After two long years of schoolwork, I recently completed my MBA just before the holidays. With all my newfound spare time, I have been reading a lot lately. I am particularly interested in marketing leadership. I’ve had the chance to read several works from across disciplines. While many of these works are filled with compelling insights, I found that one text painted a portrait of a leader far better than the rest. What’s that work? The Army Ranger Handbook.

In the first chapter of the handbook, leadership is defined as the most essential element of a mission. To be an effective leader, one must follow the Be, Know, and Do principles. Below is a summary of these principles:

Principle #1: Be

  • Be technically proficient
  • Be courageous, committed, and candid
  • Be a leader with integrity

Principle #2: Know

  • Know yourself, your character, your skills
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses
  • Seek continual improvement and work to overcome your weaknesses
  • Know your team
  • Train your team for the rigors of day to day operations
  • Take care of your team’s needs
  • Discipline and reward your team appropriately

Principle #3: Do

  • Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions
  • Exercise initiative
  • Demonstrate resourcefulness
  • Take advantage of opportunities that will lead to victory
  • Accept fair criticism
  • Correct your mistakes
  • Assess situations rapidly
  • Make sound and timely decisions
  • Gather essential information
  • Announce decisions in time for your team to react
  • Consider long and short term effects of your decision
  • Set high but attainable standards for your team
  • Be willing to do what you require of your team
  • Share hardships with your team
  • Keep subordinates informed and help them make decisions within your intent
  • Encourage initiative
  • Improve teamwork
  • Enhance morale
  • Delegate work to subordinates to show you trust them
  • Ensure team understands tasks
  • Supervise your team to ensure subordinates accomplish tasks
  • Cross-train teams until they are confident in their technical capabilities


So, why should you lead like an Army Ranger? The principles that make a successful Army Ranger leader translate to the business world. If you think of the bosses, teachers, or coaches that inspired you the most – they likely embodied several of these qualities. On the other hand, when you think of your worst past superiors, they most likely lacked many of these skills. Right?

While I don’t think there is any leader that perfectly embodies all of these qualities, I think this is a model that all leaders should pursue. For me, this blog post is about reminding myself in 20 days, 20 months, or even 20 years of what I should strive for. I wish you the best of luck in doing so too.

If you are interested in reading more, check out the Army Ranger Handbook.