20 Jul 2022


Comparing Modern Leaders to Maverick Leaders of the Past

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America has fought many under the leadership of some of the bravest leaders in history. The leaders left a mark in history that has made historians focus on the leadership approaches of the Maverick leaders associated with traditional leadership approaches such as the leaders personally going to battlefields and other hands-on techniques. The Maverick leaders were not only motivated by the reputation that came with victory but also by survival. In the contemporary world, military leaders are not involved in wars and battles. They have a team of employees that ensure their orders are followed as they supervise the battles using technological devices, which modern leaders a mere source of military orders. However, despite the lack of a hands-on approach among contemporary leaders, there are advantages involves, such as the leaders living longer as opposed to leaders during the era of Mavericks leaders. Comparing modern leaders such as General David Howell Petraeus and Maverick leader George Washington illustrates differences and similarities between Maverick leaders of the past and contemporary leaders. 

Several changes have taken place in the recent past, which, as a result, have caused the drastic change and variation of how military activities were conducted. Th changes occurred because leaders from different eras used different military strategies and leadership styles to approach their battlefield. That brought about the significant difference that modern leaders have from the maverick leaders. In most cases, most of the maverick leaders were what made them leave the legacy, while the contemporary leaders also have their way of living as a gift. However, it cannot compare with that of the maverick leaders. As it has been categorically discussed in Robert Harvey's book on the maverick military battles, the mind cracking battles of Washington brought clear and concise military tactics, leadership styles that different leaders employed to win those battles. According to the book, Harvey introduced those leaders as the most exceptional and remarkable leaders of their time. Maverick leaders were unique in the way they puzzle in the battlefields was fascinating and always brought great success to their people. According to most scholars, Maverick leaders were those leaders who could not lose hope nonmatter the number of setbacks that they came along with, and through this, most of their followers perceived them as role models who were as well capable of doing extraordinary deeds. 

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The book Maverick Military Leaders written by Robert Harvey illustrates the unique military traits, policies used to win battles and individual leadership styles used by maverick leaders in Nelson, Patton, Rommel and Washington battles. Maverick leaders are considered exceptional and remarkable people who are hard-working, genius and resilient. Harvey presents them with tenacity who worked towards achievements and greatness despite their impediments (Campbell,2020). Maverick leaders could also be referred to as the specialized war men because of their ability to employ different strategic tactics styles and leadership skills in the battlefield movement and enable them to achieve the kind of success they were achieving. Maverick leaders were good at forming dynasties, which is a skill that most modern leaders cannot apply. That is because most modern leaders tend to fight an independent war, which portrays one of their differences from the maverick leaders. However, one of the maverick leaders includes George Washington, who led the revolutionary movement in Virginia (Hubbard, 2020). He was a British colony officer of the army and a former frontier commander of the Virginia forces. He also held the position of the commander-in-chief of the military in the united colonies of the troops that were to be raised by them and those already running in 1775 by the continental congress. 

Maverick Leaders 

George Washington was a leader who was able to work with a great of thinkers, brilliant philosophers, organizers and orators. This being the main reason as to why his leadership style was considered to be incredible, and some of the leaders that he worked for hand in hand with were John and Sam Adams, Franklin, Madison, Patrick Henry and Dickinson, to mention but a few (Hubbard, 2020). All these other leaders who George worked closely with were leaders who had a better grip and understanding of war and tactics and the leadership traits required on the battlefield that George did not have. Even though Washington was not as experienced as the other leaders, he had a unique character that gave him positions in three junctions involved in the founding of the nation where the junctions were the selection of the first president, the revolution and constitutional convention. 

One of the styles that made George unique and even be able to secure the position as the father of the nation was his intelligence and fascinating ideas on how well they could approach a battlefield. In comparison to David Petraeus leadership styles, he was famous for his great use of the counterinsurgency strategy, which portrayed a wide use of leadership styles that were seen t have a great impact and an influence on which course the army could take (Petraeus, 2019). David was also found to be convincing because he could provide comprehendible vision through his quest for the influence of building consensus. On the other hand, George was seen to be a visionary leader who still continued with his charismatic leadership even after becoming the president and ensure that the affection and loyalty of the people were never forgotten (Hubbard, 2020). He was a visionary leader driven by the idea that Washington was the type of leader who could hang on to a specific vision or goal until he realizes it no matter how long it could take. He did not make greater use of contingencies, and that he could achieve his envisioned goal, he always preplanned his steps of approaching a particular issue. 

