Eisenhower would from time to time pretend to know less than he did, leaving the illusion that he was distracted and ill-informed about matters that deeply engaged him. – Evan Thomas, Ike’s Bluff
Ike’s Bluff is about how President Dwight D Eisenhower dealt with the Soviet Union when it became clear they, too, possessed nuclear weapons. The bluff referred to in the title was Eisenhower giving the impression he would use nuclear weapons at need and in much the same manner he would use a conventional weapon when he really was loathe to do that. For their part, the Soviets worked hard to give the impression were a legitimate world power when History shows us their country at the time was a complete mess, poor and unorganized and hardly half the threat they seemed to be.
We forget the exact context today’s Thought comes from, but Ike was receiving some briefing or another and he chose not let on exactly what he knew while others blathered away on the matter.
An excellent tactic.
It is said, truthfully, that knowledge is power. It is not always necessary, however, to let everyone know everything that you know. This is particularly good advice for a leader. A leader needs all possible information to make a decision, but a leader letting on what he knows to others might influence the information he receives.
Also, telling everything you know also levels the playing field and you may well find yourself ceding an advantage you previously enjoyed.
Eisenhower would from time to time pretend to know less than he did…
Eisenhower spent a lifetime leading others and utilized this tactic from time to time and it is a lesson any aspiring leader would do well to emulate. Knowledge you reserve for yourself can be a very useful and sometimes powerful tool.