General James Mattis Leadership Traits

General James Mattis Leadership Traits

James Mattis is a retired U.S. Marine Corps General who is the current U.S. Secretary of Defense. Below are ten leadership characteristics from Mattis’ four decades on the front line. According to Mattis, effective leaders:

  • Are candid and truthful with people and teams. They do not filter specific feedback because of politics. For example, in 2001, Mattis said the Marines “owned” a piece of Afghanistan after a battle with Taliban fighters.
  • Collaborate with others to increase insight and make decisions. Mattis is more interested in a Marine’s brain than their rank. “I have been accused of making my subordinates my equals and I happily stand guilty.”
  • Coach people who make mistakes of commission. Mistakes of commission are calculated to make the right things happen (coach). Mistakes of omission result from lack of action, preparation, etc. (discipline).
  • Eat last to set precedence within the organization that their people and teams come first, including ahead of their own needs. Leaders serve and work for the people on their team, not the other way around.
  • Expect failure, but do not accept it. Failure only exists when you stop learning or when you tolerate errors and shortcomings. When you accept the status quo and take no corrective action to improve it, you fail.
  • Hire the right people. Marines exemplify aggressiveness and initiative. These characteristics create focus and speed, two key elements to generate combat power. “Marines are hunters, not the hunted.”
  • Lead by example to demonstrate high expectations and moral authority (“they live their ethos”). Demand and model excellence. “Everyone fills sandbags when there is work to be done and too few hands.”
  • Lead from the front. People are at the “tip of the spear” on missions. The leader and team need each other to successfully navigate danger and hardship. “I prefer command and feedback over command and control.”
  • Prepare and train people and teams for competition and opportunity. They reinforce learning within the organization by constantly challenging assumptions and the status quo. “If you want peace, prepare for war.”
  • Win the hearts and minds of the people they lead as they are who accomplish missions. Force should only be used to 1) accomplish what influence has not and 2) discourage behavior from happening in the future.

All contents copyright © 2017, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.


J. Paul Getty Leadership Traits

J. Paul Getty Leadership Traits

J. Paul Getty (12/15/1882 – 06/06/1976) was the founder of the Getty Oil Company. In 1957, Fortune magazine named him the richest living American. In 1966, the Guinness Book of Records named him the world’s richest private citizen. When Getty died in 1976, he was worth $2 billion ($8.4 billion in 2016). While there is no sure-fire formula for achieving success, in his book, How to Be Rich, Getty outlined the fundamental rules of business to tip the odds in an entrepreneur’s or executives’ favor. Getty’s fundamental rules of business are:

Fundamental Rules of Business

  • Always stand behind your work (honor guarantees) to build customer confidence and volume.
  • Be willing to spend (risk) money, but only after carefully calculated consideration.
  • Build your own business in a field you know and understand to maximize wealth creation.
  • Increase profits with more products and services at lower costs while maintaining high standards of quality.
  • Make better products and services to increase production and sales; competition exists to be met and bested.
  • Measured expansion, including domestic and international, is key to business growth.
  • Practice economy (frugality and thrift) whenever and wherever possible.
  • Run your business; while you can delegate authority, you cannot delegate responsibility and accountability.
  • Seek new horizons and un-tapped and under-exploited markets; sell energetically and imaginatively.
  • Treat wealth accumulation as a means for improving the living standards and wages of all.

In How to Be Rich, Getty also outlined the characteristics of what makes a good executive. The characteristics are:

What Makes A Good Executive?

  • Communicates clearly and quickly about what needs to be done and by whom (time is money).
  • Conscientiously and loyally carries out orders, but not blindly (gives careful consideration to consequences).
  • Demonstrates loyalty to the company and its employees and shareholders, not to specific individuals.
  • Displays a positive attitude toward subordinates (empowers and trusts people).
  • Displays a positive, but responsible and thoughtful attitude toward superiors (“is not a bootlicker”).
  • Leads (directs) people to effectively and efficiently achieve business goals.
  • Possesses strong understanding of business fundamentals and general management versus specialization.
  • Shows enthusiasm and interest for both the company and industry, not just their department.
  • Solicits counsel and feedback from others; makes decisions; gives orders; assumes responsibility for results.
  • Thinks and acts independently without constant advice or approval from their superiors.

All contents copyright © 2017, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

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