I believe this week’s leadership trait is probably one of the most important in everyday life, and that trait is INTEGRITY, which means, “… you are honest and truthful in what you say or do. You put honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles above all else.”
This trait is strongly emphasized from day one of the enlistment process throughout the entirety of a Marine’s career. A recruit who lies, cheats, or steals will quickly be labeled an integrity violator.
When I was in recruit training, we had an integrity violator in my platoon. Part of recruit training is what we call “fire watch”, which is where two recruits stand post for an hour at a time, and they watch for anything that could pose a danger to their platoon.
While my platoon was on the rifle range, we had a recruit who fell asleep on fire watch (the second time committing that violation) and then lie about it to the senior drill instructor the next morning. Not only did that recruit endanger every one of us, but he also lied about it in order to try and save his own skin! That is a textbook example of an integrity violator, and no Marine wants to where that label. Marines are nothing if not honest, and we expect all Marines to take responsibility for their actions.
Once a Marine’s integrity is called into question, it is a very long and very hard path to rebuilding the lost trust and confidence. Right or wrong, I’ve seen Marines who wear the “integrity violator” label through their entire career by way of negative counselings and/or nonjudicial punishment as documented in their service record book.
Marine leaders can and often do “forgive” their junior Marines of many things, but a junior Marine who is willing to violate his own integrity will most likely not be forgiven or trusted for a very long time.
// By Sgt. Sneden
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// By Staff Sgt. Greg Thomas
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