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Three-Minute Leadership Foundation

By Col. John Boggs U.S. Marine Corps (Ret)

The world is in such a rush. If it takes longer than three minutes to place an order at a fast food restaurant and receive the order, we are beside ourselves. If a computer takes, 10 seconds to boot-up some have near death experiences. In addition, practically no one wants to take the time to read. The ever-increasing popularity of “YouTube” is evidence of that. We have a safety card on airplanes with budding actors and actresses cleverly disguised as flight attendants that even act out what is on the card.

In view of a growing lack of attention span and willingness to read to get information, this is a three-minute article on three basic leadership foundations. Is this all one needs to know about being a successful leader—NO! There are more lessons in leadership than this article will address. This short article, however, is a good start. Most importantly, you only need to look at the pictures, and you will be done in three minutes.

So here they are:

  1. Courage—the picture on the left is Colonel Eddie Ray U.S. Marine Corps. If his picture seems like that of a man mountain, that is because he is. He is a modern day war hero and a dear friend. Ray was awarded the Navy Cross for valor, the nation’s second highest military award, for his actions in Operation Desert Storm. In short, he led seven Light Armored Vehicles; this is less than a company-sized unit against an Iraqi armored brigade, 34 armored vehicles and tanks. Under his leadership, his small band of Marines, with violence of action Marines are noted for, destroyed the Iraqi brigade. The picture on the right is Mahatma Gandhi. He led a nation to freedom while advocating non-violence. In the face of overwhelming odds, armed with nothing but his walking stick, he faced the might of one of the greatest empires in history, Great Britain.
  2. Honor—the picture on the left, Colonel Ray maintained a reputation among Marines as a man of great humility. He is known for his ability to maintain perspective and act responsibly. His respect for human dignity, even in combat, is of the highest caliber. The picture on the right, Mahatma Gandhi was equally known for his character. His respect for human dignity led him to include the liberation of women and put an end to caste discrimination in the fight for self-rule for India.
  3. Commitment—Unrelenting determination to achieve a high standard of excellence in all endeavors was evident in both men’s achievements. Col Ray’s violence of action saved the lives of many Marines and significantly crippled the enemy. Some have argued that Ray’s achievement was one of the major factors to leading to a short war. Gandhi’s unwavering commitment to non-violence produced historic results. Some have argued that his achievement influenced the civil rights movement in the United States and South Africa.

The two men in a word are and were exemplars. They exhibited the behavior they expected from those they lead. There is much to learn about the subject. The basic lesson in leadership is one must be able to model the way in order to lead the way.  All who led successfully know this. The three basics described above are core values. Core values are a personal guide that can sustain you when things are not going as well as you would like and a beacon for those that follow your lead.

My three minutes have expired. Colonel Eddie Ray retired from the Marine Corps in February 2008 at Parris Island South Carolina where his Marine Corps career started 30 years before.

Colonel John Boggs U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) works with outstanding leaders to leverage talent in order to dramatically improve performance and rapidly exceed goals.