Ike: Countdown to D-Day

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In the 2004 movie, Ike: Countdown to D-Day, a profile of the leadership style of General Dwight D. Eisenhower is presented as planning and preparation for the single greatest invasion in the history of the world is engaged. This paper examines the leadership style and qualities of the Supreme Allied Commander as presented in the movie and in other literary references. Management in the Cinema – Activity 2 Paper

Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed to be the Supreme Allied Commander, directing a force of over 1 million men in an operation designed to liberate Europe from Germany’s control. He was selected for his management style as evidenced by his organizational skills, his political skills and his personal character. This paper answers several questions about those aspects of the man who was tasked with planning and executing the largest, most complex invasion in the history of the world. Assignment Questions

What managerial strengths does Ike bring to the Allies as they organize for D-Day? Eisenhower was an excellent choice for Roosevelt and Churchill as Supreme Allied Commander because he had the managerial skills of organization, flexibility, diplomacy, humility, delegation and a sense of duty. These characteristics, in the right proportions, allowed Eisenhower to direct a number of difficult subordinates into planning and executing the massive and difficult invasion of Europe. Eisenhower had demonstrated his organizational skills during the performance of his duties in World War I and in the following years. Douglas MacArthur, his boss at the time and a subsequent (unwilling) subordinate, wrote of Eisenhower that “This is the best officer in the army. When the next war comes, he should go right to the top.” (Ambrose, 1994, p. 65). His command of the Allied forces in Africa against the Desert Fox, Erwin Rommel, showed his ability to be flexible, and to learn from his mistakes. This trying experience also provided examples of his innate skills at diplomacy mingled with his appropriate sense of humility (Ambrose, 1997, p. 69). His humility also permitted him to delegate responsibilities, though he did have to learn the hard way that delegation can only work when you select competent managers (Ambrose, 1997, p. 69). Perhaps most importantly, Eisenhower had a sense of duty and integrity that kept him connected with his men and his mission. When one of his generals violates the clear orders for secrecy Eisenhower is faced with deciding what to do with him. The right response is to remove him from his command and send him home. But the offending general was a friend and former classmate, and Eisenhower knew that taking his command would end his friend’s military career. Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff tells his boss that very few people know of the infraction, implying that Eisenhower was free to protect his friend’s reputation and career. Eisenhower simply states, “I know.” He then proceeds to take the appropriate, if difficult and distasteful course of action. His job was to protect his men and mission, even at the expense of personal friendships. These managerial skills gave Eisenhower the appropriate tools he needed to assume leadership of Operation Overlord. The success of the operation and the acknowledgements of his subordinates, peers and commanders help to solidify the idea that Eisenhower was precisely the right man for the job. How would you describe Ike’s management style as compared to Churchill, Patton, Montgomery and Bradley? What do you see as distinguishing managerial factors that lead Ike being named the Supreme Allied Commander? Eisenhower’s style of leadership was noticeably different from other candidates for the position of Supreme Allied Commander. Patton and Montgomery were known for their ego-centricities, and Marshall was unavailable. Eisenhower was most like Bradley in style; usually deferential but ferocious in advocating a position, and accepting of...
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