ethical leadership

Ethical Leadership: 5 Traits of VADM James Stockdale

VADM James Stockdale, USN (Ret) passed away 13 years ago this month. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for inspirational and ethical leadership as America’s senior POW in Vietnam for nearly eight years. His five timeless lessons of being a Moralist, Jurist, Teacher, Steward and Philosopher live on today.

  • Moralist: Commitment to a personal code of conduct
  • Jurist: Establish guidance which can be implemented in times of adversity
  • Teacher: Set the example of self-discipline, establishing a motivational climate and creating organizational pride
  • Steward: Serve as the standard for personal commitment and loyalty
  • Philosopher: Be able to reason, explain reality and deal with uncertainty

Admiral Stockdale’s example profoundly impacted my career. I first read about him in grade school, had the privilege to meet him for the first time during my plebe year at the Naval Academy and we reconnected several times during my career. He was one of my first military role models of “Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity” which later became my watchwords of excellence. I’m proud the U.S. Navy’s most prestigious Leadership Award is named in his honor, and that the Naval Academy’s Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership is dedicated to “Empowering future leaders to make courageous and ethical decisions.” As long as young leaders follow Admiral Stockdale’s guidance, our future is bright.

Looking for meaningful reading on ethical leadership this summer? Check out the collection of Vice Admiral Stockdale’s essays and speeches in “Thoughts of Philosophical Fighter Pilot.”

The Becker T3Group focuses on improving personal and team results by reflecting on real world examples of leadership and translating “T3” practices into corporate pillars of performance, productivity and profit.  For more T3, visit:

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