Justice is a Leadership Trait

The Leadership Trait of Justice

This is the eighth article in a series about the fourteen leadership traits taught by the U.S. Marine Corps, and this week’s topic is Justice.

The Principles of Marine Corps Leadership describes justice as “Giving reward and punishment according to the merits of the case in question. The ability to administer a system of rewards and punishments impartially and consistently.”1

In 1828, in just one definition for justice, Noah Webster wrote that it is a virtue that gives to everyone what they are due.2

Dangerous Driving

Recently on a Sunday afternoon we were on I-20 in Atlanta returning home from a driving trip to the East coast. In the rearview mirror, I noticed a speeding black car weaving in and out of traffic. Before I could blink, the car was on my tailgate, whipped around me, and continued to dangerously weave in and out of traffic until it was quickly out of sight.

I looked back in the rearview mirror hoping to see a police car in pursuit, but none appeared. The driver of the black car was endangering everyone else on the interstate and merited a traffic citation, which would have been their due justice. Frankly, I believe that the driver merited something stiffer than a ticket, but that is a different article.

Are You Impartial and Consistent?

Look back at the definition of justice from the Principles of Marine Corps Leadership and think about the last sentence, “The ability to administer a system of rewards and punishments impartially and consistently.”

What about you as an officer and supervisor? Are you impartial and consistent with rewards and punishment? During my career in the fire service, I worked with and for officers who had integrity and were impartial and were consistent.

However, there were those officers (including chiefs), who were not impartial, they were not consistent, and they were part of a select group of individuals known as the “Fair haired, golden children.”

They were the ones who wanted to have a group of followers rather than develop a group of leaders. They were the ones who overlooked infractions and egregious behavior from their friends and buddies but were quick to find fault and punish lesser infractions from those who were not part of their group.

Providing Guidance

The behavior described above is a lack of integrity, and it is not justice. Many of you reading this know exactly what I am writing about.

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1 RP0103.pdf (marines.mil)

2 Websters Dictionary 1828 – Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Justice

©2023 Rick Davis. Artificial intelligence (AI) WAS NOT used to generate this content.

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