LEADERSHIP: Is Ty a Captain or a wayward Corporal?

The question was posed today in Diana's downbeat what kind of traits our dream coach would have. Fantastic question. A lot of people had some awesome thoughts that I fully agreed with. The one that I couldn't get out of my mind though that I felt encompassed them all was Leadership.


Three years ago I graduated with an accounting degree at UVU. Upon completion I signed up for the MBA program at UNLV. I thought, at the time, that business was the next step in life but had no idea I wasn't quite ready to go back to school. I moved down to Vegas and after I went to the first week of classes, I quickly dropped out cuz I was convinced that I would probably have a mental breakdown if I went back to school at that time. After dropping out I was left with the question, what to do now? "Well how about the Marines?", I thought. I was soon after jumping through obstacle courses, sprinting through forests, and learning the demands, qualities, and traits of true leadership at Officer Candidate School. For the next 10 months of my life I was going to learn the hard way what it takes to be a leader.

What makes a leader?

Some are born to lead, some are not. Most everyone though has the ability to develop at least some level of leadership. It was ingrained in my head that leaders possessed and consistently strive to develop the following 14 leadership traits:

  • Justice
  • Judgement
  • Dependability
  • Integrity
  • Decisiveness
  • Tact
  • Initiative
  • Endurance
  • Bearing
  • Unselfishness
  • Courage
  • Knowledge
  • Loyalty
  • Enthusiasm

As officer "candidates" we were required to memorize these traits and know them by heart, receiving "encouragement" and "instruction" if we forgot. It takes years on average to even come close to check marking each and everyone of these traits, but it is usually pretty obvious who's trying and who his not. Equally important for us candidates was to know the the 11 leadership principles.

1. Know yourself and seek self improvement. Evaluate yourself by using the leadership traits and determine your strengths and weaknesses.

2. Be technically and tactically proficient. A person who knows their job thoroughly and possesses a wide field of knowledge. Before you can lead, you must be able to do the job.

3. Know Your People And Look Out For Their Welfare. This is one of the most important of the leadership principles. A leader must make a conscientious effort to observe his Marines(players) and how they react to different situations.

4. Keep Your Personnel Informed. To promote efficiency and morale, a leader should inform the Marines (players) in his unit (team) of all happenings and give reasons why things are to be done. Informing your Marines of the situation makes them feel that they are a part of the team and not just a cog in a wheel.

5. Set The Example. A leader who shows professional competence, courage and integrity sets high personal standards for himself before he can rightfully demand it from others.

6. Ensure That The Task Is Understood, Supervised, And Accomplished. Leaders must give clear, concise orders that cannot be misunderstood, and then by close supervision, ensure that these orders are properly executed.

7. Train Your Marines (players) As A Team. Train, play and operate as a team. Be sure that each Marine knows his/her position and responsibilities within the team framework.

8. Make Sound And Timely Decisions. The leader must be able to rapidly estimate a situation and make a sound decision based on that estimation. Hesitation or a reluctance to make a decision leads subordinates to lose confidence in your abilities as a leader. Loss of confidence in turn creates confusion and hesitation within the unit.

9. Develop A Sense Of Responsibility Among Your Subordinates

10. Employ Your Command Within its Capabilities. A leader must have a thorough knowledge of the tactical and technical capabilities of the command. Successful completion of a task depends upon how well you know your unit’s capabilities.

11. Seek Responsibilities And Take Responsibility. Seeking responsibilities also means that you take responsibility for your actions. Regardless of the actions of your subordinates, the responsibility for decisions and their application falls on you.

Do these traits and principles define Ty?

From the outside looking in it is tough to say what defines Ty, which generally isn't a good sign but is not always an indicator of a bad leader. Some have simply not been observed which doesn't mean that he doesn't possess them. I think cases can be made for Ty possessing integrity, loyalty, and enthusiasm although some can make a good case that his loyalty is misplaced. I have a little more trouble picking out a principle that defines Ty... maybe 3 and 5?

Question for you: Which leadership traits and principles have you seen in action that define Ty Corbin?

Captain or wayward Corporal

If you aren't familiar with the military, you should know that there exists two general groups with in each branch. There are the Officers and the Enlisted. These groups work closely together but are not allowed to "hang out" or fraternize among each other unless it is in the proper setting (at least in the Marine Corps). In the most basic sense, Officers (coach) are trained and expected to lead the Enlisted and eventually other officers. They are expected to make the life and death decisions and expected to live with the consequence that follows. Enlisted (players) are trained to follow orders aggressively and later receive opportunity's to lead. (These are merely the basic roles both groups have. The last thing I want to do is mislead you to think one group is better than the other or vice-versa, because they're not.)

The purpose of this distinction is to know that Ty was hired to be an officer. He's almost 4 years into it which would just about put him at the rank of Captain in the military. But has he been Captain material? Can he lead? Or is he closer to a wayward Corporal that follows? One that is buddy-buddy with everyone. One that must be told what to do because he's on his own program. One that is given simple, specific tasks yet fails to do them. One that is setup for success by higher, having his options limited in order to force him in the right direction, so he can succeed at least to some degree. One that continues to misunderstand what it means to take responsibility.

**Now this certainly doesn't define the average Corporal that I've met, but it does describe the wayward ones. Captains aren't perfect either, but they're expected to possess these traits and implement the principles or they likely wont make it past Captain.


We need our coach to be a Captain that possess a majority, not just one or two, of the leadership traits and principles previously outlined. A Captain that can eventual reach Colonel/General status like the Popovich's and Sloan's of the league. We can't have a wayward Corporal leading the charge or we'll just get stuck at the ditch when trying to reach the top of the hill.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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