trusts CEO Rebecca Rimel, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and Duke University Chancellor Emeritus Ralph Snyderman ’61.