Leadership in Battle
Considered one of the top battlefield commanders in world history, Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore (US Army Retired) established his place in military history in 1965 when he led his vastly outnumbered troops to prevail in the first major battle of the Vietnam War. Both on the battlefield and off, he has spent his lifetime studying and encouraging strong, principled leadership as a soldier and a human being. A very good, short biography about General Moore can be found on the blog Command Posts.
The following video lays out Lt. Gen. Moore’s four main principles for a leader in battle. Although they are discussed in the context of battlefield leadership, one can easily apply these leadership principles to a corporate environment by slightly adjusting the circumstances to a team or workplace scenario. No matter if it is on a battlefield or in a corporate boardroom, leading a team to victory is the common goal.
Below are the four leadership principles for a leader’s conduct in battle, as discussed in the video:
1. Three strikes and you’re not out! There is always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor.
There are two things a leader can do:
- Contaminate his environment, and the unit, with his attitude and actions.
- He can inspire confidence.
A leader must be visible on the battlefield. He must be self-confident, with a positive attitude, and exhibit confidence under any set of circumstances. The determination to prevail must be felt by all, no matter what the odds or how desperate the situation. He must have and display the will to win by his actions, his words, the tone of his voice, his appearance, his demeanor, his countenance, and the look in his eyes. Instill the will to win. There can be no second-place trophies on display—awarded or accepted.
He must remain calm and cool; NO FEAR. He must ignore the noise, the dust, smoke, explosions, screams of the wounded, the yells, and the dead lying around him; that is all normal. He must not give off any hint or evidence that he is uncertain about a positive outcome; even in the most desperate of situations.
2. There’s always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor. And, after that, one more thing…and, after that, one more thing, etc., etc.
A leader must ask himself, “What am I doing that I should not be doing, and what am I not doing that I should be doing, to influence the situation in my favor?
3. A leader must always be ready! When there is nothing going wrong, there’s nothing going wrong except there is nothing going wrong. That is when a leader should be most alert.
4. Trust your instincts.
In critical, fast-moving battlefield situations, Instincts and intuition give you an immediate estimation of a situation. Your instincts are the product of your education, your reading, your personality, and your experience. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. When seconds count, instincts and decisiveness come into play. In quick, developing situations, the leader must act fast and part confidence to all around him; he must not second-guess the decision. MAKE IT HAPPEN!!! Face up to the facts, deal with them, and move on.
In addition, General Moore had a few more principles for military leaders to apply to their course of conduct:
- Everything in leadership boils down to judgment. Intelligence and good character does not imply you have good judgment.
- Study history and leadership qualities. Pay special attention to why leaders fail.
- A person in a position of authority does not automatically become immediately respected or trusted. This is earned.
- Every person in an organization is as important and necessary to a mission as the next person. That goes from the top to the bottom.
- Never deprive a person of their self-respect. NEVER!
- To do well in any field of endeavor, it is an advantage to work with good people.
- Strive to have one or two people around you who are totally trustworthy.
- Spend quality time with the team, learning who they are and what motivates them. Create a family.
- Great leaders learn to lead themselves first. Before you can lead others, leading yourself successfully must be accomplished day in and day out.
- Successful leaders create the future.
- Leaders must lead. Be the first boots on the ground and the last boots off.