Signal Charlie

Dedicated to the continuous improvement of aerospace safety


Professionalism crept into the aviation safety discussion a few years back, and it caused me to pause and reflect on when and where team members of the aerospace system where ever taught “professionalism?” Professionalism has the same attributes as leadership, and I happened to be taught about Leadership Traits and Principles in the Marine Corps. They are listed below, and can be easily translated over for use in personal flying or use at the largest air transport organizations.

Leadership Traits















Leadership Principles

Know yourself and seek self-improvement

Be technically and tactically proficient

Know your Marines (Team) and look out for their welfare

Keep your Marines (Team) informed

Set the example

Ensure the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished

Train your Marines as a team

Make sound and timely decisions

Develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates

Employ your command in accordance with its capabilities

Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions

These traits and principles should be taught, very first thing, to anyone starting out as a team member of a high reliability organization. We all operate in the National Airspace System, therefore we are members of that organization whether we are flying a light sport aircraft or a B777, maintaining those aircraft, controlling air traffic, managing an airport…you get the picture.

Professional Leaders have the right attitude. Knowledge is power.

Power + Attitude = Perfomance

That equation not only controls aircraft but it also keeps our system at its optimum performance level.

These attributes are not new, the Marine corps has been using them since the 1920s when they were introduced by General John Lejeune. It is my guess that he brought over similar administrative theories from the business world, and paraphrased the 14 Principles of Management by Henri Fayol. Or maybe they got together over a beer and hammered them out. Management/leadership theories and ideals are universal, the good ones focus on continuous improvement and training for everyone. And along the way Deming entered the mix, and we evoloved to Total Quality Leadership, where we efficiently move good to great.

See the references below for a little light reading. And in the meantime…

Fly Smart,


Deming, W. Edward. Out of the Crisis. MIT Press.

Fayol, Henri. 2013. General and Industrial Management. Mansfield Centre, CT.: Martino Publishing.

Marine Corps University Research Library. History and Traditions of the United States Marine Corps: Ethics, Values and Leadership Development. 2023.

Simon, Herbert A. 2014. Administrative behavior: a study of decision-making processes in administrative organizations. New York: Free Press.

Written by Clark

May 26, 2022 at 3:00 pm

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