LTG. Hal Moore
August 1, 2009
A Top 100 General
How did you react when you were selected one of the top 100 generals
in the history of the world?
I was shockingly surprised and – at the same time – felt humbled. I just
have to let it go as another tribute to my troopers. I know the truth about
who wins battles--- the troops down in the ranks.
Please speak to honor.
It is a word, above all others, much like the word “love.” When the word
“honor” is expressed in any form, the room changes – there is purity about
it. I almost feel like silence should be the norm after it is expressed. “Your
honor – it is an honor to be with you – we honor you – and so on.” It is an
“honor” for me to have this forum to share my thoughts on learning and
pursuing the practice of principled leadership.
Achievements Of The Led
Is there any way one should judge what kind of leader they are?
With me, I have always considered “achievements of the led” to be a most
important measuring tool. It never was about rank with me. Wherever I
was, I wanted my troopers to achieve their potential.
Acts of Kindness
Is there an unusual measuring stick in your seeing leaders exhibiting
I am always taken with unplanned moments that invite acts of kindness.
Those acts are far more telling and trusting than we know.
Always A Leader Present
Does every unit or company always have a leader?
Yes. Whether it‟s a herd of wild horses with a lead stallion, a pack of
wolves, a hive of honeybees, and a group of humans in the first grade or the
senior citizens home – there‟s always a leader.
What is the source of your strength of spirit to persevere and prevail?
Each of us relies upon something to build our life into the best life possible.
Every source of strength used by all is as different as we are different.
What works for one may not work for another. With this said, each would
answer your question differently and in that I respect. For me, I have an
unwavering faith in life hereafter my time on earth. I have constantly lived
aware of the words in the “Lord‟s Prayer” – “I believe … in the
communion of saints, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting …
There appears to be a different set of standards you use in leadership
than most. Is this true?
No, I doubt that to be true. We each find our own “anchor bolts” for daily
purpose in leading others. As for me, I will say that being there for others in
time of need at the time of adversity is an anchor bolt for me. Others are:
remaining there at the time of adversity – being constant when things are
changing – being firm when things are lax – being true when things are
dishonest – and being steady when things are shaky. I can think of more
than one situation where that anchor bolt model enabled me to serve
another and my having been served equally so.
Are leaders appreciated for the most part?
Universal appreciation doesn‟t always follow great leadership. It comes
with the territory.
Gen. Moore, please share your thoughts on leaders being
"This is important to do, but difficult to be! As a leader moves up, his or
her manner and door seems to slowly shut. The closer one gets to the top,
the less approachable they can become. When in fact, the opposite should
be the case. The higher the advancement, the more available one should be
- in a structured way that encourages anyone. The open door policy is
usually shut to those down in the ranks and it impacts one's leadership. By
the way, an open door does not automatically imply open arms and a warm
reception. Receiving others is a critical art in leadership!
What concerns you most about leaders?
Arrogance! Arrogance is very revealing. It indicates more of a lack of
power than having power. Leaders can become overly impressed with
themselves. They can assume authority they should not. It is an easy trap!
They stop learning and listening. Arrogance does not recognize the small,
important things around a leader to make critical adjustments and
decisions. Arrogance lives alone, although it can be surrounded by many. It
needs others to survive or it would have no one to be arrogant with. The
higher one goes in life, the more one has to be on constant watch to remain
Balancing Soul and Structure
Many of your superiors rated you “beyond reproach” in terms of moral
fiber your entire career. What do you think they meant and how did
you receive it?
This delicate question deserves a delicate response. We all have backbones
from which our physical being is structured around and upon. We all have
souls from which our spiritual being expresses itself. The more one‟s
backbone represents one‟s soul in daily life, there is a balance that is
produced and becomes evident in one‟s life. Perhaps what a superior felt in
me was a balance between the two, and if there was a tough decision to
make, my soul seemed to, more often than not, win out over by backbone.
And for a soldier, it is not easy. In fact, for all leaders, it is not easy. If
more of us led others by our soul rather than backbone, we might be better
equipped to deal with our world and humanitarian issues. When the
backbone leads, the soul may be left behind. When the soul leads, the only
way it can lead is through the backbone. Soul first. Backbone second and
Being A Difference
What is the difference between making a difference as a leader and
being a difference?
Leaders “make” a difference by” being” a difference. The lives of others
are affected for the good in a way that never happens if a leader were not
Being A Visionary
Are you a visionary and is such important in leadership?
It was always clear with my charge where we were going, how we were
going to get there – and that I would lead. Vision sets the table, the
objective, and the end goal. Visionaries create the future and I believe I was
one. I am still one.
Leaders are unique and often one of a kind. Are some leaders
Every leader can be replaced with another – and often with one who is
better than the super-star being replaced. When a leader begins to think
that they are and act as though they are irreplaceable, that is the time to
replace them. There is a fine line in being self-confident and crossing the
line with respect to one‟s self-importance. There is always someone out
there better than you – than me. That is a great fact of life.
What counsel would you give to leaders of others?
Be seen. Do not hide. Do not cloister yourself in an office. Walk the line.
Any thoughts on body language and leadership?
Study the way one uses his or her body in important moments. Open and
direct tells me much. Closed and apprehensive body language tells me
Are leaders born to be leaders?
I think not. Some appear “born leaders” however. There is a difference.
Leaders learn, and learn, and learn from others and from their experience.
When it is said of one, that he or she is a born leader, I think at what period
of their life did they become so. I think it was said of me. If it were so,
perhaps it was only true of me far into my adult years. For most of my
early life, I followed others. One has to know how to follow another before
he or she can lead others.
How influential are the best leaders?
There is normally a powerful network and influence that the best leaders
take with them wherever they may go. They do not depend on other
influences to lead. They know what it takes to win - with or without
influences from others. What they do with what they have is that they are
always working on broadening their influence for the good of others.
Brooding, Cynical, Sour
What makes a leader in terms of his or her spirit?
I know what does not make a leader – one who broods, who is cynical and
sour. There is no room at the top for such a spirit. What makes a leader is
another book – just kidding!
Off the battlefields, how does a corporate culture build a unified family
of fighters – the will to win?
The answer I believe lies in building teamwork. The leader must live, eat
and be willing to sacrifice self for the TEAM.
