Whether it’s leading your teams, volunteer organizations, corporate or not-for-profit boards, or even your sales prospects and customers, these 11 Leadership Principles that all US Marines are taught will set the stage for leadership and business success.
1. Be Technically And Tactically Proficient
For most business owners, being the expert at what you do is the easy part. It’s figuring out how to make a business out of it that stumps some of us. But make no mistake, you do need to be excellent at what you do. Just remember that delivering on your product or service is the bare minimum of what it takes to be successful in business.
You might also expand your definition of what you do to include some of the core business skills like leadership, communication, marketing, sales, and operations management.
2. Know Yourself And Seek Self-Improvement
Knowing what you’re good at is important. Knowing what you’re not good at is more important. And in either case, knowing what to improve upon versus delegating out to someone else will be your most valuable skill of all.
Self-awareness is something we often think we’re better at than we really are. Don’t be afraid to make an honest assessment of your skills and talents as well as your shortcomings and weaknesses.
In business, your ability to maximize your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses will position you to optimize your efforts and results.
3. Know Your Team And Look Out For Their Welfare
Setting your team up for success and making sure they’re taken care of is your greatest responsibility as a leader. People want to do a good job, feel like their work is important, and do work that has impact. As the leader, if you can provide those things, the benefit to you should be obvious.
Getting great people to do their best work and feel good about it will help you reach your goals faster than any incentive program or coercion techniques could ever deliver.
4. Keep Your Team Informed
From a customer service standpoint, people can be extremely patient as long as they know what to expect. The same goes for your team. As much as people need to know what is expected from them, they like to know why and what to expect. No one likes to get blindsided or kept in the dark.
Make sure your people know what the plan is, are kept in the loop on changes, and have a clear understanding of the long-term vision and mission.
5. Set The Example
“Do as I say, not as I do” is weak leadership. Respect is earned by demonstrating that you live by your own rules and are setting the standard for behavior and conduct.
As the leader, your team will inherit many of your patterns, habits, and characteristics. It all starts and ends with you. The behavior of your team is a reflection of your behavior. If you want to see improvements, start by improving yourself.
6. Ensure The Task Is Understood, Supervised, And Accomplished
Your people generally want to do a good job as much as you want them to do a good job. And it’s frequently just as frustrating for them when they can’t as it is for you. You need to make sure you’re doing your part to enable them to succeed by making sure they are clear about what is expected of them and that they have the knowledge, skills, and tools to complete the job.
Then you need to take responsibility for the results by ensuring the job is completed in accordance with established expectations.
One of the earliest lessons I learned in the Marine Corps was that just because you’re the one responsible for cleaning the head doesn’t mean you should be the one on your hands and knees scrubbing a toilet. But you better make sure someone is and they know how to do the job right.
7. Train Your People As A Team
Teamwork makes every individual better by allowing each person to focus on their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. As the leader, it’s your responsibility to make sure your people know how to do that for each other. This requires teaching and practicing teamwork.
The added benefit is that when your people are responsible for and accountable to each other, they will work harder not to let each other or you down and will work to keep the strays in line because of how it reflects on the entire team.
8. Make Sound And Timely Decisions
Decisiveness and good judgement are hallmarks of strong leaders.
Being seen as on top of things will inspire confidence and loyalty among your people.
9. Develop A Sense Of Responsibility In Your Team
The first step is in developing your people as a team, with a shared vision, mission, and expectations for behavior, conduct, and performance. As your team matures they will become vested in the results and start feeling responsibility to and taking responsibility for one another.
10. Employ Your Team In Accordance With Its Capabilities
There’s nothing more frustrating than asking someone to do something they can’t do. Make sure you understand the capabilities of your people so that you can manage effective training and support systems. This will allow you to position your people, and yourself, for maximum success.
11. Seek Responsibility And Take Responsibility For Your Actions
You can’t change what you aren’t responsible for. If you want better results or lower risk, find a way to take responsibility. You can’t be responsible for the behaviors and actions of others, but you can control who you depend on and how you handle situations that come up.
Use your good judgement to anticipate and have contingencies for as many potential pitfalls and roadblocks as possible.
If you found this useful, you won’t want to miss the 14 Leadership Traits from the USMC. These two lists set the solid foundation of Marine Corps leadership, and will also help you reach all your personal leadership and business goals.