Last week marked the eight year anniversary of my honorable discharge from the Marine Corps. It also marked the eight year anniversary of the start of my career in Commercial Real Estate.
My family also moved into a new home last week. It has been a while since we last moved. I feel like a bomb exploded in my new home. The important thing, however, is that my wife and I are both parking in the garage!
Today, I was organizing my closet. Hanging there next to my ties and dress shirts were my old Marine Corps uniforms. They caused me to think back 8+ years to my former life. So much of my life now is influenced by my enlisted years. Just as the old meets the new in my closet, so much of the USMC leadership traits apply to running a business.
There are 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits. You can remember them by the acronym JJ DID TIE BUCKLE: justice, judgment, decisiveness, integrity, dependability, tact, initiative, endurance, bearing, unselfishness, courage, knowledge, loyalty, and enthusiasm.
How the 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits Apply to You – and Me
- Justice – Think firm but fair. Everyone in your organization needs to know that the rules apply across the board. Massey-Knakal, the number one CRE firm in New York City, is a great example of this. Everyone has the same split. Remember Barry Bonds as a San Francisco Giant? He had a special recliner – a special trainer. The rules did not apply to him. The rules and expectations must apply justly to everyone. The alternative is a crumbling organization. How do you rate your organization?
- Judgment – Judgment is the ability to quickly make good decisions under duress. Everything in our experience is speeding up. You must have the ability to make good decisions with available and incomplete information. You will make the wrong call, but can you own it and lead through it?
- Decisiveness – The Marine Corps operates on the 70% rule. This states that decisive action based on 70% information is better than a slow decision based on complete information. Complete information, in my opinion, is a fallacy. It never happens. Speed kills. Your ability to out outmaneuver and out-flank your competition is dependent upon you being decisive and fast. I just hired a landscaper for the sole reason that he got back to me much quicker than his competition. Can this be said of your business?
- Integrity – My mentor was lamenting recently that integrity has come to mean that people do what they say. Is that not sad? Integrity is so much more than doing what you say. Integrity is absolute consistency – whether all eyes are on you or not. Integrity is the bedrock of a person’s character. It is what earns the respect of your team members and peers. Does this describe you?
- Dependability – I read somewhere that, “Marines develop solutions – not excuses!” This perfectly defines dependability. Can your clients depend on you to do what you were hired to do? Can your team members depend on you to be prepared and ready to exceed expectations on a task? I hear Dave Ramsey say all the time that a contractor who shows up on-time, every time, will never lack for work. How dependable would your clients say you are?
- Tact – Marines are misunderstood when it comes to tact. Tact is delivering a message in an appropriate way. In other words, how a message is communicated is as important as the message itself. My father-in-law was an outstanding coach. He had tremendous tact and the ability to read his players. He had players who responded to positive encouragement. He also had players who responded to a boot up the rear-end. He communicated with them accordingly. What about your clients? Do you pay enough attention to do the same?
- Initiative – Someone with initiative never needs to be told what to do. Initiative is always looking for ways to improve – customer-service, internal systems, etc. In my opinion, initiative is the single most effective way to get promoted – or get hired. Couple initiative with the practice of giving value upfront for free – unstoppable combination! Is initiative a core part of your company’s DNA?
Let me hear from you. Of these first 7 traits, which one describes your leadership the best? Which one could use the most improvement?