Friday, May 20, 2011

The Marine Corps' 14 leadership traits - COURAGE

COURAGE is next up on our list of Marine Corps leadership traits, and it's defined as, "... what allows you to remain calm while recognizing fear. Moral courage means having the inner strength to stand up for what is right and to accept blame when something is your fault. Physical courage means that you can continue to function effectively when there is physical danger present."

Let's take a look at the first part of that definition - moral COURAGE. This is basically the ability to listen and follow that little voice inside that tells us what's right and wrong. Many people used to call this the "conscience", but a quick look at news from across the country (or close to home like this story about two youths who beat and burned a small dog here in Milwaukee) should reveal the "conscience" is slowly evolving out of existence.

But moral COURAGE is also much more than just listening to your inner self tell you something's wrong. Moral COURAGE is being able to stand up and tell someone else what they're doing or about to do is wrong. This can be extremely difficult when that someone is a boss or someone in a position of power over you. Those who "suck up" to their bosses will most likely never exhibit the "balls" necessary to tell someone above them when they're wrong. That's not to say everyone should always tell their boss they're wrong.

All of us have a boss, and the way I see it, all of us have a responsibility to be some kind of check and balance to our boss. If we see something is wrong, we must bring it up.

Physical COURAGE, to me, is pretty straightforward in appearance. When bullets start flying, can you continue being effective? It's hard to tell until you've been there, and thankfully, I still don't have that answer about myself. I've tested myself in training environments - and I've come out pretty well - but I've never had to put that training to the ultimate test.

A training environment seems to be the best way to develop physical COURAGE and then test it. In a setting like this, mistakes can be made and corrected without putting anyone's life in danger, and hopefully, all parties involved come out better for it.

The Marine Corps has some great training that helps develop physical as well as moral COURAGE, and it all begins in recruit training.

But it doesn't end there; Marines are continually trained on this, and they're continually expected to exhibit COURAGE, both moral and physical. This COURAGE is what allows Marines like Sgt Peralta to do heroic deeds, and it allows countless Marines every day to do the right thing, especially when no one is looking.

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