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QPME: History and Traditions of the United States Marine Corps: Ethics, Values, and Leadership Development

Scope of Marine Corps Leadership: Holism

The idea of trying to define a “scope” of leadership might sound silly to Marines, who innately understand that leadership is everything. When it comes to the value in understanding leadership as a holistic endeavor (which pervades the Marine Corps), General Lejeune remains our "spiritual leader". This demonstrates that his influence as a leader transcends the relatively short period of time during which he wore the uniform.

The concept of holistic development appears throughout General Lejeune’s writings, perhaps most especially in his famous "six paragraphs". These six paragraphs were originally published in Marine Corps Order Number 29, in 1920In MCO 29, Lejeune sets forth the familiar cultural cornerstones of leadership in the Marine Corps: a senior to a junior is like that of a teacher to a  scholar, and it resembles the relationship between a father and son, and is characterized by a spirit of brotherhood. These paragraphs explicitly charge leaders with being responsible for the “physical, mental, and moral welfare” of their subordinates.

One of the six paragraphs in particular is highly illustrative of General Lejeune’s philosophy of leadership. In his third paragraph, he discusses a duty owed to the parents and the Nation to ensure that when Marines are released from the Corps, that they should be “far better…physically, mentally, and morally than they were when they enlisted.” This concept has been carried on in to modern Marine Corps doctrine.

It was General Lejeune’s belief that joining the Marine Corps essentially shifts the mantle of a parental-like responsibility from the families and society from which Marines come to the leaders of the Marine Corps. The duty attached to this shift in responsibility is the duty to ensure that subordinates are developed in all dimensions, which Lejeune expresses as “physical, mental and moral welfare.” General Lejeune’s view of leadership remains an important aspect of the Marine Corps ethos regarding proper interaction between superior and subordinate, and how the Marine Corps makes leaders.

Leadership in Today's Marine Corps

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