Leadership is a tough and demanding business. The stress, pressure,
and burn out are real. How is it that you never seem to have burned
Leaders need to plan and work at being recharged. There are people and
places where recharging is most suitable for every leader. Mental rest is
extremely important and going there a week or two once a year may be
helpful, but a leader‟s life should have weekly balance in “charging and
recharging” ahead. As for me, I have had my own ways of recharging, like
climbing mountains or running, or finding places of solitude. Sitting on a
downed log in the woods gets me going every time. One more thing, I have
never heard of “burn out” when one is doing exactly what they are suited to
do with their lives! It is when one is not doing what they are meant to do
that one can become burned out quickly. Also, “burn out” can be dealt
with by regular physical exercise.
But I Would Know
Do you read eyes and how important is that in leadership?
I discovered I could see in others‟ eyes what they were thinking – it‟s an
instinctive flash, never lingers, a quick instinctive understanding. Then the
flash of their eyes would be gone, but I would know.
Any advice for leaders and risk?
Do not accept very much risk that‟s out of your control. The brain
calculates risk in a different more important way. Not analysis. Intuition!
The feeling in your bones. Get tuned into that voice. A processing of subtle
cues. Not cognitive. There are certain defining moments in one‟s life when
you must risk it all. My defining moment was November 14, 1965.
In leading your family, was there anything unusual about your
We all have ways to lead within our families. One thing that happened after
my father died was I made an effort to find ways for us to have fun when we
were together, rather than grieve. My sister started calling me “Captain
Fun.” That stuck with me into my years with my children and the nickname
seemed to be a favorite. I actually would send notes to them signed by
Change Is Normal
How do leaders smell change in advance of change?
It doesn‟t come from reports, as that is often too late. He or she knows that
change is normal. They live every day flexible and ready for change. They
read the small signals of what their discipline and vision tell them in
various situations. For great leaders, change is expected and seized as
moments for opportunity. The indicators for change are not usually visible.
Change Of Mind
Do you believe that leaders are willing to change their mind?
I can only speak for me. If the change of mind is good for the led - yes.
What was your actual class standing at West Point and did that ever
come into play in your leadership after graduation?
I finished 641 out of 852 graduates. All of us would like to be at the top and
I was no different. But I was not and had to deal with it. I had to put it
behind me, and focus on those things that I did reasonably well.
Fortunately, I was never measured after that based upon class standing and
those above me were astute enough to see the good that I could achieve.
You had a reputation of going into a coma-like state in the middle of
crisis for a few seconds. What was that all about?
All leaders find a way to best deal with crisis - being under fire. My way
was silence and advancing after the calm. Leaders should know that
responses and decisions are best followed in calm and confidence.
How does a leader keep followers committed?
Only practices well learned and fully internalized hold followers for the
long pull. Help followers become engaged.
What are you thoughts about committees and their role in leadership?
I have always taken advantage of the “cross-learning” that takes place in
committee work. Experienced judgment can come from committee work.
There is an important place for them. A word of caution – do not let
committee work be a substitute for timely decision-making.
Have you lived a life of leadership with others that encouraged
I was taught many years ago to discuss two things with another when we
were both on the line for mutually beneficial results. What can you expect
from me? What can I expect from you?
Controlling things, people and events seems to be a common fact of life
for many. Do leaders handle “control” better or differently than
This matter of control is the worst enemy to great leadership. The more a
leader needs to control, the less effective he or she becomes. We are
surrounded by control addicts who cannot control enough. When in fact,
the more a leader gives up control by powering down, the more effective
they become as leaders. Giving up control is a very mature leadership
action and serves well when leading others. What has always been true is
that this maturity is reflected in other leadership actions and the sum of the
total spells success.
Cost of Leadership
What is the cost of leadership?
Leadership is expensive. There is a price to pay in leading others. Many
are unwilling to pay the price. Sacrifice is the name of the game.
Is creativity important in leading others?
A high level of respect for creativity is very important. If the leader is not
creative, there need to be ways for creativity to emerge, and not kept at bay.
There is always a better way to get better!
If you had the opportunity to spend some time with a leader from long
ago, who would it be and why?
Custer! He failed and I would like to go back over his every decision and
learn directly from him what he would do differently. Who knows – possibly
I shall in a later life.
What recommendations do you have for leaders and the use of their
Be careful. The tongue can be a very dangerous weapon. Most of us use it
too frequently and without enough thought before it is too late. It can be a
great relationship builder for all leaders. Be very careful.
Dealing With Failure
How did you deal with failure?
I finally realized that some things can‟t be fixed, and I learned how to
survive that. When I made a mistake I faced up to the facts and dealt with
Do real leaders believe in themselves over and above others?
Real leaders believe that he or she can do anything within their authority
Doing This Together
What pleases you most about this leadership book?
It started with Julie, her ideas and help. This pleases me more than one can
know. We are doing this together. I feel especially close to her through this
With respect to leadership “easy traps” as you define it, would you
elaborate? What are easy traps for leaders?
The better leaders do a better job of avoiding easy traps than non-leaders
do. Leaders assess and filter quickly and accurately as to whether he or she
should or should not allow him or herself to fall into an easy trap. What
are the easy traps? That depends on the person. a) Letting success go to
one‟s head. b) Believing financial success is the end all. c) Thinking one‟s
press clippings are true. d) Moving away from those relationships that
helped you become successful – starting with one‟s spouse, the true friends,
etc. Addictions are what they are – an escape from the real world and are
easy traps that can destroy a leader and family. Having access to
everything in this world is not a good thing, if that easy trap calls a leader‟s
name. The higher one climbs as a leader, the more he or she had better be
on guard to protect what is right and just.
Has empathy been an often-used leadership tool for you in life? How
important is it?
I would hope so. However, there are times when one would like to act on
the urge to put others “in their place”. Leaders need to put themselves in
their place instead.
What role does encouragement play in leadership?
It is the most powerful, sustaining tool in leading others that I can speak to.
I am an example of having been encouraged every period of my life.
Encouragement is oxygen for the soul, for it moves one upward and forward
into an undefeated rarified air.
Esprit de Corps
You are on record for being strongly supportive of heritage, history
and tradition. You gave a speech in 1984 on that subject to the 1st
Cavalry Division in El Paso. Why is that so important to you as a
I have a strong belief that parades, ceremonies, traditions and heritage are
excellent means of building team Esprit de Corps; and individual and unit
morale. To know your past and to celebrate it in smart ways is key to
building the future and teamwork. There is little greater than carrying on
the greatness of past tradition.
