I have supported myself finacially the last 20 years mainly as an entrepreneur and leader of self established companies. The biggest adventure – HAGA Rekrytering – grew up to 30 employees and offices in 13 swedish cities. I stepped off as CEO in beginning of 2014 and currently I´m establishing a new activity as sub contractor to the swedish unemployment agency, called stöd och matchning (support and match).
Stepping into the leadership role can be rewarding and challenging, if its handled with responsibility and without greed, ego or too much stress. I have learned a lot from my experience with serving as manager of people. The following text is quite old, but sometimes knowledge and wisdom is much more clear and real when it hasn´t been filtered and added to by modern confused ideas. (I also recommend Art Of War by Sun Tzu, and The Prince, by Machiavelli).
With introduction by Napoleon Hill.
From “The law of success in 16 lessons”, 1928.
During the World War I was fortunate enough to listen to a great soldier’s analysis of how to be a leader. This analysis was given to the student-officers of the Second
Training Camp at Fort Sheridan, by Major C. A. Bach, a quiet,
unassuming army officer acting as an instructor. I have preserved a
copy of this address because I believe it to be one of the finest
lessons on leadership ever recorded.
The wisdom of Major Bach’s address is so vital to the business man
aspiring to leadership, or to the section boss, or to the stenographer,
or to the foreman of the shop, or to the president of the works, that I
have preserved it as a part of this Reading Course. It is my earnest
hope that through the agency of this course this remarkable
dissertation on leadership will find its way into the hands of every
employer and every worker and every ambitious person who aspires to
leadership in any walk of life. The principles upon which the address
is based are as applicable to leadership in business and industry and
finance as they are in the successful conduct of warfare.
Major Bach spoke as
When you join your organization you will find there a willing body of
men who ask from you nothing more than the qualities that will command
their respect, their loyalty and their obedience. They are perfectly
ready and eager to follow you so long as you can convince them that you
have these qualities. When the time comes that they are satisfied you
do not possess them you might as well kiss yourself good-bye. Your
usefulness in that organization is at an end.
From the standpoint of society, the world may be divided into leaders
and followers. The professions have their leaders, the financial world
has its leaders. In all this leadership it is difficult, if not
impossible, to separate from the element of pure leadership that
selfish element of personal gain or advantage to the individual,
without which any leadership would lose its value.
It is in military service only, where men freely sacrifice their lives
for a faith, where men are willing to suffer and die for the right or
the prevention of a wrong, that we can hope to realize leadership in
its most exalted and disinterested sense. Therefore, when I say
leadership, I mean military leadership.
In a few days the great mass of you men will receive commissions as
officers. These commissions will not make you leaders; they will merely
make you officers. They will place you in a position where you can
become leaders if you possess the proper attributes. But you must make
good, not so much with the men over you as with the men under you.
Men must and will follow into battle officers who are not leaders, but
the driving power behind these men is not enthusiasm but discipline.
They go with doubt and trembling that prompts the unspoken question,
“What will he do next?” Such men obey the letter of their orders but no
more. Of devotion to their commander, of exalted enthusiasm which
scorns personal risk, of self-sacrifice to insure his personal safety,
they know nothing. Their legs carry them forward because their brain
and their training tell them they must go. Their spirit does not go
Great results are not achieved by cold, passive, unresponsive soldiers.
They don’t go very far and they stop as soon as they can. Leadership
not only demands but receives the willing, unhesitating, unfaltering
obedience and loyalty of other men; and a devotion that will cause
them, when the time comes, to follow their uncrowned king to hell and
back again, if necessary.
You will ask yourselves: “Of just what, then, does leadership consist?
What must I do to become a leader? What are the attributes of
leadership, and how can I cultivate them?”
Leadership is a composite of a number of qualities. Among the most
important I would list Self- confidence, Moral
Ascendency, Self-Sacrifice, Paternalism, Fairness, Initiative,
Decision, Dignity, Courage. Self-confidence results, first, from exact
knowledge; second, the ability to impart that knowledge; and third, the
feeling of superiority over others that naturally follows. All these
give the officer poise. To lead, you must know! You may bluff all of
your men some of the time, but you can’t do it all the time. Men will
not have confidence in an officer unless he knows his business, and he
must know it from the ground up.
The officer should know more about paper work than his first sergeant
and company clerk put together; he should know more about messing than
his mess sergeant; more about diseases of the horse than his troop
farrier. He should be at least as good a shot as any man in his company.
