What Ike Can Say To Us Today

I was an adolescent when Eisenhower was president of the United States. As a young boy I remember good times, however, I don’t know if it was because of economic prosperity or if I was just young and naive. Today, though, I think Ike has something to say to us. His message is in line with what I am trying to accomplish with this blog. The decisions managers make are never just business, it is always business and personal. Therefore, how managers make those decisions and the reasons behind the decisions is critical.

David Eisenhower has written a Point of View for Bloomberg’s Business Week that I find very intriguing. For those of you who have never heard of David Eisenhower, he is the grandson of Ike. the purpose behind this article is to remind us what his grandfather said about the military-industrial complex. Ike warned us to watch out for this group of corporations, especially if they acquired “unwarranted influence.”

The unwarranted influence should concern all of us. We need to ask why our leaders are in the position they are? Why are they running for office? Why do managers want to be CEO? Is it some desire for personalized power that allows them to take advantage of their position and of people? Or is it socialized in nature where they are in the position they are to do the best they can as leaders and serve their constituency? I really think this is what Ike had in mind. David Eisenhower describes his grandfather quite well. “Having witnessed, as the Supreme Allied Commander in World War II, what can happen when a totalitarian movement succeeds in reducing citizenship to spectatorship, Eisenhower believed active and effective citizens were the best antidote to fear. He believed in popular control of institutions formed to meet great problems.” Eisenhower worked tirelessly to reduce big government.

However, it was not just big government that he was against. “He was not the first to identify that complex, nor the first to warn of self-interested and self-perpetuating nature of large corporate-public complexes.” As the good book says, “those that are given much, much is required of them.” So if one is in leadership they have been given great opportunity, and because of that opportunity they should step up and serve. My version of level 5 leadership is humility, service, and professional will.

Therefore, the concentration of wealth within four or five very large firms in New York City should be a concern. At least that is how Ike saw it. I think we should too.

And that is my thought for the day!


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