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Moore’s Leadership Lessons

Lt. Col. Hal Moore

Lt. Gen. Harold Moore presents an excellent chapter on the leadership lessons he learned in war and peace time. Here is an outline of Moore’s writing in Chapter 11 of “We Are Soldiers Still.”

Trust your instincts: how Moore got into West Point:

  • Trust your instincts: products of your personality, experience, background, observations; when time permits use both intuition and analysis tempered by time to think.
    • If there’s doubt in your mind, there’s no doubt at all – the answer is “no.”
    • Never say no to yourself; make the other guy say “no.”
  • Never quit
  • There’s always one more thing you can do to influence a situation in your favor.
    • Stack the deck by learning entry requirements and memorizing the right answer.
    • Questions to ask:
      • What am I not doing that I should be doing to influence the situation in my favor?
      • What am I doing that I should not be doing?

What a leader gets paid to do:

  • Get the job done and get it done well.
    • Have clearly defined goals and a clear understanding of what it takes to achieve those goals.
    • Remain open and give thought to as many factors as possible.
    • Tell and retell people what are the goals and what their roles are to attain the goals.
  • Plan ahead – be proactive and create the future.
    • The plan must be workable with a system of progress measurements.
    • Subordinates must understand the goal, the plan, and their roles in execution.
    • Think through the positive and negative what-ifs and how they will be handled, especially the negative ones.
    • Look for windows of opportunities.
    • Creating the future: look for trends, practice vision, inspire yourself and your team, monitor work done and keep up the momentum.
  • Exercise good, sound judgment.
    • Put power and decision making authority down.
    • Manage to work towards the future – risk making the new happen.
    • Personal conduct (Gen. Colin Powell)
      • Be dead honest and totally candid up, down and around.
      • Total loyalty up, down and around.
      • Correct people in private, praise in public – never harm pride and self-respect.
      • Treat everyone fair and square without favorites; give the toughest jobs to the best and mentor them.
      • Stay away from headquarters unless summoned: no good comes from wandering corridors of power.
      • Praise the team that receive the power and decision making authority give to them.
      • Good leaders don’t wait for official permission to try new ideas; in an organization you will always find a person who will say “no.”
      • The leader in the field is always right and the rear echelon wrong until proved otherwise; shift power and accountability to those who need it, not those who analyze it.
    • The Key Ingredient: People are the most important part of the organization –leadership is an art, while management is a science.
      • Leadership is about getting people to do what you want them to do, which demands that you care deeply about those you are leading.
        • Care about their training, quality of lives, today’s and tomorrow’s.
        • Love people who stand with you in pursuit of success – put their care and comfort ahead of yours in all matters; loyalty flows out first before flowing back

Teamwork and motivation:

  • Discipline and Confidence: Harnessing discipline
    • Self-discipline leads to self-confidence.
    • Disciplined use of technology (know how) creates confidence in tools.
    • Disciplined leaders create and foster confidence and trust in themselves and subordinates.
    • Team discipline leads to team confidence.

Character vs. Judgment in Good Leadership

  • Judgment is the key ingredient to Good Leadership.
    • Character is adherence to a code of ethics, integrity, honesty, mental strength and toughness.
    • A leader with good judgment already has character and integrity.
      • A leader can have character and integrity and still exercise bad judgment because of incompetence, wrong information, stress, tired mind, poor advice, ignoring good advice, poor analysis pushes a good leader into a bad judgment.
      • Example: Robert E. Lee: a man of character and integrity who exercise poor judgment at Gettysburg
  • Good Judgment Practices
    • Have a trusted confidant: Lee had one, Gen. Longstreet, and he ignored Longstreet’s advice against Pickett’s Charge.
    • When there’s nothing going wrong, there’s nothing wrong except that nothing’s wrong.
    • When put in a leadership position:
      • First duty is to visit the people on your team and let them see you.
      • Briefly state your vision and goals and know your primary policies and intentions.
      • Practice active listening and sniff the air.
      • Look for the weakest team, and start there, because you had the most opportunity to practice leadership.
      • Recognize connectedness of the problem without acting as if the entire organization is rotten.
      • Tell a substandard unit what is right and what is wrong – not that the unit is screwed up.
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