Building and Managing a Team (Part 1)

Hal Moore on Leadership

In early 2021 in Hal Moore’s files, I found a detailed initial outline of what would later grow into the “Hal Moore on Leadership” book. This series of posts pulls from that outline – mostly short paragraphs or bullets.

For more detail, check out the book (click on the image to go to Amazon). The focus of Moore’s life after retirement from the military was on helping and mentoring others along the path to becoming great leaders. 

When taking over an organization you’ve got to stand out in front of your people, and state clearly and forcefully what your goal is; what you expect from them and what they can expect from you.  Then shut up and everybody go to work.

Tell a unit it’s good, it’ll be good. 

Tell a unit it’s good, it’ll be good. “We’re a good outfit! But we are going to get better.” Tell a unit it’s screwed up and it’ll be screwed up! Why? … because the boss says so.

Challenge yourself and others to be the best.

Challenge your unit to be better.  Expect from them what you expect from yourself.

Shortly after 9:00 a.m. on 29 June 1964 I was handed the colors of the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry.  Accepting the Colors (U.S. Flag and Regimental flag with Battalion and Campaign streamers from several wars) means that the Commander is now RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL HIS COMMAND DOES AND FAILS TO DO.  I then made a brief talk to the 36 officers and 729 enlisted men of my battalion standing in ranks before me on the Battalion Parade Ground on Kelly Hill.  “We are a good battalion but we’re going to get a lot better.  Our goal is to be the BEST Air Assault Infantry Battalion in the 11th Air Assault Division.  I will do my BEST.  I expect the same from each of you”.

Set rules and expectations

Be upfront about what you expect and how you plan to run the organization.  After taking over as the leader of an organization and setting your standards and general goal(s), you must quickly do a thorough “Estimate of the Situation” in your organization.  The purpose is to reveal problem areas, opportunities and areas of excellence.  Then set your rules and expectations to maintain and correct the situation.

Lead by example.

Be with your men when the metal meets the meat.  Commanders are not always leaders.  Commanders are appointed.  Leaders are unofficially “elected” by the troops in his unit – or unofficially “not elected”.  A leader must prove himself as such by his actions, appearance, demeanor, attitude, and decisions.

Be visible and accessible to the people you lead.

In the Army, the saying is “An outfit does well the things the boss checks up on.”  The leader at the top should consult with their intermediate supervisors and visit them frequently – on their turf – to learn more about what goes on down where the job gets done.  It will help them make better decisions in future planning, and in assuring better performance.

Reading List (links to Amazon)

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