Can false leaders rise to the top?
True leaders usually weed out false leaders before they rise to the top.
False leaders usually weed themselves out in crisis.
Do leaders really know themselves?
Most do. Some fake themselves out! They think they are one thing, when in
fact they are another. Leaders can make the fatal mistake and believe they
have arrived and no longer become “teachable.” I went to Harvard for
additional graduate work. I did not come out knowing more, as much as I
wanted to learn more. Leaders must be in a “learning mode.” One learns
– not when they are hearers only, but when they become responsive to what
they hear. The truth is that leaders must work harder to learn as they
become successful. Successful leaders do not and will not know it all. The
key word to actual learning is “responsiveness.”
Feet - The Feet
As a leader, what can you offer in the way of leader sensitivity to the
people that can impact the bottom line?
In the Infantry, we were always conscious of the condition of a soldier‟s feet
- the feet. Take care of a soldier‟s feet, and you take care of him and are
more likely to achieve your objective. Leaders most know what he or she
must always be conscious of for his or her people. It could be an unusual
condition that might appear insignificant but is not. Every business has
some aspect to it that warrants a leader always being conscious of for the
First Boots, Last Boots
Your boots have become a symbolic part of leadership with you. Care
to explain why?
To lead, one has to lead. Be the first into a situation and be the last one
out. In my life‟s work, boots represent leadership of self and others. Please
do not see this as my style only. All soldiers would do the same for their
Food and Leadership
Does food play a role in leadership?
Without question food is a most powerful leadership tool when shared with
others – best friends, higher ranking persons, underlings, family, etc. In
business, sharing food is more powerful than all the board meetings on
Wall Street. There are dynamics taking place around a table of breaking
bread that cannot be duplicated elsewhere. One‟s mindset changes without
plan and one‟s focus on another is more authentic. Plans drawn on napkins
between two or more persons sharing food should go immediately to the
boardroom for discussion!!!
Freedom Of the Press
What about leadership and the press?
Thank God we have freedom of the press. I have always been an advocate
for such and I believe my actions indicate that. The press can be tough.
But openness is the key. I believe that leaders should always speak with the
press at their role level or below. One should never speak to the press
about higher levels within their company. Speak to what you know about
and be open.
Do the best leaders think about getting even?
Sure they do, but the best leaders do not go there. They do not repay insult
with insult. They remain quiet in their leadership. They do not lead to get
Would you have answered many of these questions the same if they had
been asked in 1977 when you retired as a three-star?
Yes, but I have really gotten “smart” with age. In the past 32 years I have
learned far more than I would have believed. One never stops learning.
Giving and Receiving
What have you found in leaders giving and receiving?
Most leaders have greater capacities to give and to receive. It is hard to
give and it is often harder to receive. Leaders should lead with open arms
Where does good judgment come from in a leader?
It comes from self-confidence, and there is a close connection between
discipline and confidence.
Do leader’s have a tendency to participate in gossip?
They should participate – yes. Their participation had better be to have the
moral strength to stop and defend – stop the gossip and defend the person
being gossiped about.
A national non-profit, The National Alliance for Public Trust, was
established with you as founder. What does this mean to you?
Perhaps something in my life may be helpful to those long after I go out of
the game. This has great importance for leadership and a just and
principled America – something I have lived and fought for all of my life.
How do some leaders handle high responsibility better than others?
They have mental libraries of various problems, and how they handled them
in the past – the good and the bad. Good leaders draw on their library of
experience and evaluate how they handled each problem.
Are leaders happy for the most part? Do they live happy lives? Have
you been happy in your life?
That is the wrong question for me because I have never truly considered
that question. That was never important to me. Have I felt loved all of my
life? Yes! Have I felt unique gifts given and used in my life? Yes! Have I
lived my life to the fullest? Yes! With respect to happiness, I have always
been uncomfortable with how and why so many people and leaders work
toward that unreachable place in life. However it is defined by another, it
is so fleeting and temporary based upon the moment. Ask me today if I feel
loved, you will see a smile on my face, my heart will jump and I will give
you a resounding YES!
What are the hardest things in lif e for leaders to handle?
One is failure and the other is success. I believe leaders better deal with
failure as there is a bounce back purpose that can vault a leader back into
the winner‟s circle. But success, that is a tough one. Success seems to be
the Achilles Heel of leaders and the hardest thing to deal with.
Have A Dream
Are you a dreamer?
I have always been a dreamer. You‟ve got to have a dream in this life to
move towards or you‟re dead in the water. And, once you realize that
dream, accomplish that goal – get another! We must all have courage to
embrace our dreams, strength to sacrifice for them and determination to
How do you feel about leaders having mentors?
A must. I had never heard of mentoring in my early years. But I realized
that my very first mentor was my Platoon Sergeant in “E” Co 187. He
taught me so much. I also believed that mentors below a leader, one who
knows the ropes, is very smart.
Head For The Fight
How do you feel about leaders tackling problems?
The best leaders head for the fight! The toughest issues.
You are known to have been a great trainer of leaders. What can you
share that can be helpful to others who train leaders?
When training others to lead, I have found that the “how-to” lead can be
taught. What cannot be taught is the “heart-to” lead. One can learn every
aspect of every task, but if the heart to lead is lacking, one can only get by
with the “how to” for so long and then it will catch up with them. The
“heart-to” lead eventually surfaces in unplanned ways and it is then when a
leader emerges. In training others, it is important to know those who have
both. The heart of a leader is beyond what can be taught through training.
That falls under the responsibility of a Higher Power.
What have you noticed the most from great leaders?
They know how to adjust, how to learn, and how to deal with failure.
Do you have any thoughts about leaders expressing the words “I’m
sorry” to others?
Saying “I‟m sorry” is a cleansing that works internally and externally.
Equally important is the timing of saying “I‟m sorry.” It is better said as
soon as possible, but it is never too late to do so. There is something very
strengthening when one apologizes as a leader, and very weakening when
When building a close inner circle, what should a leader consider?
Consider who will most appreciate being chosen. The mere fact that one
has all the expertise to be within a certain circle does not mean that they
really appreciate being there. Being chosen by anyone for anything is a
special privilege. If one accepts, never forget that you were chosen.
