Marine Corps Leadership Traits

Leadership principles develop over time, as do the Marines’ leadership traits. While it is important to embrace the leadership principles, it is equally important to develop good leadership traits.

1. Justice

To be just is to act fairly and consistently to all parties. If you want to be an effective leader, you must accept responsibility for your actions (both good and bad). Rewards and punishments must be just and in accordance with established rules.

2. Judgment

Make informed and timely decisions. Sound judgment allows a leader to make appropriate decisions in the guidance, training, and employment of his Marines.

3. Dependability

A good leader is always dependable. A leader who is dependable gives his Marines
confidence in his abilities to make the right decisions.

4. Initiative

The initiative is taking action in the absence of orders. Marines must understand their Commander’s Intent and use it to make appropriate decisions in the absence of direct guidance or supervision.

5. Decisiveness

The ability to make decisions promptly and to announce them in a clear, forceful manner. A prompt decision demonstrates a confident leader; a confident leader instills confidence in his Marines.

6. Tact

The ability to deal with others in a manner that will maintain good relations and avoid offense. More simply stated, tact is the ability to say and do the right thing at
the right time. Consistently treating peers, seniors, and subordinates with respect and courtesy is a sign of maturity and is conducive to mission accomplishment.

7. Integrity

There is no substitute for personal and professional integrity. Be upright in character and in the soundness of moral principles. Be truthful, honest, and always do the right thing — especially when no one is looking.

8. Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is an often overlooked trait, but it is vital to a good leader. Enthusiasm shows you are looking forward to the mission accomplishment of any assigned task. Your team will know if you are passionate about your cause, and they will, in turn, be more enthusiastic as well. Enthusiasm shows that you care; it helps drive your force of will.

9. Bearing

Create and maintain a favorable impression by your carriage, your personal appearance, and in your personal conduct. Bearing bestows a Marine with the ability to conduct himself as a leader and a professional that others will respect.

10. Unselfishness

Unselfishness is the quality of looking out for the needs of your subordinates before your own; it is the essence of leadership.

11. Courage

The moral, mental, and physical strength to do what is right, to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct, and to make tough decisions under pressure. Marine leaders must know and stand for what is right, even in the face of popular disfavor. Marine leaders are expected to demonstrate physical and moral courage in training and on the battlefield.

12. Knowledge

Be tactically and technically proficient; know your job and the jobs of all team members. A leader must be well informed; he must at least know as much as any of his subordinates. It is impossible to make good decisions, timely decisions, without knowledge.

13. Loyalty

A leader expresses loyalty to his subordinates by supporting their needs and ensuring their welfare in a number of ways. Subordinates express loyalty by positively and efficiently carrying out the leader’s orders. The quality of faithfulness to God, country, and Corps, one’s unit, and to seniors, subordinates, and peers.

14. Endurance

Marines never quit. Endurance is the mental and physical stamina needed to withstand pain, fatigue, mental stress, and hardship.