If the officer does not know, and demonstrates the fact that he does
not know, it is entirely human for the soldier to say to himself, “To
hell with him. He doesn’t know as much about this as I do,” and calmly
disregard the instructions received.
There is no substitute for accurate knowledge!
Become so well informed that men will hunt you up to ask questions;
that your brother officers will say to one another, “Ask Smith – he
And not only should each officer know thoroughly the duties of his own
grade, but he should study those of the two grades next above him. A
two- fold benefit attaches to this. He prepares himself for duties
which may fall to his lot any time during battle; he further gains a
broader viewpoint which enables him to appreciate the necessity for the
issuance of orders and join more intelligently in their execution.
Not only must the officer know but he must be able to put what he knows
into grammatical, interesting, forceful English. He must learn to stand
on his feet and speak without embarrassment.
I am told that in British training camps student-officers are required
to deliver ten minute talks on any subject they choose. That is
excellent practice. For to speak clearly one must think clearly, and
clear, logical thinking expresses itself in definite, positive orders.
While self-confidence is the result of knowing more than your men,
Moral Ascendency over them is based upon your belief that you are the
better man. To gain and maintain this ascendency you must have
self-control, physical vitality and endurance and moral force. You must
have yourself so well in hand that, even though in battle you be scared
stiff, you will never show fear. For if by so much as a hurried
movement or a trembling of the hands, or a change of expression, or a
hasty order hastily revoked, you indicate your mental condition it will
be reflected in your men in a far greater degree.
In garrison or camp many instances will arise to try your temper and
wreck the sweetness of your disposition. If at such times you “fly off
the handle” you have no business to be in charge of men. For men in
anger say and do things that they almost invariably regret afterward.
An officer should never apologize to his men; also an officer should
never be guilty of an act for which his sense of justice tells him he
Another element in gaining Moral Ascendency lies in the possession of
enough physical vitality and endurance to withstand the hardships to
which you and your men are subjected, and a dauntless spirit that
enables you not only to accept them cheerfully but to minimize their
Make light of your troubles, belittle your trials and you will help
vitally to build up within your organization an esprit whose value in
time of stress cannot be measured.
Moral force is the third element in gaining Moral Ascendency. To exert
moral force you must live clean; you must have sufficient brain power
to see the right and the will to do right.
Be an example to your men!
An officer can be a power for good or a power for evil. Don’t preach to
them – that will be worse than useless. Live the kind of life you would
have them lead, and you will be surprised to see the number that will
A loud-mouthed, profane captain who is careless of his personal
appearance will have a loud-mouthed, profane, dirty company. Remember
what I tell you. Your company will be the reflection of yourself! If
you have a rotten company it will be because you are a rotten captain.
Self-sacrifice is essential to leadership. You will give, give, all the
time. You will give of yourself physically, for the longest hours, the
hardest work and the greatest responsibility are the lot of the
captain. He is the first man up in the morning and the last man in at
night. He works while others sleep.
You will give of yourself mentally, in sympathy and appreciation for
the troubles of men in your charge. This one’s mother has died, and
that one has lost all his savings in a bank failure. They may desire
help, but more than anything else they desire sympathy. Don’t make the
mistake of turning such men down with the statement that you have
troubles of your own, for every time you do that you knock a stone out
of the foundation of your house.
Your men are your foundation, and your house of leadership will tumble
about your ears unless it rests securely upon them. Finally, you will
give of your own slender financial resources. You will frequently spend
your own money to conserve the health and well-being of your men or to
assist them when in trouble. Generally you get your money back. Very
frequently you must charge it off to profit and loss.
Even so, it is worth the cost.
When I say that paternalism is essential to leadership I use the term
in its better sense. I do not now refer to that form of paternalism
which robs men of initiative, self-reliance and self-respect. I refer
to the paternalism that manifests itself in a watchful care for the
comfort and welfare of those in your charge.
Soldiers are much like children. You must see that they have shelter,
food and clothing, the best that your utmost efforts can provide. You
must see that they have food to eat before you think of your own; that
they have each as good a bed as can be provided before you consider
where you will sleep. You must be far more solicitous of their comfort
than of your own. You must look after their health. You must conserve
their strength by not demanding needless exertion or useless labor.
And by doing all these things you are breathing life into what would be
otherwise a mere machine. You are creating a soul in your organization
that will make the mass respond to you as though it were one man. And
that is esprit.
