Our actions as Marines every day must embody the legacy of those who went before us. Their memorial to us—their teaching, compassion, courage, sacrifices, optimism, humor, humility, commitment, perseverance, love, guts, and glory—is the pattern for our daily lives. This manual attempts to capture those heritages of the Marine Corps' approach to leading. It is not prescriptive because there is no formula for leadership. It is not all-inclusive because to capture all that it is to be a Marine or to lead Marines defies pen and paper. Instead, it is intended to provide those charged with leading Marines a sense of the legacy they have inherited, and to help them come to terms with their own personal leadership style. The indispensable condition of Marine Corps leadership is action and attitude, not words. As one Marine leader said, "Don't tell me how good you are. Show me!"
Marines have been leading for over 200 years and today continue leading around the globe. Whether in the field or in garrison, at the front or in the rear, Marines, adapting the time-honored values, traditions, customs, and history of our Corps to their generation, will continue to lead—and continue to win.
This manual comes to life through the voices, writings, and examples of not one person, but many. Thousands of Americans who have borne, and still bear, the title "Marine" are testimony that "Once a Marine, Always a Marine" and "Semper Fidelis" are phrases that define our essence. It is to those who know, and to those who will come to know, this extraordinary way of life that this book is dedicated.