That also leads to the conclusion that Washington was an intelligent leader. One of his most lasting legacies was how he was able to create an organizational culture since it could constitute beliefs, enduring values, and vision, which helped mostly on all the battlefields he was involved in. The fact that he envisioned success and winning any battle he was engaged in made his army believe in him, for he was a great strategized and intelligent planner who positively influenced his army (Bowers, 2019). The uniqueness about Washington that contrasts from Petraeus are the fact that George was able to focus on two aims that are seen to be seemingly different. That made them seem dependent on each other such as the fact that he could focus on the strategy and at the same time look at the tactics that the military could apply to achieve the success they needed to achieve the kind of success that they could have wanted a skill that Petraeus was finding hard to adopt (Bowers, 2019). He could only focus on uniting the army towards a common goal and later strategize on the approach and not the both simultaneously. 

George Washington's role as the commander in chief of the continental army of revolution shows how competent and unique he was when it comes to his strategies of leadership and the skills he used to succeed or make an impactful change when it comes to battles. These were some of the rare skills that peruse, who is considered a modern elder, lacked even though he had his ways of approaching issues of a similar kind. Nevertheless, George Washington's character was outstanding, and it is part of what led to his election as the commander in chief of all the continental forces on the 15th of 1775 (Hubbard, 2020). George had built his trust with his colleagues and the people he was set to lead, including the army. The fact that he was less tempered made him a leader of the distinction because hanger leads to inappropriate decisions of most modern leaders, which can be used as a weakness to the territories by their enemies (Petraeus, 2019). He also fought wars with a primary aim, that is, any war that George was involved he always had to make sure that it was a war for independence, and it was a must that he would take victory home no matter what. He always had in mind the idea that after the victory and the independence are achieved, he would establish a constitutional government and a republic. That shows that much of George's success was something he envisioned and knew what exactly he wanted with independence (Bowers, 2019). Most modern leaders fight to show their strength in terms of war power, which makes the maverick leaders more realistic in times of war strategies and the purposes of the war. 


Just like Maverick leaders, General Howell Petraeus’s strategies were noticed during his era of leadership. Petraeus was famous due to his counter-insurgency strategy. This strategy could influence the entire direction of the army's approach (Campbell, 2020) . It would effectively control policy change, directives and building consensus, among other factors such as resource allocation and organizational culture. Also, Maverick leaders were leaders and not followers, and they always sought counsel from their advisors. General Petraeus has similar characteristics and, considering the military's micromanagement today, and one needs to portray strong leadership qualities and be firm in their decision (Campbell, 2020) . Due to the complexity of leadership today, General Petraeus, however, prides itself on diplomacy. He was believed that leaders should not be leaders just because they need to; they should be ready to accept their mistakes and change their opinions and ways of thinking since people are not the same. He acknowledged that diverse people in different groups answer to varying leadership styles; hence, one should be ready to alter their approach. 

Additionally, similar to the Maverick leaders, he took leaps of faith that the majority of the people may not have agreed with. For instance, he implemented the "Shock and Awe" strategies of the Iraq war, which were Shermanesque in the commencement of the strategy or were viewed as such. Later in January 2007, during the start of the surge, President Bush had formed a new mandate which led to the deployment of over 30,000 soldiers into Iraq, most of them to Bagdad and 4,000 Marines o Anbar Province area, which established a unified democratic federal Iraq that was capable of defending, governing and sustaining itself. Most notably, during this war of terror, President Bush appointed Petraeus as the commanding General of the Multi-National Force-Iraq. General Petraeus was chosen to represent America due to his academic achievements and diplomatic skills, which made him think beyond force. This factor was similar to the Maverick leaders. 

General Petraeus was a great strategic leader, just like Washington. While General Petraeus was in charge of the Iraq surge in 2008, he engaged Iraq's elected leaders to decrease intra-Shiite fights between Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and al-Sadr. His counter-insurgency operations succeed in guarding and protecting Iraqi citizens, improving their abilities, and the continued growth of the Iraq Army and police forces ( Banister,2020) . The results were a reduction in violence and significant improvements. Such determination and commitment to help is similar to Maverick leaders who ensured that they do their best to succeed in wars. Although General Petraeus may not have been physically present in the Iraq surge, he came up with a successful strategy ( Banister,2020) . He claimed that the Iraq surge was the surge of ideas, the big ideas. To him, a good leader shaped big idea inclusively since one wants everybody to feel involved. Similarly, George Washington was an excellent strategic leader who was great at seeing the big picture and playing the long game. 

General Petrous embraced transformational leadership and was committed to serve his country at any cost. He had great mentors, and he intended to help young leaders without expecting them to pay back. He also tried to take his organization to the next level through his signature leadership moves. His commitment and drive to serve the country have made his critiques term him overly ambitious since he learnt to masterfully promote good ideas and organizational success, not necessarily himself. General Petraeus was willing to accept successes and setbacks and gave credit to his team members. For instance, he severally recognized his predecessor General Stanly’s efforts to use the right strategy in Afghanistan. Unlike most modern leaders, most of the maverick leaders were authoritative and some dictatorial. 