How does one who does not have anyone to lead, lead?
A person who does not lead others still has to lead himself along with an
obligation to contribute, to develop his or her existing leadership potential,
and to work in sync with others. The entire group – the team, the business
In The Heart
What does the word “leadership” mean to you?
It takes at least two – one willing to teach, train, and care, and one willing
to learn, train and care. Leaders are in a constant state of both – the
student and teacher – every day of his or her life. I have learned much from
my children in the same moment I am teaching them. Leadership means an
understanding of human beings and always being willing to serve each and
every person brought into your day or life. Leadership is best when it
begins in the heart and is not necessarily something learned in a book from
an old soldier.
It Lies Within
Is there a secret to great leadership?
Yes. It lies within each of us – our moral compass. Read it! Follow it! Do
not allow shallow reasoning for personal gain to rule
It’s About Time
Women are emerging as leaders around the world today. Any
It‟s about time! Leadership was never about gender. In fact, I not only
married a leader, I married one heck of a leader. I learned more from Julie
than I did from many of my superiors. She knew how to lead, and I was
smart enough to stay out of her way and listen to her guidance.
Joy In Facing Fear
How have you dealt with fear in your life as a leader?
As a leader, much of what I believe is not new and was probably picked up
from another. But with respect to fear, I have personally always faced it
head on. There is a joy in facing fear that is difficult to express. One
becomes hyper aware of everything around you. Time seems to be in slow
motion. No sense of fear or panic. Intense focus on the task at hand. You
feel unhurried. Your brain expands. Senses open up. The higher brain is
at full speed. I recall learning somewhere about the “mother of safety” –
where one‟s mind and body adapt knowing the difference between life-
enhancing excitement and primitive demise. Remember --- fear quivers;
fear says “later;” fear is defeat; fear tears us down; fear is a thief; fear
retreats. There is little about fear that I believe works in leadership.
Emerson said, “Do the things you are afraid to do.” You will grow
stronger. Face up to your fears. We all have them.
How did you continue to lead effectively all those years?
A key advisor was important at every level.
Knowing The Difference
What is the rubber ball vs. glass ball leadership lesson?
Rubber balls bounce back, but glass balls break. One can overcome
dropping rubber balls in one‟s career, but dropping glass balls can kill a
career. A leader needs to be certain that they know the difference.
Knowing Whom To Follow
Is good leadership contagious?
Yes! I knew who to follow and learn from - hoping some of it would rub off
Lead By Example
Regarding leadership, what advice would you give the President in
leading our nation at this time?
The President has plenty of great minds and leaders surrounding him. But,
if we were having a cup of coffee overlooking the Hudson River at West
Point with time for reflection, I would say --- stay calm. Be disciplined.
Stay focused on family. Listen, Listen, Listen - and reflect carefully on the
counsel from others. Don‟t look back once a decision has been made. Talk
to and most importantly – listen to your God. Pray for guidance. Hug your
wife and children every chance you get. Lead with the people, not above
them – stay out front. The world is smaller than ever - the President and
America should be the global home of peace and hope… bullies never win
in the long run. He should carry the big stick, but be very careful when –
and only then – to use it. Our nation‟s future is in the best hands of those
who are willing to dialogue and come together regardless of our
differences. Reconcile with those we are at odds with – and advance with
them at our side. Incorporate non-business, family togetherness, solitude
and silence into his daily life. Our president should lead by example! He is
my president. I have always believed in E Pluribus Unum – out of many,
one. This should be his goal, for it was our Founding Father‟s goal.
It seems most successful leaders know when and what to do. Any
Successful leaders know when to show up. Successful leaders know when to
stand up. Successful leaders know when to speak up. The most important of
the three is often showing up and the next two follow only if appropriate.
Leaders should not get these out of order.
Leaders Are Different
Are leaders alike in any way?
No. Every leader is different. Do not type or profile a leader. He or she
will stand out to you when they and you are ready.
Learning From Others
This leadership work includes a personal highly structured and
detailed efficiency reporting system and speaks to your career growth.
Why did you allow this to be available?
The best learning for me has been to learn from others – their stories, their
successes, their failures. This is part of my story. I did not suggest to others
that this be included. It was asked of me. After I listened as to why, I
reluctantly agreed. If it helps one person become a better leader, that is
good enough for me.
When do leaders begin to stop climbing and level out?
Great leaders do not hit a plateau! They do however find their niche and
Life I Once Knew
Your home place is a “mini-museum and library.” What do you think
of today when you see the helmets, bugle, boots, Hollywood stuff, etc?
It is a reminder of a life I once knew. I had my chances, took risks, and
survived it all. I sometimes wonder if that was really I, or is it a fantasy?
When that happens, my body tells me it was the truth. Bodies don‟t lie.
Any thoughts on learning leadership?
It is a daily life long pursuit. Each day one must begin again. One cannot
assume that because one learned to be a better leader the day before, he or
she can stop reading about and practicing good leadership.
How have you dealt with limitations and what should leaders consider
in this regard?
We all have limitations. I have spent my life being sure that those
limitations are not on the line and that I have upgraded those areas to not
be a drain on my life‟s work. The key is focusing on those areas that are
gifts and taking those to the limit. I have spent my life using those few gifts
Yes. It is the little things that others pick up from a leader and interpret the
little things in ways that can be incorrect.
Looking back on your life, any thoughts?
Reflecting on the past is smart. I do look back on occasion, on decisions of
the past. Focusing on the past is not smart. I never look back as a point of it
being all-consuming, I just look ahead!
Looking For Leaders
What do you look for in great leaders?
“Dead honesty” with self and others and the ability to create the future.
How do leaders deal with losing – being a good loser?
If a leader thinks they might lose – he or she has already lost. With all due
respect, I might not be the best person to answer this question.
Lost & Found
Not all great leaders became that way winning all the time. Many have
lost along the way. How about you?
Knowing what has been lost enables one to know what can be found.
Leaders have a way of getting back what they have lost in their lives and
recovering from having been lost at times. I can honestly say that what I
have valued most and lost cannot be replaced or found – my precious men
and wife. I have felt lost since my wife‟s death, but am working to find
myself until the end.
