Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Studies in Leadership: Gen. George Patton

Posted by admin February - 16 - 2021 - Tuesday

I have read extensively on WW II. I guess I enjoy that era so much because it was America’s “Greatest Generation”— which also happens to be my dad’s generation. I seem to be drawn to that period in history. My mom shared with me that the biggest disappointment in my dad’s life was that he could not serve in the military during WW II. He was born with a cleft pallet and hair lip so he was classified 4F. He stayed home and coached the local high school football team during the war. I guess that’s where my desire to coach came from!

Some of the greatest leaders in history (both military and civilian) lived and led during WW II. George Patton was, in my opinion, one of the greatest military leaders in the history of warfare. He was different…. but the characteristics that made him different were ultimately what made him such a great leader. Patton simply did not care what others thought of him. That is… except for the soldiers who fought under his command. With his men, he made sure that they understood what he expected of them. When they performed, he was quick to compliment them. When they failed in their duty, they heard about that too! A strong disciplinarian, he demanded discipline from those who worked for him. Looking good in his uniform was a priority for Patton and he expected the same in his men.

Patton was a hustler… and he made sure that his men hustled too! He was fast. He could move his tanks at an incredible rate to attack the enemy where they never expected him to be. (Think the Battle of the Bulge around Bastogne!) Patton liked to stay on the offensive. He was aggressive— preferring to attack rather than waiting for the enemy to do something first.

An excellent “student of the game of warfare,” Patton was a man of strategy. He scouted well and knew the terrain his tanks would have to travel over. He also gained a lot of information about his enemy— both their strengths and weaknesses. Because of this, Patton’s tank corps could make their opponent divide his forces so that Patton only attacked part of them.

Finally, Patton knew what he wanted to do and how to do it. He rarely asked for council of others. He was THE leader! He was harder on himself than he was on his staff officers. He was not going to be out-worked by anyone who worked for him. He was best summed up by his staff officers. They called General George Patton “true, brave and honest.” Is that how your staff, Head Coaches, would describe YOU???!!!

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