Veteran Lesson V: Achieve Technical Excellence (Ten Veteran Lessons for Every Day)
One of the first tradecraft lessons passed on to new officers from older ones is “never order your men to do something you would be unwilling to do yourself.” A clear separation between legal authority and moral authority exists, not only in the profession of arms, but in everyday leadership opportunities available to all.
Legal authority is guaranteed to superior officers by virtue of rank. A lawful order must be followed, with serious punishment the consequence of disobedience. A Lieutenant Colonel ordering a Captain to perform a task can expect to be obeyed, but if he wants the best the Captain has to offer day in and day out, and to be followed to the gates of hell, he must also have a strong element of moral authority. Moral authority is earned, and not simply granted by position or rank.