Fourteen Leadership Traits for Success*


Leadership is an important factor to the success of any organization. Likewise, being a good leader is often an important component to the success of an individual in his or her career. Possessing leadership abilities is not only important when interacting with subordinates, but also when interacting with peers, supervisors, and individuals from other organizations. People are more willing to work for or with a person who has leadership abilities than they are to work for or with a person who does not.  leadership

The United States Marine Corps has identified fourteen traits that good leaders possess: justice, judgment, dependability, integrity, decisiveness, tact, initiative, enthusiasm, bearing, unselfishness, courage, knowledge, loyalty, and endurance. Marines remember these fourteen leadership traits through the mnemonic device “JJ DID TIE BUCKLE.” Each of these leadership traits will be briefly discussed.

Justice is the quality of being consistent and impartial. A person displays this quality by giving rewards and punishments based on merit, not favoritism.

Judgment is the ability to think about things clearly and calmly, and the ability to weigh facts and possible solutions in forming an opinion or deciding on a course of action.

Dependability is the certainty and confidence others have in one’s ability to properly perform duties. A good leader can be counted on by supervisors, peers, subordinates, and clients alike.

Integrity is the honorableness of character and soundness of morals. A person that has integrity is, among other things, honest and uncorrupt.

Decisiveness is the ability to make decisions timely and to announce them in a clear manner. While it is important to think about issues clearly, there are times when a quick decision may be necessary.

Tact is the ability to interact with others without creating offense. Good leaders know what to say and how to act in situations in order to maintain favorable relationships with others.

Initiative is taking action in the absence of instructions. A good leader does not always wait to be told what to do.

Enthusiasm is the display of sincere interest in the performance of duty. An enthusiastic leader is better able to motivate others in the performance of their duties.

Bearing is the creation of a favorable impression in appearance and personal conduct.

Unselfishness is the absence of providing for one’s personal advancement or comfort at the expense of others or one’s organization.

Courage is the mental quality that recognizes fear, but enables one to proceed in the face of it with calmness and firmness. Although courage may seem important when leading a military unit into battle, and not so important when supervising an office, courage is an important trait for all leaders. An office manager must have the courage, for example, to deny an employee’s vacation request when necessary or to speak in front of a large audience.

Knowledge is the understanding of a science, art, or technique. A good leader continually seeks to improve his or her understanding of a subject and seeks challenging assignments.

Loyalty is the quality of faithfulness to one’s supervisors, subordinates, peers, and organization. You cannot expect others to be loyal to you or your organization if you are not loyal to them or the organization.

Endurance is the ability to withstand fatigue, stress, pain, and hardship.

Although some of these traits may be more important in some situations than in others, the presence and development of each of these fourteen leadership traits can mean the difference between a smoothly run organization and an organization plagued by strife.

*This post was written by guest blogger, Paul Loughman.  Paul is a 3L at the University of Virginia School of Law.  Paul served as a Marine prior to college and is one of the outstanding summer associates participating in Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor’s Summer Associate Program this year.  Thanks, Paul!


One response to “Fourteen Leadership Traits for Success*”

  1. Steve says:

    The key trait I am taking with me for my week after reading your article is ‘unselfishness.’ This is easier said than done, but in the measure I give, I believe I will receive, as long as I am not being ‘unselfish’ in a ‘selfish’ manner.

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