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Ulysses Grant’ Leadership Type


Ulysses S Grant was the 18th President of the United States. He was born in 1822 in Ohio and died in 1885. The alumnus of the United States Military Academy was a career soldier. Ulysses is mostly remembered for the role he played during the American Civil War (Gardner, 2013). He was highly passionate about working in the military and always remained committed to strong leadership as the foundation of the profession.

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He helped to promote the vision of the United States Military of being the finest in the world through his training programs as the commander. A good military leader should be a good example to others by doing the right things, showing courage, selfless service, and acting in an intelligent manner (Bennis, 2013).

Ulysses colleagues from the civil war held him in high esteem for how he managed to help them conquer their opponents. Ulysses continued to demonstrate his strong leadership skills when he became the President by pushing for the end of slavery, nationalism, and political rights of the African American community (Laver, 2013).

Ulysses was a visionary leader, as his foreign policy focused on improving the influence of America on the global market by fostering good relations with other powerful countries. Ulysses demonstrated his enduring ability as a leader during his tenure as the military commander and later as the President. During his tenure as the President, Ulysses went through several obstacles that tested his ability to endure tough and challenging times.

A good leader should be able to identify and deal with all obstacles that can limit success. They should listen to people, show empathy, persuade them, and have a future-oriented approach to decision-making (Bennis, 2013).

As the President, Ulysses had to deal with allegations of corruption, difficulties at the Republican Party due to reforms, and the panic of 1873 that affected the country’s economy. Ulysses was a true military leader who had the desire to win at all times, regardless of the complexity of a matter.


Various theories can apply effectively in describing the leadership style of Ulysses. However, the best that describes his approach to leadership is the trait theory. According to the theory, good leadership entails the application of certain inborn qualities that make an individual perfect for leadership (Tucker, 2009). These traits define the character and personality of an individual and help him or her to be a good leader.

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Few people have inborn qualities, which make them unique and stand them out from the rest as leaders. Ulysses S Grant left a rich legacy in the history of the United States. However, his character led many people to have a wrong interpretation of his leadership. Most of his peers described him as a rude, rough, and a modest army general who had a hard personality.

People who enjoyed close relations with Ulysses described him as a person who was shy, reserved and always had a forgiving outlook. He was also a man with far above the ground moral standards and knowledge compared to his peers. To be a successful military leader, one needs to change his or her style, depending on their level of authority and the number of followers (Bennis, 2013).

Military leadership also entails understanding the kind of psychological challenges that officers go through when they are working. Good leadership also entails involving people in decision-making and developing plans (Gardner, 2013).

Another personality trait that made people misinterpret the leadership of Ulysses was his silent nature. Most people mistook his silence for imbecility, although his peers from the civil war said he spoke when there was a need to do so (Tucker, 2009).

Ulysses used his inborn traits to succeed as a leader in the army. His silent nature helped him to lead the army during the civil war. His rivals and opponents did not have any information to use against him. Ulysses had a strict policy of ensuring that he talked when there was something important to say. He did not speak because there was a need to break a prolonged period of silence.

Ulysses was highly respected for the communication approach he used during the civil war as the army commander. He was always specific, comprehensive, and brief in his instructions. His communication style was also effective and made it easy for people to comprehend his guidelines (Laver, 2013).

Ulysses was also a strategic leader who applied his knowledge to help the United States reconstruct after the civil war. For example, Ulysses became the President of the United States at a very critical time, when the country was trying to recover from the aftermath of the war. During the civil war, President Lincoln had started a strategy that would help people to forgive each other and agree to work together as a nation.

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The strategy had numerous goals that included ending slavery and giving the African American community better treatment. However, President Lincoln could not spearhead the policy to fruition. When Ulysses took over the Presidency, he inherited the strategy but applied a different approach. Strategic leadership is also very important when it comes to meeting objectives and achieving success (Bolden, Gosling, Marturano, and Dennison, 2003).

Ulysses used military and federal legislation to protect African Americans. He advocated for an end to slavery as a way to stop human discrimination and inequality. From his military experience, Ulysses knew that people could not resist the authority of military officers (Laver, 2013).

He also used this strategy to increase the popularity of his party. Since the Republican Party was not popular in all the regions, Ulysses knew that the freed slaves would help strengthen the party if he gave them voting rights. Ulysses changed the fifteenth amendment that allowed all Americans to vote regardless of their race. Although certain people opposed the move, Ulysses passed various legislation that protected the voting rights of everyone.

This move by Ulysses marked a crucial moment in America’s long journey to achieving full democracy and human equality. Ulysses was commended by many people for the way he advocated for the enactment of future-oriented policies (Laver, 2013).

Various people criticized the leadership competencies of Ulysses on many occasions. The critics felt that as a leader, Ulysses made some good and some poor decisions that influenced his legacy to some degree (Sally, 2008). For example, he was criticized for his bad decision of using federal resources to increase the popularity of his party among the southerners.

The decision might have helped Ulysses to fulfill his objective, but certain individuals felt that he imposed things on them. Ulysses was also not doing enough to protect the African American community from oppression and discrimination. Although they had political rights, some critics felt that Ulysses was not doing enough to wipe out the issue of racism from the American culture (Sally, 2008).

Successful military leaders are those who understand the needs of the people and the best way to meet them. If Ulysses had the support of the southerners before imposing federal forces on them, he would have successfully helped to boost their economy through the development agendas of the Republican Party (Dorsey, 2008).

The experience of Ulysses during the civil war also shaped his style of leadership and the ability to endure hard times as a servant leader.

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Ulysses was a strategic leader who believed in his abilities to lead people towards achieving success. His leadership during the American Civil War endeared him to many people. His silent nature and immense knowledge of various areas helped him to bond with people. He was able to provide the right guidance in times such as the American Civil War.

Ulysses helped to bring change to the United States when he served as the army commander and the president. He helped to end slavery, racial discrimination, and helped in the provision of political rights to African Americans. However, as a leader, Ulysses needed to improve his decision-making, policy implementation strategies, and promotion of ethical practices. Ulysses S Grant should also have developed a more open-minded and inclusive approach to leadership.

The reason for that is that many people said he was not sociable, approachable, and easy to talk to as a leader. Ulysses was also a strategic leader who applied his knowledge to help the United States reconstruct after the civil war. When Ulysses took over the Presidency, he inherited the strategy but applied a different strategy to push for the attainment of all the goals.


Bennis, W. (2013). The Crucibles of Authentic Leadership. California: University of Southern California.

Bolden, R., Gosling, J., Marturano, A., and Dennison, P. (2003). A Review of Leadership Theory and Competency Frameworks. California: Center for Leadership Studies University of Exeter Cross Mead.

Gardner, J. W. (2013). The Anti Leadership Vaccine. New York: Cengage Learning.

Laver, H. S. (2013). A General Who Will Fight: The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant. New Jersey: Cambridge University Press.

Sally, R. M. (2008). Army Leadership Styles: Leadership Style-to-Army Branch Fit. California: Cengage Learning.

Tucker, S. (2009). U.S. Leadership in Wartime: Clashes, Controversy, and Compromise. New York: ABC-CLIO.

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