Is anyone leading today?
It is time that we quit following the herd. Each of us is a leader within our own sphere of influence, be it family, friends or professionally. Everyday we make decisions based on guiding principles that we learned from our family, in childhood, or as we grew. We have created and implemented the moral code that is uniquely our own. For some, this is a loose standard. Others have an unwavering set of principles to which they are bound.
Can you easily identify the moral and ethical code, and standard of conduct that guides your decision-making process?
It has been said that great leaders are born in the crucible of chaos and challenge. Those leaders that rose to the challenge and met it with excellence, courage and grace learned both in the moment and from it. They learned about themselves and their capabilities, as well as lessons learned from which they would grow.
It is this framework of understanding that is important to each of us. We are all capable of becoming a great leader within our own sphere of influence, but one must first define our guideposts. I have found that difficult decisions are made easily and swiftly when my principles are clear.
The United States Marine Corps has done an excellent job at developing their 14 Marine Corps leadership traits and instilling these into every young Marine.
These leadership traits, however, are not just for the military. Each of these can be applied to one’s personal and professional life and see profound change nearly immediately. The traits represent elements of both thought and action.
When demonstrated in daily activities, these leadership traits will help to earn the respect, confidence, and loyal cooperation of those around you. By understanding these traits, you can develop each skill that is required of each of us to be an integral part of a high-performing team. Whether that team is comprised of just you, your family or in your professional environment, developing these skills will improve every aspect of your personal and professional life.
The Marine Corps recognizes an acronym to help remember the 14 Marine Corp leadership traits: JJ DID TIE BUCKLE. Each letter represents one leadership trait. On a daily basis, and with each interaction or event, you can do a cross-check of how you performed within this framework.
Definition: Justice is defined as the practice of being fair and consistent. A just person gives consideration to each side of a situation and bases rewards or punishments on merit.
Suggestions for Improvement: Be honest with yourself about why you make a particular decision. Avoid favoritism. Try to be fair at all times and treat all things and people in an equal manner.
Definition: Judgment is your ability to think about things clearly, calmly, and in an orderly fashion so that you can make good decisions.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can improve your judgment if you avoid making rash decisions. Approach problems with a common sense attitude.
Definition: Dependability means that you can be relied upon to perform your duties properly. It means that you can be trusted to complete a job. It is the willing and voluntary support of the policies and orders of the chain of command. Dependability also means consistently putting forth your best effort in an attempt to achieve the highest standards of performance.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can increase your dependability by forming the habit of being where you’re supposed to be on time, by not making excuses and by carrying out every task to the best of your ability regardless of whether you like it or agree with it.
Definition: Initiative is taking action even though you haven’t been given orders. It means meeting new and unexpected situations with prompt action. It includes using resourcefulness to get something done without the normal material or methods being available to you.
Suggestions for Improvement: To improve your initiative, work on staying mentally and physically alert. Be aware of things that need to be done and then to do them without having to be told.
Definition: Decisiveness means that you are able to make good decisions without delay. Get all the facts and weight them against each other. By acting calmly and quickly, you should arrive at a sound decision. You announce your decisions in a clear, firm, professional manner.
Suggestions for Improvement: Practice being positive in your actions instead of acting half-heartedly or changing your mind on an issue.
Definition: Tact means that you can deal with people in a manner that will maintain good relations and avoid problems. It means that you are polite, calm, and firm.
Suggestions for Improvement: Begin to develop your tact by trying to be courteous and cheerful at all times. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
Definition: Integrity means that you are honest and truthful in what you say or do. You put honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles above all else.
Suggestions for Improvement: Be absolutely honest and truthful at all times. Stand up for what you believe to be right.
Definition: Enthusiasm is defined as a sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of your duties. If you are enthusiastic, you are optimistic, cheerful, and willing to accept the challenges.
Suggestions for Improvement: Understanding and belief in your mission will add to your enthusiasm for your job. Try to understand why even uninteresting jobs must be done.
Definition: Bearing is the way you conduct and carry yourself. Your manner should reflect alertness, competence, confidence, and control.
Suggestions for Improvement: To develop bearing, you should hold yourself to the highest standards of personal conduct. Never be content with meeting only the minimum requirements.
Definition: Unselfishness means that you avoid making yourself comfortable at the expense of others. Be considerate of others. Give credit to those who deserve it.
Suggestions for Improvement: Avoid using your position or rank for personal gain, safety, or pleasure at the expensive of others. Be considerate of others.
Definition: Courage is what allows you to remain calm while recognizing fear. Moral courage means having the inner strength to stand up for what is right and to accept blame when something is your fault. Physical courage means that you can continue to function effectively when there is physical danger present.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can begin to control fear by practicing self-discipline and calmness. If you fear doing certain things required in your daily life, force yourself to do them until you can control your reaction.
Definition: Knowledge is the understanding of a science or art. Knowledge means that you have acquired information and that you understand people. Your knowledge should be broad, and in addition to knowing your job, you should know your unit’s policies and keep up with current events.
Suggestions for Improvement: Suggestions for Improvement: Increase your knowledge by remaining alert. Listen, observe, and find out about things you don’t understand. Study field manuals and other military literature.
Definition: Loyalty means that you are devoted to your country, the Corps, and to your seniors, peers, and subordinates. The motto of our Corps is Semper Fidelis!, (Always Faithful). You owe unwavering loyalty up and down the chain of command, to seniors, subordinates, and peers.
Suggestions for Improvement: To improve your loyalty you should show your loyalty by never discussing the problems of the Marine Corps or your unit with outsiders. Never talk about seniors unfavorably in front of your subordinates. Once a decision is made and the order is given to execute it, carry out that order willingly as if it were your own.
Definition: Endurance is the mental and physical stamina that is measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship. For example, enduring pain during a conditioning march in order to improve stamina is crucial in the development of leadership.
Suggestions for Improvement: Develop your endurance by engaging in physical training that will strengthen your body.
Finish every task to the best of your ability by forcing yourself to continue when you are physically tired and your mind is sluggish.
Question: Have you defined the leadership principles that guide your decision-making process?