Home > Books I have read recently, Leadership > Leadership lessons from Meriwether Lewis

Leadership lessons from Meriwether Lewis


Just finished reading Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose, a fascinating read and one that goes fairly quickly, even at 484 pages! In the Aftermath, Ambrose reflects on Lewis’ life. Like all of us, he was not perfect–he made mistakes and his life ended tragically. But, here are a few of the positive leadership lessons I picked out of Ambrose’s summary on Lewis. 481-483

He was a good man in crisis.

His intense curiosity about everything new he saw around him was infectious.

He was a man of high energy and was at times impetuous, but this was tempered by his great self-discipline.

How he led is no mystery. His techniques are time-honored. He knew his men. He saw to it that they had dry socks, enough food, sufficient clothing. He pushed them to but never beyond the breaking point. He got out of them more than they knew they had to give. His concern for them was that of a father for his son. He was the head of a family.

He didn’t make many mistakes. His orders were clear, concise, and correct.

He shared the work. He cooked for the men, and poled a canoe.

He had a sense, a feel, for how his family was doing. He knew exactly when to take a break, when to issue a gill, when to push for more, when to encourage, when to inspire, when to tell a joke, when to be tough.

He knew how to keep a distance between himself and the men, and just how big it should be. He knew his profession and was proud of it and one of the very best at it.

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