• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

James Mattis's Leadership Philosophy

Halifax Tar

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
Great read...

You’d have to have been living in a hole to not have heard of James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis. The current Secretary of Defense and former United States Marine Corps General has a legendary reputation in the US armed forces. It’s a reputation built on stories of his no-nonsense combat and peacetime leadership.

Several years ago an email from General Mattis appeared in which he explained the importance of reading to improve your military ability. It included such gems as “The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way”. It was published by Jill Sargent Russell and I’ve reproduced it here. I’d recommend it as a read.

But right now another email about him is circulating US Army and USMC circles. Titled Secretary Mattis’ Leadership Philosophy and Guidance, it is purported to be a list compiled by Mattis. On closer reading, it includes quotes and comments from his earlier writings and publications. That’s not to say it isn’t genuinely written by him. But it’s probably best to consider it a compiled list of Mattis’s leadership philosophy from over the years. Many of these quotes you will only find by trawling his orders, memoranda and letters. Where I have done so and found the source, I’ve linked it.

You may not agree with it all, but it represents a summary of the leadership thinking of a renowned warrior-scholar and leader. There is something in here for every leader.