Eight true stories show that Leaders today aren't just bosses, they're self-starters who take charge even when they haven't been given a charge. Upward leaders get results by helping their superiors lead. They make sure that good ideas don't die on the vine because a boss's understanding doesn't reach down deep enough into the organization. Upward leadership assures that advice arrives from all points on the corporate compass, not just from the top down. And it applies at every level: Even CEOs need to learn about leading up because they ultimately answer to their boards. In Leading Up, Michael Useem offers instructive accounts of this vital and unexplored facet of leadership. Drawing on the extraordinary experiences of real people, Useem shows us what happens when those not in charge rise to the challenge, and also what happens when those who should step forward fail to do so: * Civil War generals openly disrespected and frequently misinformed their commanders in chief, with tragic consequences for both sides.
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March 25, 2003
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Excerpt from Leading Up by Michael Useem
Informing Your Commander
General Robert E. Lee Informed His Commander in Chief, but Generals Joseph E. Johnston and George B. McClellan Did Not, and Their Causes Paid Dearly
The American Civil War brought to the fore hundreds of military officers whose battlefield decisions have shaped our history. Some proved adept in commanding troops, other proved disastrous. Some worked exceedingly well with their superiors, others just the opposite.
Those dexterous -- or disastrous -- at leading up could be found on both the Union and Confederate sides of the battlefields. In this resource, neither side dominated, and both sides discovered that its supply often spelled the difference between triumph and disaster. Nowhere is this more evident than in the contrasting styles of three of the great generals of the Civil War: George B. McClellan, Joseph E. Johnston, and Robert E. Lee.
By spring of 1862, a year after Confederate rebels fired on Federal troops at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, a Union army under McClellan's command was on the offensive. With more than 120,000 troops and enormous siege guns, McClellan sent his force up a Virginia peninsula toward the Confederate capital of Richmond. His strategy was simple: destroy the defending army, capture the Confederate leadership, end the war.
Though attacking to restore the Union, George McClellan treated its commander in chief with thinly veiled disdain. In the general's view, Abraham Lincoln was uncouth, uncivilized, and untutored in battlefield affairs. McClellan would insulate his strategy against meddling from the president by resisting policy directives, inflating enemy threats, and withholding battlefield reports. For his part, Lincoln was less interested in personalities than results, but without orders honored, numbers trusted, or intelligence delivered, how could he render McClellan the support he requested
Meanwhile, as McClellan launched his vast and unprecedented military campaign against Richmond, the Confederacy assigned its premier commander, Joseph E. Johnston, the imperative of defending the capital. Like McClellan, Johnston was supremely confident in his own generalship and brooked no advice from political superiors. To ensure that little advice was received, he kept the Confederacy's supreme commander, President Jefferson Davis, in the dark.
But President Davis had been a military commander in his own right. A graduate of West Point and a veteran of the Mexican War, he had served as chairman of the U.S. Senate's military affairs committee and as U.S. secretary of war. He expected his commanders to welcome his advice, but he also appreciated that he could render real counsel only if his commanders informed him of what they were facing in the field and what they were intending to do about it.
When a shell fragment felled Johnston on May 31, 1862, President Davis replaced him with his own aide, Robert E. Lee. General Lee continued his own well-established practice of informing and consulting with the president. The result was Davis's unswerving support for Lee. Lee received the men and materiel he required, and within days he had stopped the Union advance on Richmond that General McClellan had been unable to sustain and General Johnston unable to reverse.