Officer & Gent

Essential Qualities of Successful Leaders

© IWM (NYP 31355)

“In these things lie a great part of the essence of leadership, for they are the constituents of that kind of moral courage which has enabled one man to draw many others to him in any age.”  -The Armed Forces Officer (1950) –U.S. DoD

1. Quiet resolution.

You need to have a vision, a picture of what future success looks like, and in the face of adversity; be steadfast, decisive, and calm as you move towards your goals.

2. The hardihood to take risks.

A leader who never dares, never pushed his limits, never risked possible failure for tremendous gain, never truly knew what he or his men were capable of, or understood when a risk was worth taking.

Remember this: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – William G.T. Shedd

3. The will to take full responsibility for decision.

Good or bad, the decision was yours, take ownership of it.

4. The readiness to share its rewards with subordinates.

Success comes with the support of others.  Others who deserve recognition for the part they played in your success.

5. An equal readiness to take the blame when things go adversely.

The risk you took should be worth the reward, you’ve already thought this through, and that’s why you took the risk.  Remember your quiet resolve, and again, take ownership of the decisions you’ve made.

6. The nerve to survive storm and disappointment and to face toward each new day with the scoresheet wiped clean, neither dwelling on one’s successes nor accepting discouragement from one’s failures.

As a leader, you cannot afford to become complacent and begin to expect success to come without trying, just because things have been going well lately.  Likewise, you cannot afford to dwell on your failures, and assume that you will be unsuccessful today based on past defeats. Every day begins with the same opportunity, will you take one step forwards today, or one step back.


Title: The Armed Forces Officer: Edition of 1950
Author: U.S. Department of Defense
ISBN: 9780988369634
Publication date: 2013

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