A leader must be a moralist….

I found an article in doing research, written in 1985 by Vice Admiral James Stockdale, one of the Navy’s most decorated officers in its history. In the essay titled “Trail by Fire” Stockdale reflect on leadership.
Here’s what he said: “To lead under duress, one must be a moralist. The leader must be a thinker, must have the wisdom, the courage and the audacity to make clear just what, under the circumstances, the good is. This requires a clear perception of right and wrong and the integrity to stand behind one’s assessment. The surest way for a leader to wind up in the ashcan of history, is to have a reputation for indirectness or deceit. “
To go deeper into Stockdale’s position, what would being a moralist intrinsically mean?
Is even possible to have a “clear perception” of right and wrong? Isn’t a perception a truly personal interpretation of the reality one finds oneself in? Therefore one speaks “their truth” but it may not be THE truth. If a leader acts solely on one’s perception of reality and one’s understanding is “good”, is that enough to make the best decision?
Stockdale makes some really great and admirable points. The real challenge is how to intrinsically develop into being the moralist Stockdale describes?


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