An autobiographical leadership manual from a decorated Army general.
Readers will be familiar with the late, retired Lt. Gen. Hal Moore from his bestselling 1992 book, We Were Soldiers Once…and Young (and its excellent 2002 film adaptation). At the time of his death, he’d been working on a leadership guide distilled from his years commanding others in peacetime and at war; his children commissioned historian Guardia (American Guerrilla, 2015) to complete and polish the manuscript. The resulting short book is quintessential Moore: direct, blunt, uncompromising, and often wise. In it, he outlines basic principles of leadership (nothing radical—attention to detail, respect for colleagues, questioning of certainties, among others) and fleshes them out with ample personal anecdotes and engaging biographical segments that Guardia assembles from records of Moore’s life and service. The leadership axioms that pepper the book will be useful to readers in any kind of communal endeavor, although their crisp, no-nonsense flavor hints at their specifically military origins: “Respect your people,” Moore advises at one point. “Be loyal to them. Loyalty goes up AND down the chain of command”; “Stand up for principles,” he writes elsewhere, “choose the ‘harder right’ over the ‘easier wrong.’ ” Refreshingly, the author gives a good deal of attention to the behavior of leaders, including so-called “toxic” ones, for whom he clearly has little patience: “Contrary to popular belief, yelling at and berating your subordinates will not make them move faster nor will it inspire their loyalty,” he writes. “In fact, it may encourage them to begin plotting your demise.” Some precepts here may strike readers as a touch too military—some data analyst managers may not be willing to run four miles every morning before dawn, one suspects—but there’s also a consistent hint of understated humor throughout.
A tough, eminently practical guide from a man who spent his life leading others.