Leadership Lessons from the Marine Corps

Angie leaning against a wall in her military uniform

“We’re going to break it down, Barney Style.” 

This was what our Marine Corps instructors would say when the School of Hard Knox was in session. And, like the adorable purple dinosaur teaching toddlers step-by-step lessons, our instructors would painstakingly review easy-to-implement guidance on a range of skills, like:

  • Assembling and disassembling weapons
  • Learning how to march and perform rifle drills
  • Basic troop leadership

Yes, that last one!! Leadership can seem like such a heady topic, but our instructors did an amazing job breaking it down into actionable steps.

These lessons have impacted every leadership role I’ve held in my life – from being a mom to being a CEO.  

You don’t need to serve in the Marines to learn these lessons – take these ideas and put them into practice in your world.

Here are my Top 10 Favorite Leadership Lessons:

  1. Don’t run…unless, of course, you’re being shot at. When you’re in a rush and/or acting hurried, you make others nervous. Set the right tone, the right pace, for how you want others to engage. 
  2. Eat last. If lunch is served, let everyone get to the front of the line. Show others, through your selflessness, that their needs are your priority. (Remember Simon Sinek’s book, Leaders Eat Last – yeah, he borrowed that straight from the Marine Corps.)
  3. Don’t chew gum, or put your hands in your pockets. When you’re in front of people, don’t look casual. Look like you’re in charge.
  4. Save the drama for your mama. If you spill drama, you undermine your credibility. What’s drama? Unnecessary information. You know you engage in drama when you repeat a story about someone else more than twice.
  5. Shine your shoes, mind your gig line. It’s the little things. Look like you care!
  6. Rehearse. If you feel uncertain about an event, take the time to walk through it – rehearse until you feel that what you’re about to do is second nature.
  7. Lead by Example. You preach a better sermon by your actions than your words.
  8. Don’t Cry Over Something That Won’t Cry Over You. Sage advice…on the battlefield, in the boardroom, and in the dating world. Don’t worry, tears aren’t all that bad…learn when it’s okay!
  9. Sweat dries, blood clots, wounds heal…suck it up. What you’re going through, get through. You’re going to be stronger as a result! So, go on – embrace the suck!
  10. You’re responsible for all you do…and all you fail to do. 100% accountability, which is different than responsibility. If you see it, you can own it. If you own it, you can do something about it. Remember: Leadership is a verb.

I’d love to hear your leadership lessons – please pass them along!! Email me here.

All my best,

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