Leaders are required to act ethically following certain given moral parameters in the modern environment. They must also have effective leadership styles, which are vital in ensuring the success of other leaders and troops. Therefore, leaders should portray leadership skills that their forces can emulate, and their characters should be guided into success and General Petrous led by example. The Maverick leaders did not fear taking risks even when the risks had high possibilities of failing, and it is a characteristic that is essential in leadership. As a leader, one should be ready to step into a challenging situation for the sake of the people, and such undertaking brought an ethical dilemma on whether maverick leaders were good or bad. While focusing on the dilemma, it is necessary to understand the morality of warcraft has its own rules, especially during desperate circumstances, which may appear immoral to normal individuals. 


There are some aspects of the maverick leaders of the past that differ from the modern leaders. For instance, unlike the Maverick leaders in the past were considered unethical by their followers, which is mainly linked to certain personality traits such as social dominance orientation, narcissism and right-wing authoritarianism. On the contrary current military leaders must follow a specific procedure while in office and during the war. This has been made easier considering the different tactics used by modern leaders. The rules are especially useful during tactic implementation. Unlike Petraeus, Washington’s biggest weakness was as a tactician. Although his bravery was never questioned, he often put himself at risk on the front line. Additionally, he was not great at taking charge of battle planning, primarily when a fight unfolded, and he was also not good at directing troops. He was often behind schedule, especially on his tactical plan for a simultaneous three-prolonged river crossing. For instance, he once planned a night operation that is often high-risk despite the Army's night vision and communication equipment. 

With the rise of each new generation of communication and technology, the connection between soldiers on the battlefield and the leaders who give orders has grown distant. Past Maverick leaders would physically go to war, unlike the modern leaders( Austin& McKelvy, 2019) . They had unique and hardcore battle tactics that were essential for succeeding in their military operations. In the past Maverick leaders were professional war men with arms skills for their operations. They were heroes committed to warfare and impacted the world positively and negatively. General leaders no longer need to be on the front line with their men since they can now operate from command posts are far away thanks to technological advances ( Austin& McKelvy, 2019). Nonetheless, these technologies have created a trend of centralized command which has contributed to micromanagement. The generals in the past never have access to today's system, such as the Global Command and Control System; hence resorted to a more hands-on approach. However, the tactical generals such as General Petraeus overestimate how much they know about what happens on the battlefield. However, General Petraeus had proven during the Iraq surge and severally that resolved, proper planning, devotion to duty and diplomacy are more significant than being in the front line of a battlefield. 

In conclusion, maverick leaders are seen to have had more goal-oriented strategies. That means that they fought battles where they had a clear vision of what kind of change they wanted to make. That contrasts with most modern leaders, who fight to show how strong they are in terms of military strength or to achieve a specific objective to fulfil their personal interests. Petraeus was a resilient leader who, even though he did not go to the battlefields with his soldiers, laid down strategies that could help his army win the war. On the contrary, George Washington was a leader who also went into some battlefields with his army and fought with them as he impairments the strategies and tactics that he believed could help his army succeed. Petraeus was a strategist while George was a visionary which is one of the visible contrasts between these two leaders. However, the significant difference viable between these two leaders has been drastically influenced by the changes that have taken place in regards to technology. That is because modern leaders do not necessarily have to go to the battlefields; instead, they can supervise the war in the comfort of their offices. 


Austin, W. C., & McKelvy, S. D. (2019). The Reluctant Warrior: the Challenge to Instilling Law of War Values in Today’s Professional Warrior.  Studia Iuridica 82 , 29-52. 

Banister, J. (2020). Narrativizing the Surge: From Quagmire to Counterinsurgency in Iraq.  Western Journal of Communication 84 (5), 568-585. 

Bowers, T. A. (2019). The Life and Soul of an Army: Discipline and Professionalism in George Washington's Continental Army, 1775-1776 (Doctoral dissertation, The George Washington University). 

Campbell, P. (2020). Military Realism and Doctrinal Innovation in Kennedy's Army: A New Perspective on Military Innovation.  Journal of Global Security Studies 5 (4), 675-694. 

Hubbard, R. E. (2020). General Rufus Putnam: George Washington's Chief Military Engineer and the" Father of Ohio". McFarland. 

Petraeus, D. H. (2019). A Conversation with General (Ret.) David H. Petraeus. The Cyber Defense Review, 4(2), 15-20. 

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