4 Leadership Principles You Must Possess

Way back when I was a young E4 studying for the E5 Sergeant board many things were drilled into my head. I spent every waking hour studying for the board. Military leadership has been replicated throughout the civilian sector for years. Mainly due to the fact that what is done in the military has life altering actions. If you take what works in the military, one has to believe it’ll work in the civilian world. Among things learned like “Be, Know, Do”, “Seek responsibility and accept responsibility for your actions”, the styles of leadership, etc., one thing that has always jumped out at me was the “4 C’s of Leadership”. Courage, Competence, Candor and Commitment. I extracted the following directly from the U.S. Army Leadership Manual, FM 22-100, dated 31Jul1990, Military Leadership.

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The four individual values that all soldiers
(leaders and led) are expected to possess are
courage, candor, competence, and commitment.
These four values are considered essential for
building the trust which must exist for a unit to
operate at peak efficiency.

Courage comes in two forms. Physical
courage is overcoming fears of bodily harm and
doing your duty. Moral courage is overcoming
fears of other than bodily harm while doing
what ought to be done.
Moral courage is as important as physical
courage. It is the courage to stand firm on your
values, your moral principles, and your convictions.
You show moral courage when you do
something based on one of your values or moral
principles, knowing that the action may not be
in your best interest. It takes special courage to
support unpopular decisions and to make it
difficult for others to do the wrong thing. Others
may encourage you to embrace a “slightly”
unethical solution as the easiest or most
convenient method. Do not ease the way for
others to do wrong; stand up for your beliefs and
what you know is right. Do not compromise your
professional ethic or your individual values and
moral principles. If you believe you are right
after sober and considered judgment, hold your

Candor is being frank, open, honest, and
sincere with your soldiers, seniors, and peers. It
is an expression of personal integrity. If handled
properly, disagreeing with others and
presenting your point of view are not wrong.
Remember these three important points:
(1) select the right time and place to offer your
criticism or advice; (2) do not criticize a plan
without giving a constructive alternative;
(3) recognize that when your leader has made the
final decision, you must end your discussion and
support legal and proper orders even if you do
not personally agree with them. There is often
no time in combat to verify reports or to question
the accuracy of information. Consequences are
too important, and time is too short to
communicate anything but the truth. Candor is
equally important in peacetime. Demand it from
your subordinates and expect it from your peers
and superiors. Candor expresses personal

H.R. McMaster was one of the greatest leaders I served under. I was the youngest, lowest ranking Platoon Sergeant in our Squadron. He exemplified all for principles.

The beliefs of a leader impact
directly on the leadership climate,
cohesion, discipline, training, and
combat effectiveness of a unit.

Competence is proficiency in required
professional knowledge, judgment, and skills.
Each leader must have it to train and to develop
a cohesive, disciplined unit with all the required
individual and collective skills to win on the
battlefield. Competence builds confidence in
one’s self and one’s unit; both are crucial
elements of morale, courage, and, ultimately,
success on the battlefield.

Commitment means the dedication to carry
out all unit missions and to serve the values of
the country, the Army, and the unit. This is
shown by doing your best to contribute to the
Army, to train and develop your unit, and to
help your soldiers develop professionally and

These are not principles that can be faked. They must be lived in everything you do. Many people may stray from you as you begin to practice these. That’s OK because you don’t want them around anyway. Good leaders can lead and be led, period. Practice these principles in everything you do and I promise you will reap the harvest. Please Like, Share and Subscribe!!! Leave a comment for me or ask a question. Thank you!!


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