And when your organization has this esprit you will wake up some
morning and discover that the tables have been turned; that instead of
your constantly looking out for them they have, without even a hint
from you, taken up the task of looking out for you. You will find that
a detail is always there to see that your tent, if you have one, is
promptly pitched; that the most and the cleanest bedding is brought to
your tent; that from some mysterious source two eggs have been added to
your supper when no one else has any; that an extra man is helping your
men give your horse a supergrooming; that your wishes are anticipated;
that every man is “Johnny-on- the-spot.” And then you have arrived!
You cannot treat all men alike! A punishment that would be dismissed by
one man with a shrug of the shoulders is mental anguish for another. A
company commander who, for a given offense, has a standard punishment
that applies to all is either too indolent or too stupid to study the
personality of his men. In his case justice is certainly blind.
Study your men as carefully as a surgeon studies a difficult case. And
when you are sure of your diagnosis apply the remedy. And remember that
you apply the remedy to effect a cure, not merely to see the victim
squirm. It may be necessary to cut deep, but when you are satisfied as
to your diagnosis don’t be diverted from your purpose by any false
sympathy for the patient.
Hand in hand with fairness in awarding punishment walks fairness in
giving credit. Everybody hates a human hog. When one of your men has
accomplished an especially creditable piece of work see that he gets
the proper reward. Turn heaven and earth upside down to get it for him.
Don’t try to take it away from him and hog it for yourself. You may do
this and get away with it, but you have lost the respect and loyalty of
your men. Sooner or later your brother officers will hear of it and
shun you like a leper. In war there is glory enough for all. Give the
man under you his due. The man who always takes and never gives is not
a leader. He is a parasite.
There is another kind of fairness – that which will prevent an officer
from abusing the privileges of his rank. When you exact respect from
soldiers be sure you treat them with equal respect. Build up their
manhood and self-respect. Don’t try to pull it down.
For an officer to be overbearing and insulting in the treatment of
enlisted men is the act of a coward. He ties the man to a tree with the
ropes of discipline and then strikes him in the face knowing full well
that the man cannot strike back.
Consideration, courtesy and respect from officers toward enlisted men
are not incompatible with discipline. They are parts of our discipline.
Without initiative and decision no man can expect to lead.
In maneuvers you will frequently see, when an emergency arises, certain
men calmly give instant orders which later, on analysis, prove to be,
if not exactly the right thing, very nearly the right thing to have
done. You will see other men in emergency become badly rattled; their
brains refuse to work, or they give a hasty order, revoke it; give
another, revoke that; in short, show every indication of being in a
Regarding the first man you may say: “That man is a genius. He hasn’t
had time to reason this thing out. He acts intuitively.” Forget it!
Genius is merely the capacity for taking infinite pains. The man who
was ready is the man who has prepared himself. He has studied
beforehand the possible situations that might arise; he has made
tentative plans covering such situations. When he is confronted by the
emergency he is ready to meet it. He must have sufficient mental
alertness to appreciate the problem that confronts him and the power of
quick reasoning to determine what changes are necessary in his already
formulated plan. He must also have the decision to order the execution
and stick to his orders.
Any reasonable order in an emergency is better than no order. The
situation is there. Meet it. It is better to do something and do the
wrong thing than to hesitate, hunt around for the right thing to do and
wind up by doing nothing at all. And, having decided on a line of
action, stick to it. Don’t vacillate. Men have no confidence in an
officer who doesn’t know his own mind.
Occasionally you will be called upon to meet a situation which no
reasonable human being could anticipate. If you have prepared yourself
to meet other emergencies which you could anticipate, the mental
training you have thereby gained will enable you to act promptly and
You must frequently act without orders from higher authority. Time will
not permit you to wait for them. Here again enters the importance of
studying the work of officers above you. If you have a comprehensive
grasp of the entire situation and can
form an idea of the general plan of your superiors, that and your
previous emergency training will enable you to determine that the
responsibility is yours and to issue the necessary orders without delay.
The element of personal dignity is important in military leadership. Be
the friend of your men, but do not become their intimate. Your men
should stand in awe of you – not fear! If your men presume to become
familiar it is your fault, and not theirs. Your actions have encouraged
them to do so. And, above all things, don’t cheapen yourself by
courting their friendship or currying their favor. They will despise:
you for it. If you are worthy of their loyalty and respect and devotion
they will surely give all these without asking. If you are not, nothing
that you can do will win them.
It is exceedingly difficult for an officer to be dignified while
wearing a dirty, spotted uniform and a three days’ stubble of whiskers
on his face. Such a man lacks self-respect, and self-respect is an
essential of dignity.
