Which was/is the biggest flaw in a leader?

Which is the biggest flaw in a leader?

  • Indecisiveness

    Votes: 77 64.2%
  • Stupidity

    Votes: 20 16.7%
  • Lack of courage

    Votes: 4 3.3%
  • Something else

    Votes: 19 15.8%

  • Total voters
    120

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Near Kankakee
Disagree, Duke. Bragg could be very decisive. He just couldn't adapt when the situation changed.

Ole
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Location
California
An excellent example of indecisiveness. It also may not. And that's the difference.

And only a general with judgment is going to be someone who can make the decision correctly with any pertense towards reliability.

Always standing by a course of action until the bitter end is not generalship of any form worth respecting, but its very, very decisive.

Indecisiveness has definitely lost many battles in history.

Indeed. So has stupidity.

A general who cannot be both decisive and thoughtful will not win.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Near Kankakee
Decisive, as we're discussing it, does not mean waiting until the moment is right. Johnston was waiting until the moment was right. Better generals acted, right or wrong.

Ole
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Location
California
Decisive, as we're discussing it, is a bad thing unless you know when acting is a good idea.

Johnston did not know, so his policy fails for both prudence and as determination.

"ACT NOW!" as a policy regardless of conditions wastes men and materials.

That does not mean that one should wait for some perfect moment - but that one should not say "Its the enemy. ALL OUT ATTACK!" in any and every situation and expect to win.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Consistency.

Without consistency, there is no leadership, only chaos.

One thing I learned in 20 years with the US Army, consistency was the key to good leadership and good morale.

Being inconsistent was a unit killer and showed a complete lack of leadership.

I was told I could have any type of management style I felt comfortable with, any leadership traits I could attain, but I must be CONSISTENT in all things.

If I was going to be an a**hole, I had to be one ALL the time. If I was going to be fair, I had to be fair all the time, but I could not be an a**hole one day and a fair guy the next.

Consistency.

Without it, a leader can run his unit into the ground and inspire no confidence in his leadership style.

IMO,
Unionblue
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Location
California
Some people appear to prefer decisiveness for being decisive whether or not its stupid, however.

There's no point being able to make a decision without hesitation unless you have the ability to make good decisions.

Aggressive fools can get lucky (say, Hood at Franklin as a scenario where that might have come up) - but to point to the actual battle, aggressive fools are more likely to lose heavily without gaining anything in exchange for their losses.
 

K Hale

Colonel
Annual Winner
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Location
Texas
Well, if you can't make good decisions, you will be removed and replaced with someone who can. If you can't make quick decisions, you will be removed and replaced with someone who can. Grant did both these things. But, as has been said, this is also dependent on being able to go to Plan B if Plan A is shown not to be working.

And of course if everybody is making quick, stupid decisions, the war will end pretty soon anyway.
 

Severon

Cadet
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Location
Good ol' Texas
Good point K_Hale. Incompetent leaders create problems for themselves which is NOT good in a war. War is so full of problems in the first place that anyone who creates their own, is putting themselves in a whole lot more trouble.
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Location
California
But, as has been said, this is also dependent on being able to go to Plan B if Plan A is shown not to be working.

Indeed. Recognizing that Plan A is not working takes the ability to be more than decisive alone - implenting either takes more than judgment alone.

If you can't recognize its time for Plan B, you're no general. If you can't implement Plan B because you're too busy vacilating, you're no general.
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Right here.
Some people appear to prefer decisiveness for being decisive whether or not its stupid, however.

There's no point being able to make a decision without hesitation unless you have the ability to make good decisions.

Aggressive fools can get lucky (say, Hood at Franklin as a scenario where that might have come up) - but to point to the actual battle, aggressive fools are more likely to lose heavily without gaining anything in exchange for their losses.

Remember the question is which is the biggest flaw in a leader. Sort of like which is the worst cancer to die from.

Obviously you want your leaders to be smart, decisive, consistent, etc.

But which is the worst flaw to have?

Hands down, it's indecisiveness, because that renders not only the leader but the entire army useless. As you said, even a stupid leader gets lucky now and then, but an indecisive leader doesn't get even that chance.

Give me a leader who makes a decision and sticks with it anytime over a leader who won't or can't make a decision, or vacillates between two or more courses of action, always changing his mind.

Obviously I want those decisions to be sound, but at least give me a direction to go and make the decision quickly enough that I'm not playing catch-up the whole way through, and I'll take it from there and make it work. A leader who is indecisive is no leader at all.

Decisiveness:

"Retreat Hell! We've just got here!" - Attributed to several World War I Marine Corps officers, Belleau Wood, June 1918.

"G*****n it, you will never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!" - Captain Henry P. "Jim" Crowe, USMC, Guadalcanal, 13 January 1943.

“What outfit is this?”
"5th Rangers!"
“Well, g*****n it then, Rangers, lead the way!” - Gen Norman Cota

"Gentlemen, we are being killed on the beaches. Let us go inland and be killed." - Gen Norman Cota

“There are only two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here!” - Col George A. Taylor

On being told he and his 10,000 Marines were surrounded by 80,000 Chinese at the Chosin Reservoir: "Good — now we can attack in all directions!" - Gen Lewis "Chesty" Puller

“Some of our men are pretty badly demoralized, but the enemy must be more so, for he has attempted to force his way out, but has fallen back: the one who attacks first now will be victorious and the enemy will have to be in a hurry if he gets ahead of me.” - Ulysses S. Grant

Regards,
Cash
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Location
California
Obviously I want those decisions to be sound, but at least give me a direction to go and make the decision quickly enough that I'm not playing catch-up the whole way through, and I'll take it from there and make it work. A leader who is indecisive is no leader at all.

The problem is that a decisive idiot is much more likely to cause nasty consequences for his side.

Sure, sometimes a decisive idiot gets lucky. Which is more likely, him getting lucky or him wrecking his army and costing more than the indecisive guy?

Varro was extremely decisive at Cannae. He also bungled his way into losing the better part of a whole army. Similarly, Hood was very decisive through out his career as commander of the AoT, and his lack of judgment turned that into an extension of the AoT's record of defeat.

Grant and the others quoted do not change that - they all had the ability to be decisive and to use their heads.

What we need to compare the relative destructiveness of stupidity vs. indecision are examples of leaders with decision and without sense and vice-versa.

http://cbi-theater-8.home.comcast.net/~cbi-theater-8/marauders/marauders.html

Not a man of the Marauders went back to India a walking, well man. Every one was ordered out by the medics; every man who marched into Burma so proudly and confidently three months before all either went out as a medical casualty or was left in a Burma jungle grave.

I am not impressed with Stilwell's generalship.
 

OpnOlympic

Cadet
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
As noted above, indecisiveness almost guarantees defeat. While even a stupid commander has a chance of success, if he maintains the initiative. Indecisiveness is the polar opposite of initiative.
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Location
California
Stupidity also almost inevitably guarantees defeat. Sure, it is possible that an aggressive fool can get lucky - but how many examples of that do we actually have, versus people with enough decision and aggressiveness for two or three men and a thimbleful of brains?

A general without judgement will not be able to take advantage of the initiative.
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Location
California
There's a thread somewhere on here where I dispute that, so as to avoid going into a full fledged arguement on that, I point you there (will dig out the link and post it).

Bragg was a bizzare mix of decisive and indecisive, though.

Sometimes he was extremely decisive - focused on something past the point of reason. Sometimes he wasn't decisive at all.
 
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