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...founded to promote the mental, moral and
physical development of young Americans.

Young Marines Leadership Character Traits

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The stakes of today are far too high to gamble on the leadership of a dishonest man. You demonstrate integrity when you tell the truth to your superiors and your troops. Always use your authority to work for the benefit of your troops, accomplish your mission, NEVER for your own personal gain.


Would you accept a report from a squad leader who you know lies? Of course you wouldnít. Make sure your official and unofficial statements to your troops are plain, unadorned facts. When you give your word, always keep it. A lot of people depending on you to "come through with the goods".

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Know your job and your equipment. Master the techniques of this GUIDEBOOK as well as your training material. Be able to pass that knowledge on to your troops. You canít bluff them. Young Marines are experts at spotting a fake. If you donít know the answer to a question, admit it, then find out. Your most important knowledge is to know your troops. Learn the caliber of performance to expect from each of them. Put confidence in those you can. Give closer supervision to those who need it.

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There are two kinds - physical and moral. Courage is demonstrated by taking risks, acting calmly and firmly in stressful situations, STANDING UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT, REGARDLESS OF WHAT OTHERS MIGHT THINK, and accepting responsibility for your mistakes.


If you are in a tight place and feel fear, recognize it. Then get control over it and make it work for you. Fear stimulates the body processes. When you are scared you can actually work harder and for a longer time. Donít let a little fear make you panic. Keep busy, fix your mind on your troops and your mission. Courage grows with action. When things are really tough, take action, donít worry if they go wrong. Positive action on a poor decision is far better than a half-hearted attempt on the best possible one.


As for moral courage, know whatís right and stand up for it. Young Marines are not saints by any means. But they do serve God, Country, and Corps. The Ten Commandments are still a good set of regulations. After all they havenít had a change published for thousands of years.


A Young Marine with the morals of an alley cat will never command the respect or loyalty of other Young Marines. When youíre wrong, admit it. Donít try to weasel out of mistakes. Everybody makes a mistake now and then. The trick is not to make the same one twice. When a job is left undone, the true leader doesnít harp, "Sir, I told those people...".
A leader fixes the breakdown, not the blame.

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Decisiveness is demonstrated by studying different choices and then selecting the best one. It is also knowing when NOT to make a decision. Get the facts, all of them. Make your mind up when youíve weighed them. Then issue your order in clear, confident terms. Donít haggle over minor points. Donít confuse your troops by debating with yourself out loud. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Make up your mind in time to prevent the problem from becoming bigger. Donít go off while still at the "half-cock" position.


If the decision is beyond the scope of your authority, take the problem up the chain of command to the person who has the job to make that decision. But if the decision is yours, make it. Donít pass the buck.

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In the Young Marines, the welfare of the troops comes first, then the mission. A dependable noncom- missioned officer is a solid citizen. They are always on time, never make excuses and stay hot on the job until itís done. They are on board when needed and out of the way when not. Duty demands they make personal sacrifices. They know what has to be done. They know where their duty lies. All of this means that their country, Corps, and troops get dependability.

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Initiative is demonstrated by you taking action when something needs doing. This is done even if a superior is not around to order it. Think ahead, stay mentally alert and physically awake. Look around, if you see a job that needs doing, donít wait to be told, do it. If the deck is full of trash, organize a clean up detail and get the place squared away. Donít wait for an NCO to come around. You can always improve the situation of your troops. Do what you can, use the means at hand, think ahead and youíll stay ahead.

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Doing and especially saying the right thing is what we mean by tact. It embraces courtesy, but goes much further. Itís the Golden Rule, being considerate of others. Courtesy is more than saluting and saying "Sir." Nor does it mean you meekly ask your troops to do a job. You can give orders in a courteous manner and still leave no doubt, you expect to be obeyed.


A tactful leader is fair, firm and friendly. You respect another personís property. Learn to respect their feelings as well. If a Young Marine needs stem counseling then do it. But be sure to do it in private. Donít make a spectacle of them or yourself in public. On the other hand when they do a good job let their friends hear about it. That way they become a bigger person in their own eyes and you in theirs.


There are times when a severe "dressing down" of one person or a group may be required. This is tactful if itís the right thing at the right time. When dealing with seniors apply the Golden Rule. Treat them the way youíd want to be approached if you were in their position. A Young Marines NCO coddles no one. Use tact with your seniors. Remember, nobody likes an "ear banger." Make a few mental notes when you find something wrong. When you get your feet on the ground, make the changes you have the authority to. You might be surprised how little really needs changing. Besides, youíll learn another way of getting the job done.

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Justice is demonstrated by applying fair, consistent rewards and punishments to your troops. Young Marines rate a square-shooting leader, be one. Never play favorites. Spread your working parties around on an equal basis. Keep anger and emotion out of your decisions. Get rid of narrow views you have against a particular race, creed, or section of the country. Judge a person by what kind of Young Marines they are, nothing else. Donít let your troops be overlooked when rations are distributed.


