Leadership Traits: JJ DID TIE BUCKLE
The United States Marine Corps is one of the most prestigious units of the American Armed Forces. Founded in 1775, its unique capability is to act as a task force in any situation in the world within days. Its most notable achievements were in the Pacific theatre of World War II, in particular, the battles of Guam, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. The Marine Corps has a distinct identity within the US military as one of the best-led organisations with high esprit de corps. One of the reasons for this is its focus on leadership training and its adoption of 14 leadership traits that, for those who have been through the Marine Corps training, will always be known by the acronym, JJ DID TIE BUCKLE. This is what the 14 letters of the acronym stand for.
1. Justice: Justice means two things: being fair to others and being seen to be fair. When you are fair, people feel they are treated kindly. Cicero said, "Justice consists in doing no injury to men; decency in giving them no offense."
2. Judgement: Judgment is being able to effectively weigh up situations and understand the effect your decisions will have on others. It's also known as common sense, the most important quality to have in your team. John Gardner said, "When hiring key employees, there are only two qualities to look for: judgement and taste. Almost everything else can be bought by the yard."
3. Dependability: Dependability is pretty self-explanatory. It means being someone that others can trust to be there when needed and offer support and friendship. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile. It’s the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him with his friendship."
4. Initiative: Initiative is the tendency not to wait for someone else to tell you what to do but to see what needs done and get on and do it. Soichiro Honda said, "The most important thing is the respect for people within the corporation and so it is incumbent on the managers to create an environment within a corporation in which all employees are encouraged to take initiatives in carrying out the work and doing the work with pleasure."
5. Decisiveness: Decisiveness means coming to a decision quickly and timeously. It is a quality that everyone can develop. Ed Lawler said, "Employees are most motivated to make a business successful when they understand and have ongoing information about it, have the power to make decisions and are rewarded according to its success."
6. Tact: Tact is a skill that enables you to work with others without causing conflict. Joshua Gilbert Holland said, "The secret of man's success resides in his insight into the moods of people, and his tact in dealing with them."
7. Integrity: Integrity means living according to a set of rules, values and principles that underlie what we do, what we say and who we are. John Akers said, "Set your expectations high; find men and women whose integrity and values you respect; get their agreement on a course of action; and give them your ultimate trust."
8. Enthusiasm: Enthusiasm is about having a positive can-do attitude that draws others to you and your plans. Stanley Baldwin said, "Fires can't be made with dead embers, nor can enthusiasm be stirred by spiritless men. Enthusiasm in our daily work lightens effort and turns labour into pleasant tasks."
9. Bearing: Bearing is the manner in which you conduct and control yourself. It is your appearance, your posture and your manner that reflects self-confidence and self-control. Marie Curie said, "Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained."
10. Unselfishness: Unselfishness means putting the needs of others first. Lao Tzu said, "One who is skilful in using men puts himself below them. This is called the virtue of non-competing. This is called the strength to use men. This is called matching Heaven. The highest principle of old."
11. Courage: Courage is one of the key qualities of leadership. It enables you to accept challenges and responsibility in the face of difficulties and see things through. Walt Disney said, "Courage is the main quality of leadership, in my opinion: courage to initiate something and keep it going - pioneering an adventurous spirit to blaze new ways."
12. Knowledge: Knowledge enables leaders to have the experience, training and information necessary to see any operation to a successful end. Admiral Arleigh Burke said, "Leadership is understanding people and involving them to help you do a job. That takes all of the good characteristics, like integrity, dedication of purpose, selflessness, knowledge, skill, implacability, as well as determination not to accept failure."
13. Loyalty: Loyalty is a precious trait of leadership, not just towards your team but to those above you. Grace Murray Hopper said, “Leadership is a two-way street, loyalty up and loyalty down. Respect for one's superiors; care for one's crew.”
14. Endurance: Endurance means keeping going when all around you give up. It means seeing the job through to the end. The Buddha said, "Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes."
These 14 traits are as valid for the leaders of the US Marine Corps as they are for leaders in any other enterprise whether big or small, public or private, money-making or not-for-profit. That's because they are traits which are in everyone of us and why true leadership is not about accidents of birth or being lucky but about demonstrating qualities that inspire others to achieve the best they can.
These traits are so essential that some organizational leadership masters degree programs have incorporated them into their coursework for their leadership case studies.