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Principals and Traits of Marine Corps Leadership

It's the most basic tenant of the Marine Corps that every Marine is a leader, regardless of his rank. The 11 principals and 14 traits listed below are learned by every Marine. We strive to live by these every day and to embody the ideals which they establish. These are the heart and soul of a Marine.


1. Know yourself and seek self improvement.

2. Be technically and tactically proficient.

3. Seek responsibility for your actions.

4. Make sound and timely decisions.

5. Set the example.

6. Know your troops and look out for their welfare.

7. Keep your troops informed.

8. Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates.

9. Ensure the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished.

10. Train your troops as a team.

11. Employ your command in accordance with its capabilities.


1. BEARING: creating a favorable impression in carriage, appearance, and personal conduct at all times.

2. COURAGE: the mental quality that recognizes fear of danger or criticism, but enables a man to proceed in the face of it with calmness and firmness.

3. DECISIVENESS: the ability to make decisions promptly and to announce them in a clear, forceful manner.

4. DEPENDABILITY: the certainty of proper performance of duty.

5. ENDURANCE: mental and physical stamina measured by the ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship.

6. ENTHUSIASM: the display of sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of duty.

7. INITIATIVE: taking action in the absence of orders.

8. INTEGRITY: uprightness and soundness of moral principles; the quality of truthfullness and honesty.

9. JUDGEMENT: ability to weigh facts and possible solutions on which to base sound decisions.

10. JUSTICE: giving reward and punishment according to the merits of the case in question: the ability to administer a system of rewards and punishment impartially.

11. KNOWLEDGE: understanding of a science or art; the range of one's information.

12. LOYALTY: the quality of faithfulness to country, the service, the unit, one's seniors, and one's subordinates.

13. TACT: the ability to deal with others with respect.

14. UNSELFISHNESS: avoidance of providing for one's own comfort and personal advancement at the expense of others.

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