Learn From The Marine Corp Leadership Principles

I’ve always had a strong admiration for the United States Marine Corps. My father served during the Korean conflict, so our household was highly influenced by military leadership principles growing up. When I have read about the Marine Corps leadership principles in the past, I’ve noticed a huge overlap between the qualities of military leadership and the qualities we should expect from our business leaders. If you’re a manager, business owner, or an employee looking to advance in the workplace, here’s how these principles can help you succeed.

A photo of the Marine Corp flag in an article about Marine Corp leadership principles

What Are the 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits?

There’s an acronym that the Marines use to help them remember the 14 leadership traits they strive to exhibit: JJDIDTIEBUCKLE. It stands for justice, judgment, dependability, initiative, decisiveness, tact, integrity, endurance, bearing, unselfishness, courage, knowledge, loyalty, and enthusiasm. 

While the Marine Corps leadership principles can be useful to work towards in everyday life, they’re especially helpful in the workplace. Here are a few ways you can manifest these qualities in your leadership style, for the betterment of yourself and your team: 

  • Justice: The first of the Marine Corp’s leadership principles is justice. Know the rules, obey them, and enforce them fairly. This is the only way to maintain order without causing resentment. 
  • Judgment: Sound judgment is essential for employees at every rung of the ladder, but especially at the top. 
  • Dependability: Your team must be able to trust you. A leader must show up and do the work consistently to be taken seriously.
  • Initiative: Strong leaders take the initiative. If you wait around for someone else to act, you’ll always be a follower. 
  • Decisiveness: A leader must be able to make decisions. You’re steering the ship: your team needs to be able to trust that you know where you’re going. 
  • Tact: As a leader, you’re going to have to occasionally deliver bad news or unpleasant feedback. It’s crucial to handle these situations with tact, even when tensions are high. 
  • Integrity: This goes hand-in-hand with dependability, but a leader must be a good example. If you live a life of integrity, your team will trust you to make sound decisions. 
  • Endurance: It’s the job of the leader to keep going even when the situation is dire. Leading is tiring work, but you must persist. There are no time-outs in business. 
  • Bearing: Hold your head high and exude confidence. Your team will be able to detect your poise, both physical and proverbial. 
  • Unselfishness: Your team will only thrive if you are unselfish. Leaders must be generous with their time, patience, and resources. 
  • Courage: Leadership often requires difficult decisions and quick pivots when unforeseen obstacles arise. This requires more than a little bravery. 
  • Knowledge: To lead, you’ve got to know your stuff. You should be the absolute expert on your job, your team, and your company’s goals. 
  • Loyalty: A good leader must be loyal not only to the company but to their team, as well. 
  • Enthusiasm: The last of the Marine Corps leadership principles is one of the most important. If a leader is enthusiastic about the work that they do, the energy is contagious. The best way to boost team morale is to lead by example. 

These 14 Marine Corps leadership principles might have been designed to encourage excellence in our men and women in uniform, but they can (and should) be applied to anyone in a leadership role. If we strive for greatness in our place of work, we can create a healthy, productive corporate culture that can stand the test of time. 

Business leaders can learn a lot from the Marine Corps leadership principles, but incorporating them into your leadership style can be difficult. A business coach can help you make a seamless transition. Sign up for a complimentary coaching session, and let’s talk about how to implement elements of the Marine Corps leadership philosophy into your business.


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Dave Schoenbeck
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