Loved By So Many
You visit the Ft. Benning cemetery often. When you leave, what do you
I think how short life is, and how all of our human bodies will be in a
cemetery soon enough. When my body is there, I, my spirit and eventually
my body will be with my family. When I leave, I am filled with love – for I
have been loved by so many who have gone before me.
You have had many superiors in your life. How does one serve a bad
boss with loyalty?
If you cannot loyally follow your boss on an issue, face up to him or her,
tell them so, and try to ride it out. Things may change. If not, resign.
The battle, LZXRAY in Vietnam, is featured in the National Infantry
Museum with other great battles since 1776. What do you think when
you walk through the exhibit today?
It takes me back and reminds me just how great America is because of the
necessary role the military has played. It is a real representation of history
portrayed through exciting exhibits. This is a masterpiece for all to enjoy.
As I have looked at that exhibit. I am profoundly saddened and yet again I
see, in my memories‟ eyes, those great, dead American soldiers lying on
that ground, and realize yet again, with grief, that terrible telegram which
tore and ripped the lives of their families back in America.
Messenger of Hope
How important is it that leaders lead with hope?
Leaders must, above all else, be messengers of hope. They must believe and
act that the best is yet to come. A leader shall know as they are known.
They shall see things clearly but must always believe and be hopeful that
today will be better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today. Hope
drives each of us, and it us who impact an environments future. Hope in
leadership wins when little else can or does. I have been there and it was
hope that won battles when we were outnumbered.
Mind and Muscle
You speak often of trying to catch up on your sleep missed years ago. In
leadership, how many hours did you have to learn to stay awake at one
time? How do you account for being able to do this?
I could go about 55-60 hours without sleep when I was at my best. But for
anyone to be able to stay awake and be productive in any environment for
long periods of time, it requires a litany of events. I have been in such a
place where I had to translate English to English! The human body is a
magnificent combination of mind and muscles. But the environment is not
quiet. The leader must think through every word spoken when tired before
he says it. There is a lesson here for all leaders and in their knowing their
How have you viewed momentum in your life as a leader and what
might you share with others about its importance?
I cannot emphasize momentum enough. It takes a well-oiled machine and
hard work to build momentum. However, it can be lost in a day and
perhaps never be regained to where it once was. It is a not so silent “6th
man.” The benefits are valuable and riding the wave of momentum can
take a business to heights previously only dreamed about. There is nothing
like momentum on the rise and working as a team. A leader must see it
coming and nurture and guide it as it occurs. Likewise, before it slows
down, a leader must plan ahead to ensure that it is not lost quickly. I have
lived with both extremes, and I can tell you it is a powerful tool to success.
How should a leader motivate others?
I believe in recognizing, giving credit, promoting and rewarding!
Motivating the least of them requires extra attention given to recognition,
credit, assessment, and specific plans for improvement or termination.
When should leaders consider moving on?
This is a hard one. Many leaders stay too long. This is a problem. Fresh
leadership with something new works very well in many environments. I
recommend moving on sooner than later. You‟ve heard of “overstaying
your welcome.” Well it happens in the workplace. The next move awaits
the best leaders.
Mustard Seed Theory
What is the leadership mustard seed theory?
Leaders should be planting mustard seeds. Most seeds will die. The few
that see the light of day should be examined. The very few that strongly and
forcefully rear their heads in the most unlikely of places, without cultivation
and nourishment, could very well be the next world power, great
corporation or leader of his or her time.
My Own Ideas
In your life, you have had many new assignments. Is there a process
you have found that works to best understand what you have, or do not
A thorough on- the- ground inspection of the situation is required. Find the
current problems, areas of opportunity for improvement and the areas of
excellence. I also had my own ideas on things I liked to emphasize or
introduce into actions. This process should be thorough and quick, because
all eyes are on you, and they are waiting for the word, plan or action.
What is the leadership value of knowing the story of another and will
you share your story and certain periods of your life?
One‟s story is a powerful learning tool for others – no matter the story.
There is so much to learn from others in this way. I learned this most
recently from a dear friend in Colorado. Based upon this, I am willing to
share my story, if it is of interest to others. If not, just skip the boring stuff.
It will be placed at the end of this book representing periods and events in
Never Too Late
If one were out there who believes it is too late to become a leader, what
would you tell them?
It is never too late – never, never, never. There is one thing in everyone that
is unique to who they are – start there!
No Doubt At All
Have you ever lived with doubt?
Interesting question. I learned early as a cadet at West Point that if there‟s
a doubt in your mind, there‟s no doubt at all. I have used that all my life.
The Catholic priest, Father Murdock, taught me this.
How should a leader deal with opposition?
It will come. Be ready. Have a plan. Always treat the opposition with
respect and listen. They just may be right.
You have had fame and acclaim, but yet handle it with humility. How?
I disagree with the fame and acclaim part, but if I handle my life with
humility, it is because my life has been paid for by the blood, the cripplings
and the deaths of those who served under and with me on the battlefields of
Korea and Vietnam.
Do you truly believe an average person can become a better leader later
on in life?
Yes. A leader is always a leader of self first. As he or she ages, their
leadership, their judgment improves. I am a perfect example of that!
You speak of yourself as being “plain vanilla.” Why do you see
yourself that way? Do others see you that way?
I believe all of us need to view ourselves in a common way – and not letting
circumstances give us the big head. I have never fallen prey to the
headlines or what others say. I am I - just the way I am – a plain vanilla
kind of guy.
Playing In His Court
How do you deal with over-reactions around you in leadership?
Never over-react. Never, never overreact to an overreaction. If you do,
you‟re playing in his court!
What is a poor leader?
Reactive, lots of talk, scattered guidance, poor example, bad example and
bad leadership in crisis – especially time–critical. No one following him or
Possibilities vs Probabilities
Why did you seem to have a gift of knowing what was ahead of you?
I learned the difference early in my career to know the difference between
possibility and probability. I would concentrate on the probabilities and be
prepared for the possibilities. Important.
Do you have any thoughts about leadership and profanity?
I have always considered it to be a conduct issue when used. It seems to be
more prevalent in certain groups of same gender male boys and men. The
military is an environment where profanity can be over used. I believe
leaders should be profanity free in all walks of life, starting with family.
