Gunnery Sergeant Darnell E. Patton, USMC
Leadership comes in many different shapes and forms. As
leadership comes in different shapes and forms, so does leadership philosophies.
There are people from all walks of life who have their own philosophy on
leadership. Who's to say which is right and which is wrong? But if you expand
your mind and allow your leadership to grow, you will benefit any organization.
Followers expect leaders to show them the standard and train
them to reach it. They expect leaders to lead by example. Additionally, they
expect leaders to keep them informed and take care of them. Being a leader will
require you to ask others to make extraordinary sacrifices to achieve goals.
Leaders may have to call on them to do things that seem impossible. However, "If
leaders have trained their people to standard, inspired their willingness, and
consistently looked after their interests, they will be prepared to accomplish
any goal, anytime, anywhere" (Reeves, 2004).
Leadership philosophies are based on opinions and experiences
of an individual, which is why philosophies may not necessarily coincide even
though you may have the same common goal. The best thing about leadership is
that it will always evolve if you expand your mind. What maybe your leadership
philosophy today may not necessarily be your leadership philosophy tomorrow.
Many of my philosophies were influenced by traits that are
used by the U. S. Marine Corps and standard maxims, which will work well in any
organization and some of them are: justice, judgment, dependability, initiative,
decisiveness, integrity, enthusiasm, loyalty, and courage just to name a few.
Another important skill that must be implemented for all of this to work is
Justice teaches you to be fair and consistent. No one can
ever say that you are showing favoritism. Using judgment gives you the ability
to think about things thoroughly and rationally. Good judgment leads to sound
decisions, and sound decisions leads to better quality.
Dependability "is the willing and voluntary support of the
policies and orders of the chain of command" (Wright, 1984/2002). You must show
that you are dependable, and it is needed because it shows you can be relied
upon to your superiors as well as your employees. It means you can be trusted to
complete your job. It also means that you will be trusted by your employees,
which will build a better rapport and enhance communications between you and
Initiative runs hand in hand with dependability. Showing
initiative means doing something before you were instructed to. It shows you are
dependable and can think ahead and look at the big picture instead of what's in
front of you.
A decisive person shows they have the ability to make good
decisions without hesitation. It allows you to get the facts, analyze them and
come to the best possible decision while maintaining a high level or
Showing enthusiasm shows a sincere interest and enthusiasm in
the performance of your duties. It will make your employees more enthusiastic
and motivated about their work, which will lead to better productivity and
Having loyalty shows you are devoted to your organization,
seniors, peers, and subordinates. You have a sense of responsibility to everyone
who is involved in the organization. You are loyal enough to know if things
begin to get unethical, you know how to separate yourself from it, and continue
to do the right thing.
Integrity is one of the most important traits within my
leadership philosophy. People can take many things from you, but integrity is
something you can only give away. It shows that you are truthful and a person of
your word. When integrity is consistently applied, it will build good morals and
ethics within any organization.
The most vital leadership trait is courage. Courage is the
foundation on which all things start. Having these other traits are pointless if
you don't have the courage to apply them. Without the courage to succeed and the
courage to stand up for what you believe, you should not be placed in any
leadership position, because you lack what it takes to be a leader. And if you
lack what it takes to lead who will follow?
Applied knowledge is the understanding of a science or art
and applying it. Knowledge means you have acquired information and you
understand people, emotions, and actions. Applying knowledge means you will take
acquired information and share it with your employees to make them better,
mentally stronger, and more eager to learn.
To support my leadership philosophy, I have maxims that I
follow, which are known to the U. S. Marine Corps as leadership principles. One
of my maxims is to know myself and seek self improvement. This is done by
working to improve my weaknesses and utilizing my strengths based on thoughts
and experiences. I also must be technically and tactically proficient. Before I
can lead, I must be able to do the job. If I can't do the job, I can't set the
example. Albert Einstein said it best, "Setting an example is not the main means
of influencing another, it is the only means." Lastly, I must know my employees
and look out for their welfare. As a leader, I am responsible for my employees
welfare and well-being. Their welfare must come before my own. To put yourself
before your employees is to show disrespect towards them and the organization,
which will ultimately lead to destruction.
Many leaders' leadership philosophies are very different, but
in any attempt to lead, you have to have a philosophy. You may read many
articles on leadership, attend leadership seminars, or even take leadership
classes that offer many different philosophies on leadership. However, I am not
trying to change your philosophy on leadership I am just trying to expand your
About the Author
Darnell E. Patton is currently an active duty Marine. He has held many
management and leadership positions, to include an infantry platoon sergeant,
the legendary Marine Drill Instructor and Drill Instructor, Instructor. He has a
BS in Management, a BS in Finance, and his MBA with specialization in Human
Resources. He can be reached at
Reeves, R. (2004). Changing Your Style. In Leadership. . Retrieved March 13,
2006, from United States Marine Corps Web site: www.usmc.mil
Wright, J. (2002). NCO Handbook [Book for Marines]. Atlanta, GA: Prentice Hall.
(Original work published 1984)