There may be occasions when your work entails dirty clothes and an
unshaved face. Your men all look that way. At such times there is ample
reason for your appearance. In fact, it would be a mistake to look too
clean – they would think that you were, not doing your share. But as
soon as this unusual occasion has passed set an example for personal
And then I would mention courage. Moral courage you need as well as
mental courage – that kind of moral courage which enables you to adhere
without faltering to a determined course of action, which your judgment
has indicated is the one best suited to secure the desired results.
You will find many times, especially in action, that, after having
issued your orders to do a certain thing, you will be beset by
misgivings and doubts; you will see, or think you see, other and better
means for accomplishing the object sought. You will be strongly tempted
to change your orders. Don’t do it until it is clearly manifested that
your first orders were radically wrong. For, if you do, you will be
again worried by doubts as to the efficacy of your second orders.
Every time you change your orders without obvious reason you weaken
your authority and impair the confidence of your men. Have the moral
courage to stand by your order and see it through.
Moral courage further demands that you assume the responsibility for
your own acts. If your subordinates have loyally carried out your
orders and the movement you directed is a failure the failure is yours,
not theirs. Yours would have been the honor had it been successful.
Take the blame if it results in disaster. Don’t try to shift it to a
subordinate and make him the goat. That is a cowardly act. Furthermore,
you will need moral courage to determine the fate of those under you.
You will frequently be called upon for recommendations for promotion or
demotion of officers and non- commissioned officers in your immediate
Keep clearly in mind your personal integrity and the duty you owe your
country. Do not let yourself be deflected from a strict sense of
justice by feelings of personal friendship. If your own brother is your
sec- and lieutenant, and you find him unfit to hold his commission,
eliminate him. If you don’t your lack of moral courage may result in
the loss of valuable lives.
If, on the other hand, you are called upon for a recommendation
concerning a man whom, for personal reasons, you thoroughly dislike, do
not fail to do him full justice. Remember that your aim is the general
good, not the satisfaction of an individual grudge.
I am taking it for granted that you have physical courage. I need not
tell you how necessary that is. Courage is more than bravery. Bravery
is fearlessness – the absence of fear. The merest dolt may be brave,
because he lacks the mentality to appreciate his danger; he doesn’t
know enough to be afraid.
Courage, however, is that firmness of spirit, that moral backbone
which, while fully appreciating the danger involved, nevertheless goes
on with the undertaking. Bravery is physical; courage is mental and
moral. You may be cold all over; your hands may tremble; your legs may
quake; your knees be ready to give way-that is fear. If, nevertheless,
you go forward; if, in spite of this physical defection you continue to
lead your men against the enemy, you have courage. The physical
manifestations of fear will pass away. You may never experience them
but once. They are the “buck fever” of the hunter who tries to shoot
his first deer. You must not give way to them.
A number of years ago, while taking a course in demolitions, the class
of which I was a member was handling dynamite. The instructor said,
regarding its manipulation: “I must caution you gentlemen to be careful
in the use of these explosives. One man has but one accident.” And so I
would caution you. If you give way to fear that will doubtless beset
you in your first action; if you show the white feather; if you let
your men go forward while you hunt a shell crater, you will never again
have the opportunity of leading those men.
Use judgment in calling on your men for displays of physical courage or
bravery. Don’t ask any man to go where you would not go yourself. If
your common sense tells you that the place is too dangerous for you to
venture into, then it is too dangerous for him. You know his life is as
valuable to him as yours is to you.
Occasionally some of your men must be exposed to danger which you
cannot share. A message must be taken across a fire-swept zone. You
call for volunteers. If your men know you and know that you are “right”
you will never lack volunteers, for they will know your heart is in
your work, that you are giving your country the best you have, that you
would willingly carry the message yourself if you could. Your example
and enthusiasm will have inspired them.
And, lastly, if you aspire to leadership, I would urge you to study men.
Get under their skins and find out what is inside. Some men are quite
different from what they appear to be on the surface. Determine the
workings of their mind.
Much of General Robert E. Lee’s success as a leader may be ascribed to
his ability as a psychologist. He knew most of his opponents from West
Point days; knew the workings of their minds; and he believed that they
would do certain things
under certain circumstances. In nearly every case he was able to
anticipate their movements and block the execution.
You cannot know your opponent in this war in the same way. But you can
know your own men. You can study each to determine wherein lies his
strength and his weakness; which man can be relied upon to the last
gasp and which cannot.
Know your men, know your business, know yourself!
Major C.A Bach