There are certainly better ways to emphasize a point or to be part of the
group rather than falling into that easy trap. It is a definite signal of
weakness and habit forming, which can become common practice. I wish
America would emphasize a profanity free nation as it does a drug free
nation. Great leaders should set the tone for all, to include conduct. I
believe our youth could take the lead here and change America‟s use of
What are your thoughts about a leader having what you believe might
be the best and proper perspective of his or her environment or culture
Proper perspective is not usually gained from the obvious. Reports, net
profits, input from trusted associates, conditions within an industry, etc. do
tell a leader much. But the intangibles give a leader the proper perspective
in what is going on and where things are heading. Those intangibles are
usually gained by the leader being in a very special place internally,
whereby their antenna is higher than most and they are able to receive
signals few others are. The higher the antenna, the better the reception.
The conditions of the business are usually best received and perceived
You have many friendships from different chapters in your life. As an
active leader of many, what happened with your friendships? Were the
relationships changed as you moved up in your career? What happens
to a friend who later reported to you or the reverse?
Friendships are wonderful in life and must be protected, but face it - the
relationship changes when reporting relationships change, impacting both.
It can be a very difficult period. The higher one moves up the
organizational chart, the lonelier it is. Great leaders are not needy
relationship leaders. If one is fortunate enough, the best one friend and
advisor one can have, is his or her spouse!
How has reconciliation played a part in your life of leading others?
When has it not! I have had to reconcile with myself most of my life.
Forgiving self is hard and I think we are our own worst enemies when it
comes to forgiving and reconciling with self – an important part of
leadership. Then it turns outward – to others. I spent much of my life
knowing that I must forgive those who have tried to kill me. I finally dealt
with it when it was made possible to meet the enemy face to face back in
Vietnam. Gen. An and I forgave and reconciled. To this day, I live with the
past having worked at forgiving and reconciling. All leaders, all of us, must
do the same – for that is the only true answer for world unity.
As a leader of troops, were you close to being killed?
In one fight in Korea I was in, a Chinese 82 mm Mortar shell exploded a
few yards from me to my right at the exact moment I looked down to my
right in the dark before my next step. At that instant my steel helmet was
struck and dented deeply over my right eye by a shell fragment. Strongly
knocked to my knees, I was momentarily stunned, my helmet still strapped
on but sideways. I reached down and picked up a jagged piece of steel the
size of a crumpled-up empty cigarette pack and immediately dropped it.
Red hot! Had I not looked down at the instant of explosion, it would have
gone into my head. It‟s a crapshoot! For some reason, a bullet never found
What would you recommend to leaders in better understanding their
mission and seeing the opportunities that exist on a daily basis in
helping the team excel?
All environments have what might be called a “normal” life and routine.
But in certain cycles of a business, normal must be redefined. One should
not compare a down cycle to normal conditions. A down cycle may very
well be “normal” considering the conditions. Start-ups, for example, should
never consider the problems being faced as abnormal – for it may well be
normal considering the start-up mode. When we were dropped into Death
Valley in LZXRAY, normal conditions had to be redefined instantly and
what we were facing was normal. A leader must always understand what
normal is for what the mission is at that very moment.
How should a leader deal with disunity in the ranks?
Eliminate the source of disunity. It is a leaders responsibility to do so. Be
smart and soft in going about it. Be creative in your approach. If not done
wisely, how it is done will be worse than the cause of disunity in the first
Respect My Right
There is much evidence as to your life of leadership and your
spirituality. You seem to have been and are bold with your faith. How
do you defend this?
Defend? I have never had to defend my faith. It requires no explanation.
The free world invites all to believe what they wish to believe and to
practice and live what one believes. I respect another‟s beliefs and
practices. Please respect my right to do the same.
Rule Of Nature
Is there a rule of nature in leadership?
Yes. If you take a resolute, strong stand and act like you mean it, you‟ll be
left alone. Act unsure and you‟re in trouble. That‟s a rule of nature.
Saying No To Self
How do the best leaders think internally?
Leaders should not say “no” to themselves; let the other person say “no.”
(I actually learned this from my son, Greg, and love it.)
Saying Yes To Others By Saying No
What are your thoughts about leadership in saying “no?”
When leaders say “no” to another, in many ways they are saying “yes” to
something far higher and better. Leaders are doing what is best for another
for the most part. There is nothing bad or wrong with “no.” It is very clear
and easy to understand in going forward. I have always viewed “no” as a
most helpful piece of valuable information.
To leaders, what is time?
With leaders, seconds count. Instincts and decisiveness come into play. In
quick-developing situations, the leader must act fast, impart confidence to
all around him – make it happen. Seconds count with great leaders. Lives
depend on this!
How important is respect for families in leadership?
It is difficult to lead an environment and others without respect for families.
Families are the secret strength of those working long and hard hours year
after year. The more respect given to one‟s family (yours and others), the
greater the odds of the leaders reaching their potential.
How should a leader select leaders to work with him or her?
Leaders should be asked directly to lead with you. Don‟t be coy. Others
want to be asked. Cast the widest net possible.
In your studies and experience, do you believe in leaders being self-
Abraham Lincoln was self- taught! Many great leaders have been, but they
are few and far between. Most of us are taught directly or indirectly from
and through others. I was. With this said, I believe the best leaders self-
correct. Self-correcting CEO‟s exceed stockholder expectations or in my
life, self-correcting soldiers save lives and win wars.
How are you dealing with your senior years?
I think I‟m in pretty good shape for the shape I‟m in. It isn‟t easy, but I
have my God, family and dear friends who help me. I have a very special
place; the rocker from my father-in-law, where I camp, read, reflect and
write. My church is close by; a great solace, comfort, and preparation for
future life. Auburn and my home is where I will be going out of the game.
What a way to go. I wait to be tapped on the shoulder one last time.
How important are small beginnings?
The world is better because of small beginnings and great ideas. America
is rich with recognizing small beginnings.
Are social graces important in leadership?
Yes, and should become an important part of a leader‟s life. Social graces
are important in life - Period. I fear that social graces may no longer be
part of leadership in certain circles. In my personal case, I learned the hard
way as a young officer that my social graces needed to be improved upon.
What are sound bites?
They should be strong and accurate statements “ready to go” for a leader
to use when appropriate. Each sound bite will be unique to the environment
the leader is leading.
Was there anything you learned as a youth that later in life came to be
an important part of your leading others?
