Leadership Ethics 101
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Leadership Ethics 101

A guide to leading, exemplified by Captain America.

Leadership Ethics 101
Samantha Santos

Many of the traits of a superb leader boil down to modesty. Maybe that’s why people think of Steve Rogers as a leading example rather than Tony Stark. No one can contest that Stark is a leader, but his ego gets in the way more often than not. And whereas Steve’s stubbornness keeps him on the track of justice, Tony’s leads him astray. Look at Phil Coulson, Carol Danvers, Sharon Carter, etc. They, among others, are considered great leaders of S.H.I.E.L.D., but they do their jobs with a certain level of humility that allows them to stay focused on the greater good. However, modesty alone does not mystically transform one into an awesome leader (You'd at least have to add in some gamma radiation or something.). Here are some other tips and tricks Cap has shown us that are keys to his leadership ethic:

Stick to What You Stand For

Steve Rogers stands for justice. There is no question about it. He makes it very clear that that’s what he stands for and he holds true to it even when it isn’t the easiest path. Strong leaders have a motto or mission statement that lets the team know what the innate goal is and shows them how to get there, without taking shortcuts.

Be Willing to do the Job Yourself

This is extremely important for two main reasons. A: You should never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do. B: You should know what you are asking of your team members and be knowledgeable and prepared for any obstacles they may face. The best way to know what works and doesn’t work is to have experienced it firsthand.

Be the Example

Hold yourself Accountable. A very efficient way to convince your team to do something is to get down and do it too. Show them how important it is to be constantly growing. Show them how to better themselves. Show them the dedication you have to your tasks and that they are not alone on their ventures.

Be Prepared

What does Cap do for fun? He trains! He wants to be sure he is always ready for whatever is about to come his way. It’s not always possible, but being at the top of your game is always helpful in a situation. Encourage your team to train also; it is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page and fundamentally sound.


If I had to choose a number one on this list, this would be it! Remember, communication, communication, communication –I cannot stress how important this is! Every single other factor will be affected by the amount and ways the team communicates with each other and how you communicate with them. Don’t ever let your team feel in limbo, like they don’t know why they are doing what they are doing. Don’t ever let your team feel stranded, like they don’t know how to do what they are doing. Even communicate the small things, like just letting them know that you recognize they are there, will go a few extra miles.

Fairly Analyze Your Team

Learn and utilize the strengths and weaknesses of your team -without bias. When each teammate can do what they’re best at, it gives your whole team characteristics of its own. Knowing these will help form plans of action and even help you decide which missions are best to accept.

Focus and Make Smart Advances

This one should be obvious, but if you’re going to make your choices all willy-nilly, then you have no business leading. When the world seems chaotic, the team depends on you to provide focus and direction. Use this to your advantage, if your team stays calm in the storms, it will give them a huge leg up on other teams. Make sure you consider all your options and consequences before you send your team out the door. If you’re having trouble figuring out all your options, the team probably has a few ideas, and at least considering those makes the members feel valued and trusted. Plus, they know you are really trying to make the right decisions.

Be for the People to a Point

A very unique skill Captain America showcases time and time again, is how to be personable and build relationships, without being a pushover. He is subtle about getting to know people and he founds his relationships on respect for one another. If someone wrongs a member, he will not only stand up for them, but he will stand there and badger the wrong-doer until it has been righted.

Take Responsibility

If something goes wrong, be the first to step up and admit it. Sometimes there will be an obvious scapegoat, but even if someone has to be let go, you should still shift the focus onto what you will do to prevent any reoccurrences and how you will become better out of the circumstances provided.

Share the Cred

If your team accomplishes something excellent, let them know! When other entities recognize it, don’t take all the glory. It may seem unfair to take credit for the bad, but not the good, but in the long run you will be glad you did. Satisfaction can be great motivation for a group and if you let your whole team shine, they will work all the harder with you.

Be Positive

One of the most detrimental things that can stray a team from happiness and success is for the leaders to stand around complaining and bad-mouthing. Be mature. Be professional. Hold your tongue. Even if there is plenty to complain about, don’t you dare put that negative energy out there. Everyone knows your entity is not perfect, and most people associated with you already know the complications and irritations. If you’re not a high-tiered leader that can do something about it, don’t focus on those things. If you are, then for Pete’s sake, shut up and take care of it!

Have Faith

If you, your team, or someone on the team messes up, don’t push pause or stop. Like Captain America, simply refuse to give up. The likelihood of a group being successful after the one organizing it and calling the shots loses her/his motivation is slim to none. Get back up, help the team up, and dust yourselves off. Or, better yet, don’t dust yourselves off and run all the harder. The best leaders figure out how to turn a failure or an upset into an inspirational event. Even if you have doubts, don’t let your team see it for a second. Everyone needs someone who unconditionally believes in her/him.

Be Flexible/Adaptable

You’ve probably heard, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” What that absolutely does not mean is to keep trying the same thing over and over. Don’t be stubborn about how to get a job done. All too often, the unpredictable happens. Maybe someone becomes sick or injured and things are not able to proceed the way you had originally intended. Have a back-up plan or two already in place, and be excited at the challenge to think on your feet and see what new things you and your team can learn from one another.

Be Willing to Step Back

One of the most noticeable things about Steve Roger’s ability to lead, is that he is also very able to follow. Most of the time, leadership roles seem to fall into his lap, but as long as someone else is really on fire and in line with his morale, he is more than willing to let them have their moment. Honestly, it can be a great moment to gain new perspectives on the team and experience the thrill of the fight without quite so much pressure.

Whether you're trying to become a leader or have been guiding people what seems like a lifetime, we can all take something away from Captain Roger's comics (now his movies as well), which could very well be renamed "Leadership Ethics 101."

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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