[March 11, 2018] Leadership is about solving problems. A common reason for leadership failure to solve problems can be traced back to unprepared leaders who are either too overconfident or they don’t care. Hal Moore addressed this in his latest book, Winning When Outgunned and Outmanned. He called it his Rule of Doubt.
“The troops can smell BS from a mile away.” – U.S. Army Lieutenant General Hal Moore
Hal Moore, like many leaders I’ve worked with closely, believes in gut instinct. If there is any doubt in a leader’s mind about what to do, then don’t do it. Action and words can backfire easily if a person doesn’t have a firm grasp of the situation (the culture, people, and organization).
The worse thing a leader can do (other than doing something illegally, immorally, or unethically) is to fake their way out of a situation. A good military friend of mine was to teach a class on the new Bradley Fighting Vehicle when the personnel carrier was initially fielded. He wasn’t knowledgeable about the new BFV but decided he could just bluster his way through the day. We were truly embarrassed for him as technical questions arose that only an amateur could not answer.
Usually, it’s the junior-most leaders who learned about trying to fake out their troops. Who doesn’t want to appear skilled and intelligent? That same pride that can motivate us, can also lead to serious problems and it rarely ends well.
Never try to deceive or fool the people under you. Not only is it wrong to do so but people seem to have a sixth-sense about it. Many will call you out. If it were only embarrassing, we could leave it at that. At issue when leaders have doubt is that many forge ahead into unknown territory. This puts themselves and their followers into a risky environment.
The Rule of Doubt is about is something every leader should have wired into their brain. By keeping this in mind, a leader and his followers will be better off.