Yes, the stars. In 1930 or so, when I was a boy back in Bardstown, Ky., I
would spend time in the forest nearby. At night I would lay on my back –
alone – looking up at the stars and worldly light. One of my favorite
constellations I learned about in the Boy Scouts was the Southern Cross. On
November 14,1965, after heated fighting at LZXRAY in Vietnam, the dark
caused both sides to stop the attack. However, I felt like the enemy could
use the dark to their advantage in that they were above us in the hills. On a
sand hill, I lay back and looked at the stars trying to determine how much
light there might be. I saw the Southern Cross clearly, as there was no
ambient light to limit my vision. You seize every fleeting opportunity you
can in such circumstances. This led to how I decided to handle the quiet
evening preparing for next light in the morning. Then, in 1993, when I went
back to LZXRAY with some of my former troopers and the former enemy,
we spent the night at LZXRAY. After a major storm, I walked the perimeter
in the middle of the night. The sky was clear as a bell and I could see the
constellations and the many shooting stars. The Southern Cross was there
once more to use in my talking to my 79 men who died in the battle. You
might say that the Southern Cross has been with me all of my life.
When do leaders become obvious future great leaders?
The formative years of a leader are controlled initially by chance, next by
things in his wheelhouse, next by others. When one‟s future is less
controlled by external factors and the leader begins to win out on those
factors, that is an indication of a special leader underway. His or her
comportment, attitude, work habits and comments tell me much.
You have had “another life” so to speak – without the military. What
has that life been for you as a leader?
I had to start all over learning again in some ways. Fortunately, my new
boss was an old boss. The former Secretary of the Army, Bo Callaway,
hired me as executive vice president at his new ski resort in Colorado. Was
that ever an adjustment! Since then, I write, speak and learn from others.
The basic Principles of Leadership apply in all professions.
How does one who becomes a very successful leader stay grounded in
what really matters in life?
This is a tough question. It depends on how one defines success. We have
fallen into a trap of defining success by standards that are not true
measurements of leadership. By all rights, I suppose having three stars on
my shoulder indicates some success. We need to understand that what we
may achieve is not who we are. There is a difference. I never wish to be
defined by others in terms of what was achieved, but rather who is Hal
Moore, the man – my actions, decisions, comportment, my awareness of the
shortness of life and the length of eternity.
Stepping On One’s Tie
You have often cautioned leaders not to “step on their tie.” Please
We can each fall victim to acting in haste without enough good information.
We can make decisions that are less than right. In fact, we can be
downright stupid about some things, regardless one‟s level. To do so, can
cause one to “step on their tie,” with an impact on others. Many careers
can come to a dead stop due to poor judgment.
Straightest Path To Follow
In decision-making, what should leaders consider with respect to which
path to follow in leading others?
The best leaders sense the perfect way to go – the straightest path to the
Strong Commitment To Understanding
How does a leader deal with drug problems of those within his
At Ft. Ord, when I was the commanding general, it was indeed a problem in
the early 1970‟s. We did everything possible to save the lives of those with
problems. From education to rehab, we did it all. We invited all who
wanted help to come forward and we would help them without penalty. We
exhibited a strong commitment to understanding and to programs that
would bring them back to normal. I am sure there are much improved ways
to help others today with drug issues.
Is there an unexplainable resource brought to leadership that you
might speak to?
I have always believed there is a strong force that reaches out, beats out
from a strong leader, which reaches into the hearts and minds of his or her
team or business. This force is unexplainable.
You love to read. Your library is large and with many genres, with such
books as The Masters Violin, The Memoirs of Queen Hortense,
I discovered at West Point a magnificent library loaded with books on
Military History and Leadership. In my youth, I read every book I could get
my hands on. Ever since then, for 65 years now I have been fascinated by
the study of Leadership – Military, Political, Business, Religious, Athletic,
etc – and within that, a special interest in “why leaders fail.”
Talking My Language
What is the relationship between physical and mental fitness in
Now you are talking my language! The more I was fit, the better leader I
was. When I was tired after work after a 10-12 hour day at The Pentagon, I
would go for a refreshing three mile run! Mental alertness and smart
decision-making feeds off of being physically fit. With me, it worked! I
found running even in the base camp in Vietnam was possible and helpful.
What do you think today about your life in the military and as a
I was tapped on the shoulder to do many special things, and I hope I did
them. I am still a “sometimes” leader to my children and an “all the time”
leader to myself to “make the cut” at life‟s end.
Talk to us about technology and leadership?
A great tool and resource. But be careful. Technology and mountains of
information will never take the place of real and important leaders who can
build an army, nation, business or a family. Leaders feel and read the
winds. Leaders know in ways that technology will never answer. A smart
combination of both is good.
Did the two books and movie achieve what you had hoped?
Yes! Joe Galloway is a great writer, and he and I – as a “writing team”
got it right, with a little help from me. We did this for those men who died.
We told their story.
There By Chance
What should a leader consider when they are placed into a new
Do not believe that you are there by chance. They are chosen and where
they have been placed is at the perfect time.
Do you often think about other leaders?
The best leaders are usually those kind of people others enjoy thinking
about. After they are gone, they remain with others. I love thinking about
certain leaders whom I have met or read about or served under.
This Is It
How are you spending the days? Do people come to visit you in your
home? Who? Why? Do you write any more?
My children come home to Dad for visits. That is special. Every now and
then, one of my troopers from years ago writes, calls or shows up at my
back door. On June 3, 2009, Lt. Col. Bruce “Snake” Crandall and his wife,
Arlene, surprised me with a visit. What an inner joy that is, knowing that
three of my troopers, including Snake, received the Congressional Medal of
Honor. And to think, I served with them!!! The battle happened in 1965 and
here in 2009, we are soldiers still. With respect to writing, this is it!
When should one share or not share leadership views with others?
Most things about leadership are too important not to share. I would be
careful not to share unless invited to do so. All too often views on
leadership are “old hat” to most. To be candid, I am concerned about what
I am saying in this work – that it may be boring.
Too Much Hal Moore
What lies ahead for Hal Moore? When will you retire for good?
America has had too much Hal Moore. I am old and have forgotten much.
But retire - never.
Treated With Dignity
There have been more obvious moments of leadership in your life that
have required a high level of respect for life – for differences. At West
Point. In Vietnam. At Ft. Ord. You are on record when leaving
LZXRAY in looking down at the hundreds of enemy dead as saying,
“They had mothers too!” With respect, as a leader, what do you
suggest to leaders of today when faced with many cultural and ethnic
Every human being matters. Even in war, respect for life matters.
