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Bold Leader Spotlight: Lieutenant General Loretta ‘Lori’ Reynolds, USMC

Lt. Gen Lori Reynolds Bold Leader Spotlight

As any military veteran knows, moving up the ranks requires commitment, valor, integrity, and the highest level of performance. Military leadership is not something that is given. Instead, it is earned through hard work, sacrifice, valor, and commitment.  Advancing in the armed forces requires constant training, deployments, physical fitness, performance scrutiny, and personal sacrifice.  Military commanders by nature are entrusted with the lives of the troops under their supervision. Therefore, assuming command over thousands of personnel, while overseeing a vital aspect of a military branch’s purview, is a responsibility few ever shoulder. Even in peacetime, challenges abound. But if you ask Lieutenant General Loretta “Lori” Reynolds of the United States Marine Corps, getting the job done — is just part of the job. That’s just a small part of why Bold Business considers Lt. Gen Reynolds a bold leader.

a cartoon of lieutenant general loretta "lori" reynolds of marines
Lieutenant General Loretta “Lori” Reynolds Of Marines epitomizes the 14 leadership traits and is the very definition of a Bold Leader.

For a United States Marine, it is all about the mission and the importance of keeping the mission central to each leadership decision they make. Marines live by the acronym JJDIDTIEBUCKLE which represents their 14 leadership traits. These include Justice, Judgment, Dependability, Initiative, Decisiveness, Tact, Integrity, Endurance, Bearing, Unselfishness, Courage, Knowledge, Loyalty and Enthusiasm. Being a military veteran myself, there is one constant about the 14 traits and that is none stands alone or above the others. From showing confidence in others to leading by example and with humility, to being driven by results, Lt. Gen Reynolds epitomizes the 14 leadership traits and is the very definition of a Bold Leader.

What Does it Take to become a Flag or General Officer?

Lt. Gen Reynolds is one of only three women to ever become a three-star Marine Corps general and the first in 9 years. To put this into perspective,  in 2018, General and Flag officers represent only .067% of the U.S. military total active-duty force. In the Marine Corps, which arguably has the hardest path to advancement, there are only 17 Lieutenant Generals or .0092% of total marines. To achieve this rank, the officer undergoes a rigorous review and confirmation by the U.S. Senate, who decides appointments, extensions, assignments, promotions, and retirements. For a Marine, promotion is not an acknowledgment of your past accomplishments; rather a recognition of what is expected in the future.

Lt. Gen Reynolds career has seen her command a recruiting station, the 9th communication battalion in support of 1 MEF during Operation Iraqi Freedom II, Joint Staff J6, 1 MEF where she deployed to Helmand Province Afganistan, the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, and the Corps’ Cyberspace Command at Fort Meade. She now serves as deputy Marine Corps commandant for information and commander of Marine Corps Forces Strategic Command. And along the way, she’s exhibited more than a few traits that showcase her bold leadership.

Lieutenant General Lori Reynolds Bold Leadership Throughout Her Military Career

A Baltimore native, Lt. Gen Reynolds did not come from a military family. Despite this, she had a vision and was committed to realizing it. In 1982, she enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy, which is often referred to as a leadership laboratory. This was just six years after Congress approved female admissions. After graduating in 1986, she commissioned a U.S. Marine Corps Second Lieutenant. The Corps has been her home for the last 32 years.

Being a first is not something new for this bold leader. Lt. Gen Reynolds was the first female Marine to hold a command position in battle in Afghanistan. She was also the first woman to serve as commander at Parris Island and has been in charge at posts throughout the world.

Lt. General Lori Reynolds Discussing Leading Marines
Lt. Gen Reynolds Discusses Leadership

Showing Confidence in Others

During Lt. Gen Reynolds’ tenure at the U.S. Naval Academy, she played for the women’s basketball team. In addition, she participated in soccer and softball. Her experiences taught her the importance of teamwork and inclusion, as well as the value of showing confidence in others. These elements have become a trademark of her bold leadership style.

“The things I learned on the basketball court absolutely helped me as a young Marine officer, in terms of being part of a team, leading the team, never letting the team down. The Marine Corps is all about team work; everyone doing their part for the team mission.” – LtGen Reynolds

Clearly, Lt. Gen Reynolds sees the Marine Corps as a family. She believes in people and supports the idea that everyone should have opportunities to excel. This philosophy includes lending support to those committed to working hard and adhering to standards. Throughout her career, she has constantly pushed others toward leadership development.

Lt. Gen Reynolds Leading by Example and With Humility

Bold leadership does not have to blow its own trumpet. Bold leadership is reflected in the attitudes, behaviors, and accomplishments achieved over time. In this regard, Lt. Gen Reynolds furthers her leadership style by accomplishing her mission effectively and with humility.

Jim Mattis Secretary of Defense Discussing Bold Leadership in the Marine Corps
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis Famously Discussing the Marine Corps

Dignity and respect are earned in the Marines, and she attained these by serving as a role model. Of course, just as Lt. Gen Reynolds has been inspired by past Marine and Navy heroes and leaders, so too does she inspire others. But to her, leading from the front – whether it be by visiting remote outposts in the Afghanistan countryside or advocating strongly in the staff room – is just part of the job. And it starts with her intellect and the way she strategically plans.

“I hope when those young ladies see that they have a female lieutenant colonel in charge of them and a female sergeant major and others, they will say, ‘I can do this.’ If I provide that for them, then I’m happy.” – Lieutenant General Lori Reynolds

A Results-Based Style in a Results-Based Culture

It’s hard to argue against the notion that the Marine Corps is a performance-based institution. After all, mission failure can often have catastrophic results. Understanding that the Marine Corps is a performance-based culture, two things are critical to success. Obviously, one is having a hard work ethic, and the other is adhering to standards. Throughout her career, Lt. Gen Reynolds has taken these attributes to heart.

The results speak for themselves. Being driven by results in a results-based culture has led to mission success time and time again.

Senator John McCaine III talks about defining ones existence
Senator John McCain III (USNA ’58) was a veteran of distinguished service who knew all about bold leadership

From Afghanistan to Iraq, she has been in some of the toughest environments and situations as a Marine. And at the helm of the Marine Corps Cyberspace Command, she has led the nation’s defenses against cyber-attacks and hackers. For anyone who has served, the Marine Corps is more a mindset than a set of capabilities. Its reputation is based on facing adversity with a fighting spirit or what Marines call esprit de corps. And throughout her career Lt. Gen Reynolds has done just that through sheer will and perseverance.

By staying true to her values, fighting for causes bigger than herself and setting the U.S. Marine Corps leadership standards, she is establishing new firsts and I believe the best is yet to come.

It would not come as a surprise to see another first – perhaps the first female in the U.S. Marine Corps to earn 4 stars.

Perpetuating Bold Leadership into the Future

When one considers the career of Lt. Gen Reynolds, it’s impossible not to see that her achievements have been outstanding but she could not have achieved this rank without the valor of the troops she commanded and those that were her mentors along the way.

Indeed, her elite ranking as a three-star Marine Corps general speaks volumes. The bold leadership traits she exhibits serve as an inspiration to any leader, civilian or military. And because of her bold leadership, she has not only excelled but inspired women and men for generations to come.

Without question, the Marine Corps has been well served by this truly bold leader. I wish her the best and thank her for long service to our country.

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