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In leadership, a quote resonates with profound significance: “Attitude is a weapon system.” This sentiment, steeped in the wisdom of the U.S. Marine Corps, carries an incredible weight of truth for businesses of all sizes and industries.

“The Marine philosophy is to recruit for attitude and to train for skills. Marines believe that attitude is a weapon system. We searched for intangible character traits: a quest for adventure, a desire to serve with the elite, and the intention to be in top physical condition. The strenuous task of the recruiter was to find young men and women with the right stuff to send to boot camp.” – Jim Mattis

Why Attitude Matters

In the fiercely competitive landscape of today’s business world, organizations increasingly recognize the importance of attitude and character traits in recruiting strong leaders. As evidenced by abundant research and testimonials, hiring for attitude over skills is a strategy that pays dividends in the long run.

But why is attitude such a critical factor? The answer lies in its transformative potential. An individual with the right attitude can learn new skills, adapt to changing circumstances, and inspire others through positivity and resilience. They embody values like accountability, flexibility, passion, and attention to detail. These qualities cannot be taught but can be recognized, nurtured, and harnessed for organizational success.

The Marine Philosophy in Business

The Marine Corps has long understood this principle. They recruit for attitude and train for skills. They seek individuals who display courage, commitment, and a sense of duty—those willing to dedicate themselves to a cause greater than their gain. This approach has created an institution renowned for its discipline, effectiveness, and leadership.

Businesses can adopt this philosophy by prioritizing character and attitude in their recruitment process. This doesn’t mean disregarding competence or experience but understanding that these qualities can be developed with the right attitude.

Strategies for Success

How can businesses identify these intangible character traits during the hiring process?

Firstly, it’s essential to ask the right questions. Instead of focusing solely on past experiences or technical skills, delve into how candidates have overcome challenges, handled criticism, or stayed motivated in difficult situations. These responses can provide valuable insights into their attitude and character.

Secondly, consider implementing personality assessments into your recruitment process. These can help identify traits like empathy, self-monitoring, and professionalism that often indicate a positive and resilient attitude.

There are several options available. One of the best is the Color Code by Dr. Taylor Hartman. It is the only one that analyzes motivation for behavior—a worthy reason to choose him over others.

Lastly, foster a company culture that values and rewards the right attitude. When employees see that their efforts are recognized and appreciated, it creates a virtuous cycle that encourages others to emulate these behaviors.

The Power of Attitude

As we navigate the complexities of the 21st-century business landscape, let us remember the wisdom encapsulated in the Marine philosophy. Let us recall the words of General James Mattis, “The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.” In the context of business leadership, this battlefield is the competitive market, and the weapon system is our attitude.

Embracing this philosophy can transform our organizations, creating environments where individuals are inspired to learn, grow, and lead. By recruiting for attitude and training for skills, we can create competent, committed, adaptable, and resilient teams.

Strive to embody the spirit of the Marine Corps in our businesses. Let us recognize that the power of attitude is a weapon system in its own right—one that can drive our organizations toward unprecedented success.

Recruit for the personality. You can teach everything else.


  1. Why Attitude Beats Aptitude When Hiring
  2. Why You Should Hire for Character Over Competence
  3. Hiring for Attitude Over Experience: What the Numbers Show
  4. The Importance of Recruiting for Personality
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