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5 Leadership Tactics You Should Borrow From a Legendary Vietnam War Hero Strategies that fuel team success and are distilled from the remarkable service of Lt. Gen. Hal Moore.

By Christopher Myers Edited by Matt Scanlon

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

R. Diamond | Getty Images

Lieutenant General Harold Gregory "Hal" Moore Jr. was a United States Army officer who was famed for his remarkable leadership during the Battle of Ia Drang, the first major engagement between U.S. forces and the People's Army of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star and Purple Heart (among other decorations), he was the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. Its members' heroism was immortalized in the book We Were Soldiers Once… and Young and in the subsequent film adaptation We Were Soldiers. Put simply, he exemplified — both then and in future service — the qualities of a strong, effective leader, and this essay is an attempt to assess lessons that can be drawn from his life and experiences.

1. The importance of preparation

Moore understood that the key to success in any mission was to be as knowledgeable and prepared as possible. He spent countless hours studying enemy tactics, analyzing intelligence reports and learning about the terrain and culture of Vietnam and its people. His dedication in this was never more evident than in the way he trained troops: He pushed them to their physical and mental limits but always ensured that they were ready for the challenges that lay ahead, including anticipating the actions of opponents.

Key takeaway: Leaders must be knowledgeable about their industry, organization and team members, and they must be ready to face the unexpected. Dedicating time to learning, planning and strategizing results in better-informed decisions and teams primed for achievement.

Related: From the Battlefield to Business: 3 Leadership Principles for Cultivating Company Culture

2. Adaptability and flexibility

The Battle of Ia Drang amply demonstrated the importance of both these qualities. Moore faced numerous challenges during this clash between the U.S. Army and North Vietnamese forces, including his troops being both vastly outnumbered and surrounded. These challenges did not deter him. Instead, he adapted tactics, including shifting forces to establish a strong defensive perimeter and calling in air support to level the playing field. Moore's ability to adapt and maintain a clear vision of objectives ultimately led to a hard-fought victory.

Key takeaway: When confronted with obstacles or unexpected changes, leaders should remain open to new ideas and be willing to modify strategies to meet the evolving needs of teams and organizations.

3. Leading from the front

During the battle, Moore positioned himself at the center of the action, fighting alongside his troops and sharing their risks. His presence not only demonstrated commitment to the mission but was also a source of inspiration and motivation for fellow soldiers. By personally engaging in the fight, he built trust and confidence among troops, fostering a sense of unity and purpose.

Key takeaway: Effective leaders need to be actively involved in the day-to-day operations of teams, demonstrating their commitment to goals and providing support and guidance when necessary. Leading from the front promotes trust and fosters a sense of shared purpose.

Related: When Should a CEO Get Involved in Day-to-Day Details?

4. Care for subordinates

One of Moore's most notable leadership traits was a commitment to troop welfare. He was famed for building personal connections with the men, including carefully listening to their concerns. After the Battle of Ia Drang, he also took the time to write personal letters to the families of each soldier who had been killed in action, expressing his condolences and sharing memories of their loved ones. This level of care also played out in the way he led troops in battle: Moore prioritized their safety and made every effort to minimize casualties, even when doing so meant making difficult and otherwise costly decisions.

Key takeaway: Leaders should prioritize the well-being of team members and demonstrate genuine care and concern for their personal and professional lives. By fostering a supportive environment and promoting a culture of empathy and compassion, they build trust, loyalty and morale.

Related: 3 Simple Ways to Show Your Employees You Care

5. Lifelong learning

Throughout his career, Lt. Gen. Moore sought opportunities to enhance skills and knowledge, including attending advanced military courses and earning degrees in international relations and strategic intelligence. He also encouraged his troops to pursue education and personal development, recognizing that a well-rounded and knowledgeable team was more likely to succeed.

Even after he retired from the military, Moore continued to learn and share his experiences, co-authoring We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, and delivering speeches on leadership and military history. His dedication to lifelong learning demonstrated a conviction that there is always room for improvement.

Key takeaway: By seeking out opportunities for growth and encouraging teams to do the same, leaders can create a culture that better supports both individual and organizational success.

Christopher Myers

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO @ B:Side Capital + Fund, Professor @ W.P. Carey School of Business

Chris Myers is the CEO of B:Side Capital and B:Side Fund, one of the nation's largest SBA lenders. He also serves as a professor of entrepreneurship and management at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business.

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