Vital Questions for Leaders

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Vital Questions for Leaders

Dedication:  Special note from Bob:  69 years ago today, on June 6, 1944 – D-Day – 160,000 Allied Forces landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France.  Today’s post is dedicated to all those brave warriors, including my Dad, Arnett Tiede and my Father in law, Bob Faulkner.  We are eternally grateful for their service!

Guest Post by John (Barney) Barnes

General George S. Patton gave us many maximums for leaders.  One that has often saved my bacon, “We must always know exactly what we know and what we do not know”, reminds us of the critical nature of vital information.  Knowing what you do not know is often more important than knowing what you know.  Patton was known for his quip, “how do you know that?” This is a profoundly simple and effective method for sorting out opinion from fact.

The La Drang Valley lies in western Vietnam on the Cambodian border.  It was here that the 450 men of the 1st Infantry Battalion, 7th Calvary, were inserted by helicopter on November 14, 1965.  Over the next three days the first major battle of the Vietnam War would unfold in a 54-hour shootout.

This seminal event was later chronicled in the Hollywood movie, We Were Soldiers Once and Young, starring Mel Gibson playing the role of Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore, the 1st Battalion Commander.

Hal Moore, like Patton, was a leader who led from the front.  His men well knew that his boots would be the “first boots on the field of battle and the last boots to leave”.  As the last helicopter lifted away the 1st Battalion found themselves surrounded and coming under heavy fire by over 2000 North Vietnamese Regulars.  In the ensuing fierce battle over 1000 North Vietnamese and 79 Americans would be killed in action.  Outnumbered over 4:1, this was a kill ratio of over 12:1!

Leaders in most any profession can glean numerous nuggets from a variety of leadership qualities of Hal Moore.  One that I have gleaned is the three questions that he often asked himself during this intense battle that included a bayonet charge led by LTC Moore.  These questions are:

(1) What is not going on that should be?

(2) What is going on that should not be?

(3) What can I do to influence the situation?

Such Situational Analysis orSA” must be a part of every leader’s tool box.  As a leader, it is imperative for you to be able to confidently answer question (3) regarding the enterprise you are leading and responsible for.  However, as the leader, you must first find the answers to questions (1) and (2).

The next time you are about to make a “command decision” or about to write a “game changing” new policy  ask yourself…“Have I determined the answer to question (1) and question (2)?”  Perhaps you need to lead a bayonet charge of your own with your current resources in order to neutralize the opposition and lead your team to victory.  Please, no bayonet charges until question (1) and (2) are answered.  A bayonet charge at the wrong time, I’m told, could ruin your whole day.

Lastly, the leader must have trusted advisers who can assist them in answering all three questions.  King Solomon reminds us that “in an abundance of counselors there is victory”.

John (Barney) Barnes served over 24 years as a naval aviator including 507 combat missions with the elite Navy Seawolves in Vietnam.  He later served as a chief deputy sheriff and now shares his experiences in books, articles, and motivational speaking.   You can connect with Barnie on his website:  Born to be a Warrior

Special Note from Bob:  Barney thank you for you service to our country!  We are eternally grateful!

Which of your friends would thank you if you forwarded this post to them?

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