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The Doubt Principle

On February 01, 2010, in Leadership Principles, by Neculai Fantanaru

Never doubt the leader's intentions if don't even know them yet.

Sometime, in a few years, I'll wish to remember the important things that I have learned over the years in my life. That is why I write these words very passionately. Because time and life erase a lot of things from one's memory, but what I write will always remain vivid here, on the World Wide Web. However, I don't write only for myself, but for you, my readers, who are eager to learn new information on leadership which you will apply, eager to improve your performances and abilities, as well. I hope from the bottom of my heart this will be useful for you, now and in the future.

A long time ago, I found a book which, first of all, I would consider it "necessary". It meant a lot for me, as it taught me a lot of things. It was also the first historical book that I ever read and, at the same time, a beautiful lesson of leadership. It is called "Hannibal ante portas" and the author, in case you haven't heard of him (I hadn't heard about him myself, at that time), is called Slavomir Nastasijevic. In this article, I shall focus on a certain paragraph of this splendid book.

Leadership: Is giving a sense of learning to the lessons that come from inside the experience of your personality an expression of the belief that everything that inspires you will happen?

The victory won in the battle at lake Trasimenus against the Roman consul Flaminius was total. The Carthaginian army, lead by Hannibal, got a lot of weapons and several Italic prisoners. According to war rules, they would be killed or turned into slaves. But, on this occasion, things were completely different.

For the first time, Hannibal addressed to the prisoners:

- Italic people, Hannibal didn't come to Italy to enslave you… You were made prisoners by my warriors in the battles in which the Romans pushed you, but I don't consider you as my enemies, I mean to do you no harm and I decided to give you freedom… Go to your homes and tell everyone: Hannibal didn't come to Italy to enslave it, but to free it from the reign of the Romans, hated all over the world !

Then he ordered that all slaves be released, their shackles removed and be given supplies for three days.

The slaves hustled, pushed each other aside, hugged one another, some cried of joy or laughed as if they were crazy. But Hannibal's decision confounded all the Carthaginian captains, who started to mumble and frown. It was unprecedented. "Only a madman could release more than three thousand prisoners", they all said to themselves.

Performance in leadership falls under the conditions of a "road in progress" adequately signaled with the priority indicator to what is coming from the opposite sense when peoples’ reactions are siding with beliefs that must not be questioned.

Colontai, one of Hannibal's most valuable captains, gritting his teeth, asked him:

- Why would you offer them freedom?

And Sivas, another captain, added:

- What will we tell our warriors when they'll hear about this?

Hannibal laughed and told them:

- Be silent... In their lands, everyone will tell of our nobility, which is the real way of confusing the enemy. After we conquer Rome and all of Italy, you may take as many slaves you wish.

All the captains loudly agreed to Hannibal's decision.

Leadership: Must your vision of what you’re able of carrying out comply with an experience of personal power that moves you closer to the tendency of believing yourself to be invincible?

Don't judge the leader's decisions if you don't know what his intentions are. Only a skillful leader can win one victory after another. And only a skillful leader can always muster up his men at a maximum, in order to achieve his proposed goals.

Hannibal was such a leader. All the battles he won were due to his ability not to oversee any detail. Cunning, very confident and studious, Hannibal studied in good time all the aspects related to battles, he thought in advance all the strategies, knowing that his ultimate goal, the conquest of Rome, is not easy at all to achieve. He knew from his father, Hamilcar Barcas, that the only way to avoid a fiasco was to conceive in advance all his opponents' moves, understanding their psychology and tactics - to annihilate their strong points and never act hazardously. His superiority in regard to applying military tactics saved him many times from defeats and any type of uprising of his soldiers.

At their turn, the Puns lead by Hannibal, tens of thousands of warriors, were never reticent, on the contrary, they recognized him as perfect leader and followed him to death, strictly obeying his orders. They always accepted his orders because they knew he was right, as he was tried in battle and very elevated, at the same time, he understood the aspects related to winning a battle much better and he knew what to do in any circumstance.

The crowning persuasiveness is the result of the final confrontation between what appears to others as hard to believe and what is believed through delineation from what constitutes a momentary impression.

Even if they don't know his intentions, people have no reasons to judge the actions of the one leading them, except if he previously proved to be unskilled or ignorant. And an excellent leader knows how to convince people not to judge his intentions. Doubt, suspicion, lack of trust in a leader are in his disadvantage. It is an alarm signal when people come to doubt his decisions, a signal that cannot be ignored and which can push him away from them.

The finnish writer, Mika Waltari, once said that people are like the water flowing from one vessel to another, passively taking the shape of the vessel in which it was poured. Generally, people comply with and openly admit to the righteousness of a leader who always leads them to victory. But if he doesn't prove decisiveness, trust in his own forces, competence, fortitude, will and courage it is almost a certainty that people will have some doubts in regard to his intentions.

P.S. If the leader is very skillful, always listen to him. Never doubt his intentions if you don't even know what they are, because you only spread doubt, dissension and insubordination. You should rather try and understand his strategy.

 


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