Give each of your Young Marines an equal chance to prove themselves. Help those who fall short of your standards, but keep your standards high.

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Enthusiasm is demonstrated by constantly communicating a positive attitude of the Young Marines program to your troops. Itís a fact that the more you know about something, the greater your interest and enthusiasm. Show it. Others will follow your lead. Enthusiasm is more con- tagious than measles. Set a goal for your unit, then put out all youíve got toward achieving that goal. This is particularly true in training.


Young Marines are at their best when they are in the field. When an instructor is enthused about what they are teaching the troops will learn. Show your knowledge and enthusiasm about a subject, your troops will want that same knowledge. When you show your dislikes and gripes youíll still be leading, but in the wrong direction. The choice is yours, make it the right one.


Donít let yourself get stale. "Take your pack off" is good advice. Do it once in a while. If you find yourself constantly dealing with the same problem, find a new way to approach the issue.

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Bearing is demonstrated by setting and maintaining high standards of appearance and posture. Remember your DI? His brass glittered at every move. Your DI didnít walk, he marched. He taught you to do the same. He knew that at the same time he was inspecting a platoon of 70 recruits, that platoon had 70 pairs of eyes inspecting him. Consequently, he had bearing. You learned a uniform is more than a mere suit of clothes. You wear a suit, but you believe in a uniform. Therefore, you maintain it all the time. Every stripe and every ribbon was earned by a Young Marine. None were handed out like an early chow pass. You earned your uniform and everything on it. Wear it with pride.


Thatís part of what is meant by bearing. The rest of it is how you conduct yourself verbally and emo- tionally in or Out of uniform. Learn to control your voice and gestures. A calm voice and steady hand are confidence builders. Donít show concern over a dangerous situation, even if you feel it.


Speak plainly and simply. You are more interested in being understood than showing off your vocabu- lary. If you rant and rave, lose control of your emotions, youíll lose control of your troops. Swearing at subordinates is wrong and unfair. They canít swear back. Itís also stupid. When you do, you admit your lack of ability to express displeasure in any productive way. Donít lose your temper. Master yourself before you try to master others.


Sarcasm seldom gets results. Wisecrack to Young Marines - theyíve been around - theyíll wisecrack back. Make a joke out of orders and theyíll think you donít mean what you say. This doesnít mean to avoid joking. At the right time a good joke is like good medicine, especially when the chips are down. As a matter of fact, it is often the Young Marines way of expressing sympathy and understanding without getting sticky about it.


Bearing is dignity without being unapproachable, work at it.

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Endurance is performing your duty under stressful conditions, for long periods of time. You canít think about quitting when the welfare of your Young Marines is at stake. The Squad leader must first check every personís position then his own. On the march, a squad leader will often carry part of anotherís load in addition to their own.


An unfit body or an undisciplined mind will never make it. Keep yourself fit, both physically and mentally. Learn to stand punishment by undertaking hard physical tasks. When you are tired, force yourself to study and think. Get plenty of rest before a field problem. A favorite saying of Marines is you donít have to train to be miserable. Thatís true. But you do have to train to endure misery.

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Unselfishness is seeing to it that the needs of your troops are met before your own. For example you should always eat last. You should never ask your Young Marines to do any- thing you canít or wouldnít do. Share the hardships and discomforts with your troops. While RHIP (Rank Has Its Privileges) donít let it cause you to become selfish. Marines are known for being so unselfish they gave their lives for others. Letís live up to that tradition.

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You demonstrate loyalty by being true to your troops and your unit. Defend your unit against unfair treatment. Do not bad mouth your unit to others. This is a two way street. It goes all the way up and all the way down the chain of command. Young Marines live by it. They quote from Latin for it - "Semper Fidelis" —always faithful.


As a leader of Young Marines, every word, every action must reflect your loyalty. Always back your troops when theyíre right. Correct them when theyíre wrong. Youíre being loyal both ways. Pass on orders as if they were your own even if they are distasteful. To rely on the rank of the superior who told you to do a job is to weaken your own position.


Keep personal problems and the private lives of your seniors to yourself. But, when it is proper to do so help your troops with their difficulties. Never criticize your unit, your seniors or your fellow NCOís in the presence of subordinates, make sure they donít either. If a deserving troop gets into trouble, go to bat for him. That Young Marine will work harder when itís all over.


When it comes to spreading corruption the proverbial rotten apple couldnít hold a candle to the damage done by a disloyal noncommissioned officer. The Young Marines have never had a problem in this area. Keep the record clean.

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Judgment is demonstrated by closely considering a range of alternatives and their consequences before you act. This comes with experience. It is simply weighing all the facts in any situation, applying the other 13 traits you just read about, then take the best one. Until you acquire experience it will be hard for you to know the best move. What do you do for experienced judgment in the meantime? There are more than thirty five years worth of experienced judgment on tap in the Young Marines. Some of it is available to you at the next link in the chain of command. Ask and youíll receive. Seek and youíll find.

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Rules and regulations taken from The Young Marines Guidebook

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