Army Values

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The list of Army Values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage, which comprise the acronym LDRSHIP.

Soldiers and Army Civilians enter the Army with personal values developed in childhood and nurtured over years of personal experience. By taking an oath to serve the nation and the institution, one agrees to live and act by a new set of values—Army Values. The Army Values consist of the principles, standards, and qualities considered essential for successful Army leaders. They are fundamental to helping Soldiers and Army Civilians make the right decision in any situation. Teaching values is an important leader responsibility by creating a common understanding of the Army Values and expected standards.

The Army recognizes seven values that all Army members must develop. When read in sequence, the first letters of the Army Values form the acronym “LDRSHIP”:

The list of Army Values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage, which comprise the acronym LDRSHIP.

L – Loyalty: Bear True Faith And Allegiance To The U.S. Constitution, The Army, Your Unit And Other Soldiers

All Soldiers and Army Civilians swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution established the legal basis for the Army in Article I, Section 8, where it outlines congressional responsibilities regarding America’s armed forces. Consequently, leaders—as members of the armed forces or Army Civilians—have an obligation to be faithful to the Army and its people.
To create strong organizations, superiors, subordinates, and peers must embrace loyalty. Good units build loyalty and trust through training. Leaders earn subordinates’ loyalty by training them well, treating them fairly, and living the Army Values. Loyalty and trust are extremely critical for the successful day-today operations of all organizations. Ultimately, loyalty extends to other Services and agencies. The reality of modern operations shows that unified action partners are essential to successful mission outcomes.

D – Duty: Fulfill Your Obligations

Duty extends beyond law, regulation, and orders. Professionals consistently strive to do their best. Army leaders exercise initiative when they fulfill the purpose, not merely the letter, of received orders. With initiative, leaders take responsibility for their actions and those of their subordinates. Conscientiousness is a human trait that internalizes duty. Conscientious leaders have a sense of responsibility for personal contributions to the Army, demonstrated through dedicated effort, organization, thoroughness, reliability, and practicality. Conscientiousness guides leaders to do what is right.

R – Respect: Treat People as They Should Be Treated

Respect for the individual is the basis for the Geneva Convention; this body of law codifies the ideal that Soldiers, even in the most trying of circumstances, are bound to treat others with dignity and respect. Army leaders must work with people from a wide range of backgrounds. An Army leader should prevent misunderstandings arising from cultural differences. Actively seeking to learn about different cultures and being sensitive to other cultures will aid in mentoring, coaching, and counseling subordinates. Leaders must actively seek opportunities to better understand other cultures, see other perspectives, and appreciate what others find important. Army leaders should consistently foster a climate that treats everyone with dignity and respect, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, creed, or religious belief.

S – Selfless Service: Put the Welfare of the Nation, the Army and Your Subordinates Before Your Own

People often refer to the military as “the Service.” Selfless service means doing what is right for the nation, the Army, the organization, and subordinates. While the needs of the Army and the nation should come first, it does not imply leaders should neglect their Families or themselves. To the contrary, such neglect weakens a leader and can cause the Army more harm than good.

H – Honor: Live Up to Army Values

Honor provides the moral compass for character and personal conduct for all members of the Army. Honor holds the Army Values together. Honor requires a person to demonstrate an understanding of what is right. Military ceremonies recognizing individual and unit achievements demonstrate and reinforce the importance the Army places on honor. Living honorably, in line with the Army Values, sets an example for every member of the organization and contributes to an organization’s positive climate and morale.
How leaders conduct themselves and meet obligations define them as persons and leaders. In turn, how the Army meets the nation’s commitments defines the Army as an institution. Honor demands putting the Army Values above self-interest and above career and personal comfort. Honor gives the strength of will to live according to the Army Values, especially in the face of personal danger.

I – Integrity: Do What is Right, Legally and Morally

Leaders of integrity consistently follow clear principles. The Army relies on leaders of integrity who possess high moral standards and are honest in word and deed. Leaders are honest to others by not presenting themselves or their actions as anything other than what they are, remaining committed to truth.
Leaders of integrity do the right thing because their character permits nothing less. To instill the Army Values in others, leaders must demonstrate them. Personal values inevitably extend beyond the Army Values, including such things as political, cultural, or religious beliefs. However, as an Army leader and a person of integrity, these values should reinforce, not contradict, the Army Values. Conflicts between personal and Army Values should be resolved before a leader can expect to become a morally complete Army leader. If in doubt, a leader may consult a mentor with respected values and judgment.

P – Personal Courage: Face Fear, Danger, or Adversity

Personal courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to put fear aside and do what is necessary. Personal courage takes two forms: physical and moral. Effective leaders demonstrate both. Physical courage requires overcoming fears of bodily harm and doing one’s duty. It triggers bravery that allows a Soldier to take risks in combat in spite of the fear of wounds or even death.
Moral courage is the willingness to stand firm on values, principles, and convictions. It enables all leaders to stand up for what they believe is right, regardless of the consequences. Leaders, who take full responsibility for their decisions and actions even when things go wrong, display moral courage. Moral courage also expresses itself as candor.

TLS7: The Leader’s SMARTbook,  7th Ed. (Leadership as a Dynamic of Combat Power)This article is an extract from "TLS7: The Leader’s SMARTbook, 7th Ed. (Leadership as a Dynamic of Combat Power)" by The Lightning Press. Download a free PDF sample and learn more at:  TLS7: The Leader’s SMARTbook, 7th Ed. (Leadership as a Dynamic of Combat Power).

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