Especially in war! The dignity of man, woman, or child must be protected -
if at all possible, at all times. If a leader lacks sensitivity and understanding
for the human condition, immediate corrective thinking and action should
be taken for the benefit of those he or she serves. One thing is certain, if
there is a slight element of prejudicial bias in one‟s leadership, it will be
sensed immediately, and impact team unity. We all want to be treated with
Trusting My Gut
As a leader, have most of your decisions been based upon fact?
Yes, most have, but - I have found that hunches are often more predictive
and productive than the best laid reasoning of the higher minds. I trust my
gut, but it took me time before I learned to trust my gut.
Turning On The Afterburner
How difficult is it to lead oneself?
It is the most difficult leadership role one can play. Life eats away at all of
us and when things are less than desired, we begin to question who we are,
what we do, and why this happened or that happened. In the middle of
uncertainty with crisis or failure, as I have experienced such, I turn on the
afterburner and go through the event believing in myself. In the calm of life
without pressure, that is a good time to go back to the basics of training and
Turning Ordinary to Extraordinary
How do the best leaders deal with ordinary?
I believe the best leaders who create the future turn ordinary days or
routine events into extraordinary moments and results. Not every day mind
you, but they never cease to surprise or amaze.
Please speak to turning points?
We all have them and they are significant in our lives. Some change lives.
All of us can pinpoint a time in our lives when “it” happened. I can and I
came out alive but some of my men did not!
What are your thoughts about leadership and losing one’s temper?
First, flying off the handle hurts one with the temper for he or she becomes
useless. Second, the victim of the uncontrolled wrath is damaged. Third,
the person who loses his or her temper may recover quickly, but the victim
rarely recovers as quickly - and in some cases never. The best advice I
read somewhere is – keep your temper, as no one else wants it!
In all of your life purposes have you ever been defeated?
“I don‟t think so - no. I have fought in many fights. Some were „fights‟ on
foreign soil, and some were „conflicts‟ right here at home. There have been
moments when the outcomes were uncertain. I have lost men - but for some
reason, those who opposed me always withdrew or my troopers and I or
team were the last standing. There are many reasons to be defeated …
being overrun, strategy down the tube, poor leadership, events beyond
one‟s control, lack of training, etc. Being defeated is usually due to the
wrong estimate of the situation, bad judgment and poor example. All of life
is touch and go. If I have ever experienced a setback, I always tackled the
next day with an undefeated spirit. Being defeated was never an option. We
all have setbacks – and they can be profound. I have lived my life being on
attack. There are times when both parties are „running at each other with
bayonets fixed.‟ Much personal courage is required. But I never quit – you
must never quit. That is the way I am planning to go out of the game having
lived my life undefeated. Undefeated leadership is possible for all leaders
in all walks of life. I am still on the attack!”
You are a man of action. You are also a contemplative. How do you
explain this as a leader?
I believe my actions are the result of my contemplative nature. We all have
this within us. We just have to find it and then understand it. Leaders can
grow leaps and bounds by developing their contemplative nature. Being
one does not represent a lack of action. It is the leader who brings this to
his or her actions in leading that works best.
What are your views on human values and leadership?
Good leadership requires concern for universal human values, moral value
What is victory like on a battlefield? Is war full of mistakes?
In my life‟s work, victory goes to the leaders who make the next-to-last
mistake on the battlefield. Battling others is fierce in any business and
mistakes can be made. But one must drive on and forget. Moving on
enables leaders to be certain that their mistakes were the next-to-last made.
Victory can be a very humbling and dirty business.
How important is a leader’s vision?
Very. Never stray from the initial vision. There will be pressure to do so.
Others will see the mission ahead differently. Be sure to engage leaders
and gain their buy-in. After so doing, stay true to the vision.
What is different about a leader’s vocabulary?
Interesting question. Most leaders are better read than most. Most leaders
listen better than most. Most leaders learn more quickly than most. Most
leaders are impacted by reading, listening and learning. Their normal
vocabulary is influenced by this mindset. However, the best leaders have
their own vocabulary. They quickly translate certain key words to action
and you know their vocabulary by what they do – words are viewed
differently by great leaders. You or I might define one word one way and a
great leader might define it another – such as the word “problem.” He or
she may see it as “opportunity.”
How have you learned to wait on others? How is that best used by
Waiting on others is not a time for anxiety. If one is late for me, or I wait
on them due to their being behind schedule or they treat me with less than
respect due to our agreed to time and their running over – waiting becomes
a valuable new asset in my relationship with them. I then have an
additional edge in the purpose of our meeting. I will say this, there is no
reasonable or acceptable excuse in not being exactly on time with another –
unless of course, communications in advance of the exact time share and
rescheduling is requested or the door is open for a later arrival. Waiting
can be used to advantage.
How do you use the “what ifs” mind-set in leadership?
I always consider what am I NOT doing that I should be doing and what am
I doing that I should NOT be doing.
“Without Equal” became your charge to your troopers at Ft. Benning
in 1964, and thereafter it became your leadership standard for all to
follow. You have used this charge in speeches and in a Letter to
It worked then – for my troopers and me. It still works! It is a timeless
phrase because it has double meaning, implying family – “We, Family” and
being the very best – “We, Without Equal.” In this way we were not only
family, but also proved to be the very best. In all my years of learning from
and training leaders, the most successful method of helping others to be
without equal is – encouragement. Other methods may work for a while
and will be evident. But encouragement is oxygen for the soul – and is
forever remembered – and moves one upward and onward into the without
equal rarified air. And – it was Julie who was the oxygen for my soul!!!
What do you see in the future of America?
Our youth are our future! We must act smartly for our nation and for them.
We owe our youth all we are and have learned. We must make their
education, character development, and spiritual growth teachable
programs. I like what I see. Our youth are smarter for their age than I ever
remember, but they are less able to do for themselves. We have helped our
youth walk with remote controlled lives – if they do not like something, they
just press a button and they change the moment or the unhappiness.
Learning to work through failure or disappointment is very important at
any age. Responsibility, discipline and honor are important growth
opportunities for our nation to help our youth. Growing fast never was as
important as growing deep. We must do more. This is not a choice.