Northwind Pharmaceuticals

Leadership Lessons From Our Armed Forces


Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. –

Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 and this week marks the 61st anniversary of our day to honor all of our Veterans. As I considered all of the tributes this week, I was reminded of the impact of our military institutions beyond their missions of keeping us safe. As I dug a little deeper, I discovered that the United States Armed Forces have a thing or two to say about leadership that can benefit all of us.

Since its inception 239 years ago, the U.S. Marine Corps has stood as a model of leadership. With its motto of “Semper Fidelis”, the Marine Corps has taught us to balance warrior traits with citizen values. The leadership traits embraced by the Marines are more relevant than ever to those of us working to build and lead our own organizations:

  • Justice – be firm but fair in your organization and your community.
  • Judgment – learn from mistakes as you lead through them.
  • Dependability – develop solutions not excuses.
  • Integrity – act with honor when all eyes are on you, or when no one is watching you.
  • Decisiveness – the worst decision is indecision.
  • Tact – how you say something can be just as important as what is being said.
  • Initiative – don’t wait to be told what to do.
  • Endurance – it is more than finding the will within. It’s convincing those around you that they, too, have more to give.
  • Integrity – impeccable standards should be exemplified in everything you do.
  • Unselfishness – team before self.
  • Courage – push through fear.
  • Knowledge – know more today than yesterday.
  • Loyalty – semper fidelis – always faithful to those on your left and on your right.
  • Motivation – anything worth doing is worth giving your all. Motivation is contagious.

The U.S. Air Force reminds us that our core values set the tone for our organization and should be reflected in everything we do:

  1. Integrity First – Integrity is the ability to hold together and properly regulate all of the elements of a personality. A person of integrity, for example, is capable of acting on conviction. A person of integrity can control impulses and appetites. It is the moral compass and the voice of self control.
  2. Service Before Self – Professional duties take precedence over personal desires.
  3. Excellence In All We Do – Develop a sustained passion for continuous improvement and innovation that propels you into an upward spiral of accomplishment and performance.

The United States Army tells us to live to a higher standard. The U.S. Army embrace seven core values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. Understanding our values is not enough, we must continually strive to live up to them.

Finally, the U.S. Navy calls us to embrace a spirit of self improvement molded by core values: Honor, Courage and Commitment. I’m beginning to see a trend.

Though each branch has its own philosophy on leadership, the threads remain the same. At its core, leadership is holding yourself to a higher standard and helping those around you get there as well. It’s consistently showing up and pushing through regardless of the obstacles. It’s giving your best and expecting the best every time.

So, thank you to all of our veterans and the military branches in which they have served. Thank you for your efforts to protect us and those around us. Thank you for working to live to a higher standard and be the example. Thank you for making the values of the U.S. Armed Forces real in the world around us.

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