Extracts from a 1942 USMC First Sergeants Handbook
I'd like to thank TogetherWeServed member SSgt Jack Pike, USMC (Ret) for posting this on the TWS forum board and for his permission to repost it here.
"I would like to think all NCOs and Officers in the Marine Corps live by these traits. I got my leadership and work ethic when I was 18 years old in Vietnam by my Skipper who was ripping me a new ass about a shortcoming I had. He told me leadership traits are important but not near as important as the two leadership objectives. 1. Accomplish the Mission 2. Look out for the welfare of your men. He told me if I fail at #1, it will have adverse affect on #2. If you fail at #2, #1 will be near impossible."
SSgt Jack "TF" Pike, UCMC (Ret)
The words may be slightly different, but the fundamentals of Marine Corps Leadership haven't changed in the past 66 years.
EACH MAN WHO DESIRES TO BE A LEADER OF MEN MUST LEARN THE FOLLOWING ESSENTIAL POINTS
Once in a great while a man is born a leader. The rest of us become leaders by hard study and long practice of the rules of the past. Below are given the rules laid down by these leaders. Study them and practice them, for your future success will depend upon your ability to master then whether in the Naval Service or later in civilian life.
OBEDIENCE: Obedience is of first importance. It is absolutely necessary in a military organization to insure success. Obedience to your superiors, obedience to regulations, must be learned first and practiced before you can ever expect to be a leader of men. Your success will depend mainly upon how well YOU learn to obey.
BEHAVIOR: Good behavior and a clean record are necessary for promotion to positions of leadership. Men sometimes fail of promotion to warrant and commissioned rank because of bad records of early enlistments.
KNOWLEDGE: Knowledge comes only through study and hard work. There is no “royal road to learning”. (Men always respect you for what you know. It pays to know, and to know you know). Know your own job. Know the job ahead of yours.
FIGHTING SPIRIT: You know what this is. Without it, you are only a human biped who wears pants. With it, you are a live, red-blooded, go-getter ---one who will succeed. Have you the grit to stay with a hard job? Never say “I can’t.” Forget there is such a phrase. Don’t be a quitter. “A man may be down but never out,” until he admits it.
RELIABILITY: Always do what you are told to do, and do it the best you know how. Can you be depended upon, whether alone on a job or with others? Get the reputation of seeing the job done through.
LOYALTY: Stick up for yourself, your officers, your noncommissioned officers, your company, your organization. As you show loyalty to them, they will show loyalty to you, and people under you will do the same. Boost! If you can’t Boost, DON’T KNOCK.
INITIATIVE: This is one of the outstanding qualifications of a leader. The man with initiative takes hold of the things that need doing and does them without being told, while the other fellow is standing idly by because no one has told him what to do. A man with initiative thinks on his feet. He can be trusted to take care of the unexpected situation because he is always on the alert and thinking ahead of his job.
SELF-CONTROL: Do not fly off the handle. It nearly always gets you into trouble and lessons the respect that others hold for you. If you lose your self-control in little things you are sure to do so in big things. The man who cannot control himself will never develop into a real leader of others.
Second extract from a 1942 USMC First Sergeants Handbook.
ENERGY: A lazy man never has time to do anything right or to do anything to improve himself, and he never gets far. Be “peppy.” Don’t have to be cranked every time to get started. Put some drive into things. Carry a “self-starter.”
JUSTICE: Be square. Play the game hard, but play it squarely. Give a square deal to others, and expect one in return. Act so others can respect you as a man.
TRUTHFULNESS: The final test of a man is:--In a pinch, will he lie? Many a man who told the truth—the whole truth, has been let off or given a light punishment, where the liar was punished for the offense and for lying as well.
FAITH: Believe in yourself. Trust yourself. Count on yourself. Count on yourself to be one of the best man-o-war’s men in the whole Corps, and then let go to it and make it good. Trust your fellow man. They are good fellows and will meet you halfway as a rule. Believe in and trust the Corps. Splendid men have made it what it is. Do all you can to keep it as good as it is, and make it even better.
HONOR: Act so that your home folks will be proud of you, and will tell all of your friends what fine things you are doing in the Marine Corps. Act so that others will want to be like you. Few men can survive dishonor. Remember you can never disgrace or dishonor yourself without bringing dishonor on your name, your people, and the uniform you wear.
CHEERFULNESS: Smile and the world smiles with you. Smile when things go wrong. If you don’t smile, at least try to. You can surely keep the corners of your mouth up.
HONESTY: Enough said. Without honesty your career is limited and you are sure to fail in the long run. Nobody wants to deal with or associate with a cheat.
TIPS FOR FIRST SERGEANTS
Know your job. Know what is going on in your organization, and seek cooperation from your noncommissioned officers. Think over what you wish to say before giving orders and before committing them to paper. Think over your plans before putting them into execution. A well laid plan greatly aids your prestige in an organization. Give orders clearly, be definite. Be sure that your orders are understood and that they are carried out to the letter.
Organize your company if it is not already organized. Give each noncommissioned officer some definite job and require him to do it. Back up your noncommissioned officers, right or wrong. If wrong take care of the matter later directly with the Non-Com. Know your noncommissioned officers. Select a hard working noncommissioned officer for police sergeant and back him up in his duties. Treat all your men fairly. Play NO FAVORITES.
Maintain discipline in your company through leadership. Keep your company in line without constant recourse to placing of men on report. This is generally accomplished by excellent leadership among the noncommissioned officers. A noncommissioned officer who constantly places men on report, indicates that he is an inferior leader and needs a little extra supervision. Do not permit good privates to be victims of this man’s lack of leadership and spoil their record because of his undeveloped qualities of leadership. Several noncommissioned officers of this type can ruin your organization in short order.
In the matter of placing men on the report, the first sergeant should see that all information is available to the Captain, that all witnesses are present, that he has made a preliminary investigation and that he knows what the case is all about. Talk to the Company Commander about the case before the man is brought in. Warn all witnesses, the reporting noncommissioned officer, or private to state facts to the Company Commander regarding the case.