Message to NNOA President & Members:
A leader’s philosophy, vision, traits, and techniques are all tools developed, learned, and continuously practiced over a lifetime. For me, the development of my tools reflects the investment of others in me, investment of me into others, and investment in myself. Each experience that I now label “invest” can grow a leader, but as you all know it does not just happen. It is easy to appear definitive about my leadership tools – I am not. We should be learning all our lives to be a better leader each day. For example, I never imagine until it was upon me that the greatest leadership challenges and learning would be in the leading my family as a son, brother, husband, and father. My mistakes are numerous, but I am blessed with each opportunity to learn, lead, and live.
The below was a short guide meant to help everyone in the commands I served. Recommend you know the difference for yourself between philosophy, vision, techniques, or traits. A philosophy is about you; a vision is about the unit/organization.
Command Philosophy: “A few things you need to know about serving with Colonel Henderson.”
#1. Selflessness. Care more about your fellow Marines and sailors than you do for yourself. The greater your rank and responsibility the greater this care and selflessness should be. As a leader you must come to truly love your men and this should be exemplified by your teaching, discipline, presence, understanding their needs, and more importantly, your time. This doesn’t mean that we coddle our Marines and sailors but show them our concern through actions. Often the greatest love is the toughest and hardest given with resolve and dignity.
#2. Be a Warrior. Be physically and mentally tough. We play the hand they are dealt without complaint and we never quit. We make our own “luck” with planning, hard work, and “bulldog” tenacity. True Warriors understand their responsibilities: family; nation; and Corps and have the courage to ask for help when they need it. True men and women give that help without asking for anything in return. Simply being a better man and woman makes you a better Marine, a better sailor, a better husband, wife, father, mother, friend, and brother-at-arms.
“I see many soldiers; could I but see as many warriors!” F.W. Nietzsche
#3. Ameri-CAN not Ameri-CAN’T. In the end, all any of us really have control over is ourselves and this is manifested through our attitude. Attitude does not mean false motivation it means knowing deep down that everyday you’re still breathing is a gift; that you will make it over that next hill; that no matter how bad things get, nothing will break your spirit. An Ameri-CAN attitude seeks the solution and doesn’t dwell on the problem itself. We simply get the job done, we take care of each other, and we never, ever give up.
“When all else fails, perseverance prevails.”
#4. Total Honesty. Integrity, like attitude belongs to you alone. We must absolutely trust what we tell each other, or the battle is already lost. Honesty holds us together. The trust that comes from honesty is critical and nothing should ever compromise it. Mean what you say and stand behind your word. Never lie, cheat, or steal, especially to and from a fellow Marine.
#5. Communicate. Bad news never gets better with age. We must communicate — ask yourself: “what do I know, who needs to know it, and have I told them”? I will often ask for your ideas on how to do things better, again think about the question, be honest, and give me the information I need. No Marine will ever be punished for telling the truth. He will be responsible for the deed, but never admonished for his honesty. When we make mistakes, and we will, we own up to them.
#6. Hazing, Sexual Assault, and Discrimination. There is no valid excuse for any of this type of activity. First, there is only one initiation in the Marine Corps, and it occurs at enlisted recruit and officer candidate training. Anything else is amateur and unprofessional! When it comes to discrimination, whether due to race, gender, or religion, it has no place in our units. It takes away from our strength – diversity. Discrimination diminishes our character – selflessness. Sexual harassment and assault is the greatest threat to the force – protect each other from this threat. When you find yourself in a questionable situation ask the following question. If this Marine or sailor were the Commander’s son or daughter would I treat him this way in front of the Commander?
#7. Accountability. Along with the six previously stated traits, habits, and philosophy the Accountability Code is simple; I am accountable for my Marines and sailors. I am accountable for my equipment. I am accountable for my actions. I am accountable for my lack of action.
“Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger than the excitement of battle or the fear of death.”
Gen George S. Patton, Jr.
#8. Common Sense. Operations, training, exercises, even our lives can get very complicated very fast. Whenever you can, keep it simple! Think about what you are doing and the consequences and use your common sense. If it still doesn’t make sense, then ask why.
#9. Leadership. Be a take charge leader. When in doubt do the next right thing – 99 times out of 100 you know what the wrong courses of action are. A leader makes decisions. Good decision-making comes from experience. Experience comes from occasionally making bad decisions. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t repeat them. Mistakes resulting from acts of commission are part of the learning process – inaction is tantamount to cowardice. Failing to plan properly is laziness.
“It is better to be on hand with ten men than to be absent with ten thousand.” Tamerlane