The Marine Corps Way – Leadership Philosophy

Leadership by Example
The Marine Corps’ approach to leadership rests on the simple premise that motivating Marines to achieve a desired result requires that the leader first exert the effort and make the sacrifice that he is asking of his Marines. A willingness to perform above and beyond the call of duty and share hardship – no matter how miserable or inconsequential the task – ripples throughout the entire organization, inspires higher levels of performance at all levels, and creates an undeniable credibility for the leader – through actions, not words.

Taking Care of Those in Your Charge

While probably not the first trait that comes to mind when thinking about an outfit whose members call themselves “Devil Dogs,” compassion is, nonetheless, the crucial second pillar in the Marine Corps’ leadership philosophy. Marine leaders prioritize the accomplishment of the mission first, the welfare of their Marines second, and their own personal needs third. A leader’s willingness to place the welfare of those in his charge before his own prompts others to: do the same for other members of the organization, take actions proactively that keep the leader “out of trouble,” and pledge their loyalty and unwavering willingness to follow.

Leadership Development

A never-ending commitment to recruiting, training, and mentoring develops, at all levels, confident, aggressive leaders whose initiative and integrity drive the implementation of the maneuver warfare-based approach. First, the Marines recruit for character, not skills. Second, formal leadership training led by the Marines’ most able performers begins with an initial “overinvestment” in instilling core values and leadership principles and continues throughout a Marine’s career. Third, two-way mentoring develops leaders at all levels: commanders mentor their subordinates, and experienced enlisted Marines mentor young officers. Feedback is clear, constructive, candid, and regular; guidance is specific, thoughtful, individually-tailored, and intended to help the recipient grow both personally and professionally.
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