Expectations of Leaders

“Credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena” Theodore Roosevelt



Much of the list below comes from the Marine Corps Leadership Principles which were foundational for me as a young Lieutenant. I added to the list along the way through my own success, failures and observations. There are many similar lists out there. The particular lists themselves are less important than the standards they set and our commitment to execute on the principles every day. I will expound on many of these individually in future posts:

1. You are the “Captain of the Ship” – responsible for everything that happens or fails to happen with your team

2. Set the example

3 Know yourself, be yourself, but seek self-improvement

4. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions

5. Make sound and timely decisions – the good plan well executed will beat the perfect plan never implemented every time

6. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Own them, learn from them, and strive to make different ones each day

7. Never shoot the messenger – bad news doesn’t get better over time and you can’t fix it if you don’t know about it

8. You have to want to lead. There are folks who like having the title and perks but not actually doing the job

9. Be present. Your people need to see you, and not just when something goes wrong

10. Know your people. They have to know you care about them as people. Look out for their welfare

11. Push your people, make them better. People want to play for a winning team with high standards

12. Maintain a professional distance. You are not your people’s friend, you’re their leader. Show me a team who has a friend for a leader and I’ll show you a mediocre team

13. To lead, you have to love people in all their wonderful, idiosyncratic, and sometimes maddening ways

14. Hold your people accountable. However, holding people accountable does not mean crushing their souls

15. Your people need honest and blunt feedback from you. Remember, the goal is always to help them reach their potential

16. Avoid favoritism. Many of us have been promoted from within the ranks of our organizations. Some of us have longtime friends who now work for us. People will watch how we treat our friends from “back in the day.” We do our friends no favors by being easy on them. People will assume that every good thing that happens to our friends is because of their friendship with us rather than because of their own merits

17. Don’t avoid problems or otherwise turn a blind-eye to them. If we do, our people will eventually conclude that we as leaders are either clueless or gutless. We can afford to be neither

18. Have fun. The opportunity to lead people is the most rewarding thing you will do in your career


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