George Washington: Leader In Business

A man amongst many strengths and weaknesses, George Washington’s journey through life has portrayed countless characteristics both inspiring and worthy of learning from. More specifically, Washington’s business endeavors display leadership qualities that citizens may utilize in today’s industries and society overall. From family matters, personal struggles, and becoming the President of the United States, George Washington was handed adversity in the least. However, business was an admirable part of his life which gave light to his greatest traits 1as a citizen and business leader. Those who follow and learn by his example may find themselves more successful than they could ever dream up.

With his fair share of weaknesses, such as gambling, having exploited slave labor, lack of self-control, and short-tempered anger issues, one would likely be in disbelief that this man was a leader, let alone the President of the United States. Though there really is no excuse for this lifestyle and these behaviors, Washington did all that he could to improve himself and became a better man for it. Knowing that his reputation was at stake, he decided to start seeking the approval of others. It was vital for his ability to self-regulate and put his best foot forward at becoming a successful man. He also tried to role-play various characters or identities per say, to help develop the greatest attributes he could. Doing so, commendable and effective qualities became second nature to him, as he was able to see their cause and effect. As a leader in business or the community in general, self-regulation is a crucial part of making progress. This is practically a concept of virtue ethics, and like Washington, a person may have to admit their faults and fix them before they should even think of involving others.

At a very young age, Washington was exposed to the idea of business. His father was a successful entrepreneur and plantation owner himself. When his father passed, the property went to Washington’s brother, because he was better suited and educated at the time. This instilled a motivation for Washington to turn himself around even more, so that he could acquire a business of his own. At seventeen, he began his studies of observing land and learning all about it. He became a certified surveyor and then purchased his first large piece of land, around 2,000 acres shortly afterwards. When Washington’s brother Lawrence had sadly passed away, the plantation estate known as “Mount Vernon” was then carried on to Washington. He wanted to serve it well.

After marriage to Martha Custis, George Washington gained and managed even more land, due to Martha’s previous husband passing on and leaving them with his estate also. This was after the French and Indian war, and Mount Vernon had not been taken care of too properly. Washington delved into his plantation management, as an escape from his depression and apprehension from time in the war. Upon restoration of Mount Vernon, he was now overseeing five separate farming operations.This entailed hiring bricklayers and gardeners, and even renting out land to farmers who were to repay him in the tobacco that they grew. Washington found himself lending food, horses, and tools to the farmers, so that they could get started working and making money for themselves. This showed consideration for his people. He was committed to helping those who needed it and said, “I do not recollect, that in the course of my life, I ever forfeited my word, or broke a promise made to anyone.” This is a strong characteristic to have as an individual and business owner. Washington was reliable and made risks economically to become a charitable man. In the grand scheme, business and citizen leaders would not thrive or be called so, if they didn’t truly care about the people they pertain to.

Another reason Washington became successful in the business realm, was because he utilized not only tools, but the workers he hired to the best of their ability. He didn’t try to manipulate anyone or throw anything out that couldn’t be used for something. Instead, he focused on the capabilities of each and every individual, placing them where they were most productive. In today’s society, time goes by much faster in terms of technology and production. In order to keep up, one has to be smart and place their inputs or people where they fit best, in order for the business to prosper.

Washington put forth a lot of time in his business endeavors. For about five years or so, he kept trying to grow and flourish tobacco, for it to be exported. This didn’t prove to work so well, so he tried hemp, then flax. Things such as weather affected the process and those also fell short. Frustratingly so, he didn’t settle for the failures he made and finally arrived successfully at growing wheat and corn. The resiliency Washington showed amongst trying so hard to produce a product that would not only work, but thrive in the marketplace, is a quality any leader should strive to have. Washington said, “I had rather exceed than fall short,” and this quote highlights the dedication and intuitiveness of his being. As a business leader, one should keep on trying even in the face of obstacles and failure, because if Washington didn’t try again and again, who knows where his estate or livelihood would’ve ended up.

Furthermore, business leaders are more likely to be successful if they are original and creative. Washington portrays this when he realized building a mill would help his plantation crops grow more and created the water system for it himself. Not only that, but he designed the building of a “round barn,” about seventy feet up in the air. He was an innovative being who saw an opportunity to make something better, or atleast give it a try. His ambitions were achieved and Washington was the first agricultural scientist in the colonies, extremely committed to bettering his craft in multiple areas. Being unique is a quality admirable to those who want to be leaders, because you won’t stand out if you just follow the norm. Washington took his chances on the betterment of his estate, but ultimately led to being the first to do something. Having his name out there and creating useful techniques or products generates more revenue as well as followers. Business leaders today can learn from this, as it is still very relevant. Originality can be so difficult and discouraging to come by, but each individual is different and completely capable as long as they take chances, like George Washington did.

Though Washington’s time was over 220 years ago and society has vastly changed, his methods and characteristics are still applicable today. Washington portrays a successful leader in business and in life through all of his trials and tribulations, because he overcame them while affecting others around him in generous ways. A leader is, “one that encourages people to take charge, attempt to lead, make mistakes, and constantly learn.” Be as it may, a person who desires leadership should utilize tools and people to the best of their ability, try over and over again even if failure is an outcome, and keep on bettering their craft. Perhaps then, one might be a successful leader like George Washington.