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14 Leadership Traits of the United States Marine Corps

As one of the most respected branches of the United States armed forces, the United States Marine Corps (USMC) has a long and proud history of cultivating leadership and instilling important values in those who serve. At the core of this leadership development are the 14 leadership traits that the USMC emphasizes in all of its training.

Key Takeaways

  • The USMC places a strong emphasis on leadership development.
  • The 14 leadership traits are key components of USMC leadership training.
  • These traits can be applied in leadership roles beyond the military.

1. Justice

Leaders in the USMC must be just in their actions, always striving to do what is right and fair. They must be able to make sound and objective decisions that are in the best interest of their team.

2. Judgment

USMC leaders need to have good judgment skills. This means being able to make quick and effective decisions based on limited information, as well as taking into account the long-term implications of those decisions.

3. Dependability

Dependability is a key trait for any leader, and nowhere is that more true than in the military. USMC leaders must be reliable and trustworthy, consistently delivering on their commitments and doing what they say they will do.

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4. Initiative

Initiative is an important trait for leaders in any field, and it is especially critical in the military. USMC leaders must be proactive and always be looking for ways to improve their effectiveness and that of their team.

5. Decisiveness

Leaders in the USMC need to be decisive, able to make important decisions quickly and confidently in high-pressure situations. They must also be willing to take responsibility for those decisions and be accountable for their outcomes.

6. Tact

Tact is an important leadership trait that involves the ability to communicate effectively and diplomatically with others. USMC leaders must be skilled at navigating complex relationships and be able to use diplomacy to diffuse tense situations.

7. Integrity

Integrity is a fundamental value that is essential for all USMC leaders. Leaders must display moral and ethical principles, adhere to a code of ethics, and always seek to do the right thing.

8. Endurance

Endurance is an important trait for USMC leaders, who may be called upon to work for long hours in physically challenging conditions. Leaders must be able to push through fatigue and discomfort in order to accomplish their missions.

9. Bearing

Physical bearing is an important aspect of leadership in the USMC. Leaders must carry themselves with confidence and self-assurance, projecting an image of strength and resilience to their team.

10. Unselfishness

Leadership in the USMC is not about personal gain, but rather about serving others. USMC leaders must be unselfish and always put the needs of their team and their mission first.

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11. Courage

Courage is an essential trait for all leaders, and it is especially important in the military. USMC leaders must be willing to put themselves in harm’s way in order to accomplish their objectives and protect their team.

12. Knowledge

Knowledge is power, and USMC leaders must be well-versed in a wide range of subjects. Leaders must be continually expanding their knowledge and staying up-to-date on the latest developments in their field.

13. Loyalty

Loyalty is a key value for leaders in the USMC, who must be dedicated to their team and their mission. Leaders must be willing to make sacrifices for the good of their team, even when those sacrifices are difficult.

14. Enthusiasm

Finally, USMC leaders must be enthusiastic about their work and their mission. They must be passionate about what they do and inspire their team to share that passion.


The 14 leadership traits of the USMC are a fundamental part of the organization’s leadership development program. These traits are essential for leaders within the USMC, but they are also valuable skills for leaders in any field. By cultivating these traits, leaders can become more effective at motivating and inspiring their teams, achieving their goals, and leading their organizations to success.


What is the role of leadership in the USMC?

Leadership is a critical component of the USMC’s success. Effective leadership is necessary to achieve the Corps’ objectives and to inspire and motivate its members.

Are the leadership traits of the USMC unique to the military?

While the leadership traits of the USMC are specifically emphasized in military training and development, they reflect core values and traits that are relevant to leadership in any field.

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