Your Business and The 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits

These 14 Marine Corps leadership traits are taught to every Marine on the planet.  They are engrained in his or her very fiber.  I learned them at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), SanDiego back in 1983 and they have been part of who I am ever since.

These 14 leadership traits have served me well over the years as a leader and a business owner.  However, they are not reserved strictly for Marines.  Give them a good read and see just how they live out in your daily life as an entrepreneur.  May they serve you as well as they have served me…

Marines use an acronym to help commit these traits to memory : JJ DID TIE BUCKLE

Leadership Trait # 1. Justice – Justice is defined as the fair and impartial assignment of merited rewards and punishments.

As a business owner, it is imperative that you respond to the things that happen in your business from day to day.  If something needs correcting, correct it.  If something happens that is worthy of reward, reward it.  The key is to be swift and decisive and most of all be fair.


Leadership Trait 2. Judgment – Webster’s defines judgment as the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing.

An accurate review of the facts followed by a swift and accurate decision is always the goal.  That is sometimes easier said than done.  You won’t always be swift and you won’t always be right.  Stop, reflect and give any issue the due diligence that is appropriate.  Then make the call.

Judgement should reflect your morals, ethics and values.  Run everything through that filter and you will always find yourself in a position to make the right decision.

Leadership Trait #3. Dependability – Dependability means consistently putting forth your best effort in an attempt to achieve the highest standards of performance.

Always do what you say and say what you mean.  If you are consistent you will build trust with your team, your vendors and your customers.  Be a person of your word.

Leadership Trait #4. Initiative – Initiative is defined as acting independently from outside influences and control. It means meeting new and unexpected situations with right action. It includes using resourcefulness to get something done without the normal material or methods being available to you.

As a business leader you will have plenty of opportunity to demonstrate initiative.  There is an old saying: “If it is going to be, it is up to me”.  This applies here.  You must take action.

Showing initiative builds others trust and confidence in you as a leader.

Leadership Trait #5. Decisiveness – Decisiveness is defined as the power or quality to decide and take resolute action.

No one wants to follow a leader that can not make up his mind.  Business owners must make hundreds of decisions every day.  Don’t be one of those “deer in a headlight” types.  People around you need you to make decisions… make them and make them confidently.

Leadership Trait #6. Tact – Tact is defined as the keen sense of what to do and say in order to maintain good relations with others and to avoid offense.

Tact requires you to slow down and look at the big picture.  It’s much easier to just power through an issue.  The use of tact, however, will spare you the hassle of needing to go back and repair relationships and patch up hurt feelings.

Leadership Trait #7. Integrity – 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.

Your reputation as a business owner is golden.  If you can not maintain your integrity then there is no use in going any further.  Turn out the lights and lock the doors.  No one wants to deal with someone who lacks integrity.  Truthfulness and honesty should be the cornerstone that supports everything you do.


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 challenges.

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Leadership Trait #8. Enthusiasm – Enthusiasm is defined as a sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of your duties.

I’ll take enthusiasm over knowledge any day.  Enthusiasm is contagious and it is attractive.  People are drawn to enthusiasm.  If you are not in the mood to be enthusiastic… be enthusiastic anyway.

Leadership Trait #9. Bearing – Bearing is defined as the manner in which one bears or comports oneself. Your manner should reflect alertness, competence, confidence, and control.

As the leader of your business there is a time to let your hair down and a time to be strictly professional.  You need to know the difference and act accordingly.  Your bearing will always set the tone for those around you.

Leadership Trait #10. Unselfishness – Unselfishness is defined as the means by which you avoid making yourself comfortable at the expense of others.

If you are in business for “ME”, you will wake up some day soon and realize that you are “out of business”.  Your business is made up of many other people, even if your are a “one-man operation”.  Business requires customers, clients, patients, vendors, suppliers etc.  All of these others are part of your success or your failure, treat them as such.

Leadership Trait #11. Courage – Courage is defined as the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

If you have not had an opportunity to display courage yet, then you probably are in the WAY pre-start-up phase of your business.  If you do not have any fear, then you may need to take a closer look and determine if this business ownership thing is really for you.  If you really, really, really care about what you are doing, you will always have a fear of some type.

Self disciplined action will cure fear.  If you fear something, then there;s a pretty good chance that that thing is the thing you need to do.  Face the fear and do it now.

Leadership Trait #12. Knowledge – Knowledge is the understanding of a science or art.

As I mentioned earlier, I will take enthusiasm over knowledge.  Your customers will pay you well for your knowledge.  Always strive to be in learning mode.  Every day try to learn something that will improve you both personally and professionally.

Leadership Trait #13. Loyalty – Loyalty is the quality or state or an instance of being loyal or possessing fidelity.

Loyalty is the glue that holds your business together.  It is what makes your employees want to come to work every day.  Loyalty keeps your customers buying from you instead of your competition.  It is what endears you to those around you.  Loyalty is a common trust a devotion and a bond.

Leadership Trait #14. Endurance – Endurance is the mental and physical stamina that is measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship. It is the ability to withstand a prolonged stressful effort or activity.

The endurance of a business owner is constantly tested.  Your mental and physical endurance are critical to your ability to make it through another day, another project or the next sales call.  To get you over the hump, think of the bigger picture, think of the reason that you decided to start your business.

I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Please drop me a comment and let me know if any of these leadership traits have resonated with you, or share a personal story of an opportunity that you have had to exercise one or more of them…

Thanks for stopping by, Semper Fi and make it a GREAT day!!

Definition. Initiative is defined as acting independently from outside influences and control—taking action although no one has given you orders. It means meeting new and unexpected situations with right action. It includes using resourcefulness to get something done without the normal material or methods being available to you.

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