From writings on the foundation of moral obligation
- William G. O'Neill
Remember "Don't give up the ship"?
Or, "You may fire when ready, Gridley"?
What about "Damn the torpedoes—full speed ahead"?
Commander James Cannon, skipper of the destroyer USS Mullinnix, tried unsuccessfully to add his own ringing battle cry to the Navy's lexicon of heroic challenges. As Mullinnix arrived for a third tour off Vietnam, Commander Cannon announced:
"We are ready to step in the batter's box and belt a few pitches with hard stuff now that the contract is signed for our third season with the big leagues."Somehow that never made it into the history books.
If you have a battle cry or great quote related to Information Warfare, I'd love to hear it. Just post it as a comment.
The typical recent query from young officers goes something like this: “Why, Professor, is the leadership you teach and the leadership we learn not in line with what we’ve encountered in the fleet?”
One junior officer in Mayport, Fla., explained: “I typically get thrown off the bridge at least once during a watch by a senior officer in some sort of profanity-laced tirade. Most of the time I have no idea what I did to cause the explosion.” **NOTE: Some Admirals are trying to fix this - more and more Commanding Officers are being relieved for "poor command climate".
Maybe there’s more to the recent calamities than “poor seamanship and weak navigation skills” — these being perhaps only indicators of more significant problems. Maybe there’s something more deeply wrong with the Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) culture — something that produces a dysfunctional command climate which erodes effectiveness, teamwork, cohesion and war-fighting skills.
“There’s definitely a SWO culture. Thrive off of getting as little sleep as humanly possible, think Aegis is the greatest thing to happen to the human race, make fun of the folks who ‘don’t get it,’ talk down about the non-watchstanding supply rates, and you’re ‘in.’ It’s a bit like high school. SWOs eat their young. You earn respect for ripping into people and just being generally ‘hard-core.’ ”
“SWOs eat their young. Your job: stay on the good side of the bullies, the feared and unrelenting senior officers on your ship. Avoid being on the receiving end of their wrath. I am ashamed to say that I contributed to this culture to avoid finding myself on the other side of the table. To deal with the bullies, you become a bully. And, if you survive, you wear your SWO pin ‘like a badge of honor.’ ”
These comments provide a classic illustration of in-groups and out-groups, and the enormous amount of wasted energy that goes into their formation and maintenance. Far from reinforcing the value prioritization of ship-shipmate-self, these groups create conflict, inhibit information flow, and have a negative effect on the good order and discipline of the unit.
In fairness, several SWOs reported highly contrasting cultures on their ships which produced inherently positive experiences. These SWOs report senior leaders who are “civilized, respectable, tactful, knowledgeable men” that were like father figures and teachers whom you cared more about letting down than fearing an impending eruption. However, these SWOs were quick to add that theirs was not the normal experience and not indicative of the dominant SWO culture. “My ship was an anomaly,” was a typical refrain.
Something is amiss. If the descriptions of the dominant SWO culture are accurate, then it’s no wonder ships are running aground, boats are colliding and sailors are being lost overboard.
Think about it: Verbal abuse. Public degradation. Sleep deprivation. Fear. Temperamental outbursts. High school antics. Bullying. These descriptors are more indicative of hazing rituals than meaningful combat training aspiring to build watch team cohesion and capable war-fighters.
It should be acknowledged that any thoughtful, contemplative leader understands that there are times when emotionally charged engagement and public denigrations might be necessary and appropriate. Purposefully wonton, reckless, replicated behaviors would qualify for such a response.Read the full article in NAVY TIMES here.
Paul Kinsinger, "Holding leaders accountable for leadership malpractice," March 1, 2009 Thunderbird Knowledge Network
“Alignment ensures that our efforts are applied to the problem and not to each other. It also empowers our subordinates to act on their own in support of our efforts without permission. Transparency makes it clear to our constituents and their families what we’re doing and why. It helps build trust between us and the Sailors we serve.”
Note: I can remember two words - alignment and transparency. Here's hoping our Sailors and their families get some of that in the detailing process.
- love our Sailors
- lean toward yes, and
- do the right thing.
“The first of these guiding principles is to love our Sailors. With this in mind, we treat every Sailor as a valued asset, with dignity and respect. We have provided and will continue to provide world-class HR (human resource) services and show them every day that the Navy is a great organization to be a part of. Saying ‘love our Sailors’ is unexpected, emotional, and it is a message that Sailors truly understand."
“Our second guiding principle is that we lean toward yes. Our default setting has been adjusted and set to ‘YES’. By making this change, we have constantly challenged assumptions and the status quo in pursuit of excellence. A positive culture has been created here at Navy Personnel Command where the easy answer is not always the right answer and we are willing to point that out.”
“The third and final principle is that we do the right thing. By upholding the highest standards of honesty, transparency, fairness, and responsibility we have increased the efficiency and effectiveness of this organization. We have carefully balanced our responsibility to be good stewards of the government, while always considering how best to serve the Navy, our Sailors, and their families.”
Okay, so it's not really that way. But we can dream, right?
If that’s too hard, or you’re a star and have trouble digesting my sentiment, then get out of my service. Find employment at a next-gen Enron or something. It’ll pay better.
If this disgusts you, I invite you to call Congress.
Do that, and dollars will be saved and the next management fad will be even more irrelevant and better ignored. That would be good for the Navy and all who serve in it.
Ensure that the people in your organization know clearly what's expected of them.
Ensure they have the right training.
Provide them the right tools.
Then, cheer them on.
A moment after collision the sub-was raked with machine-gun fire. "Clear the bridge," Gilmore ordered. Four men, two of them hurt, slid down the hatch, but not Gilmore, who was helplessly wounded. His last order, in a crisp voice, was "Take her down." He had to say it once more before his executive officer closed the hatch, took her down, leaving his skipper to drown. The Growler made it home, to fight again.From TIME Magazine, March 1951