Have you ever heard of a German military leader who celebrated, even rewarded laziness? What a preposterous question, you must be thinking. Given the overwhelming industriousness of the entire Germanic population since the beginning of time, it seems impossible there could be such a leader. Yet, there was. He is an anomaly, to be sure, but he definitely existed. And he was important. He was General Helmuth von Moltke who served as chief of the German General Staff from 1858 to 1888. Under his leadership the German military became the model for all modern armies.
General von Moltke divided the entire officer corps into four distinct types, depending on their mental and physical characteristics: 1) mentally dull and physically lazy, 2) mentally bright and physically energetic, 3) mentally dull and physically energetic, and 4) bright and lazy.
The officers who were both mentally dull and physically lazy were given simple, repetitive, unchallenging tasks.
The officers who were both mentally bright and physically energetic, Von Moltke felt were obsessed with micromanagement and accordingly would be poor leaders. Therefore, he never promoted this type of officer to the status of commanding officer of the German General Staff.
The officers who were mentally dull but physically energetic, Von Moltke considered dangerous. To him, they were walking, talking mistake generators that required constant supervision. Because they created messes faster than could be fixed, these officers were too much trouble and were dismissed.
The mentally bright yet physically lazy officer, our hero, is the type of person Von Moltke felt should ascend to the lofty heights of ultimate command. Why? Because he is smart enough to see what needs to be done but is also motivated by laziness to find the easiest, simplest way to succeed. And, of course, such an officer would never sully his hands with details, vastly preferring to delegate those concerns to the eager beaver types.