In 1942 the United States Marine Corps published Thou Shalt Not! Hints to Newly Commissioned Officers, a small handbook for junior officers. It contains some truly great leadership aphorisms. Reading through it you notice qualities sorely lacking from today’s “leadership” learning – among them, seemliness and propriety. Though many of the rules may seem prudish and stuffy to us today, it bears considering that these were the guidelines for the men who led the combat operations which won the Pacific theater in some of the bloodiest battles in American history. We plan to post one a week. Enjoy!
1. DON’T neglect the comfort and general welfare of your subordinates. This is your first duty.”
This one is all about your duty to others. Take care of your people and they will take care of the mission. A leader’s first and most important duty is to those under his charge. There is a long standing cultural expectation in our military that a leader should never eat before his troops have eaten. This is about building a culture of service – not setting a dining schedule. This principle is as applicable to an infantry platoon leader as it is to a Fortune 500 CEO. Ignore it at your peril.