In a video released by the Marine Corps, retired Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis shares the life lessons he has learned about leadership and how his experience in the Marine Corps has affected it.
Mattis spends roughly 16 minutes answering questions about leadership from Marines and the general public. The questions were asked through social media.
What is the toughest decision you had to make while in the Marine Corps and did you ever regret your decision?
“When we go into the Marine Corps, we swear to obey orders and carry them out to the best of our ability and defend the Constitution, so I’ve not regretted those decisions,” Mattis said.
Of his most difficult decision, he said he received orders to halt an attack in Fallujah after taking over most of the city with some casualties, and it was a decision he feared would negatively affect the morale of the Marines under his command, but it ultimately didn’t.
“Ultimately it’s about the spirit of the Marine Corps that nothing, nothing really can stop us and we just don’t take refuge in self-pity … so as a result, the Marine Corps remains a very feared organization in this world, as it should be,” he said.
See the rest of his responses in the video below:
How did you stay motivated throughout your Marine Corps career?
Mattis explained there were things he didn’t like about his career – especially minefields – and he knew he could have a less stressful, better-paying career outside of the Marine Corps, but he was motivated by the spirit of the Marine Corps and getting the chance to work alongside young Marines.
How do you keep improving as a leader to meet the demand of each role in your career?
There was a cold night in Afghanistan when you were walking the perimeter by yourself, greeting a bunch of young Marines. What were you thinking about?
What is the one leadership lesson that you learned as a General grade officer that you wish you had known your whole career?
What leadership books do you recommend?
What did you look for in your NCO’s and how should the relationship between an NCO and an officer compliment each other?
What in your opinion is the most important leadership trait and why?
What is the kill-casualty radius of the knife-hand?