Monday, January 4, 2010

Captain John Paul Jones' Leadership: Success mixed with Failure

Most of us in the Navy are familiar with the Captain John Paul Jones who was revered as a hero for exhibiting dauntless courage and unconquerable persistence in the face of overwhelming odds. Such was not always the case. In the 18th and 19th centuries, his professionalism and abilities as a "complete" naval officer were not yet appreciated. He was reviled by many for his criticism of others, inability to credit his subordinates and his relentless self-promotion (all of which sound very familiar).

In the 20th century, his reputation began to flourish as we began:
  • to appreciate his strategic vision of placing the nation's interest over his own personal gain,
  • to see his rise to the top levels of the new American Navy through dint of hard work and application,
  • to acknowledge his skill as a naval architect,
  • to recognize his continued self-study to better himself as an officer and commander,
  • to understand his attempts to reform the Navy and
  • to value his efforts to substitute merit and ability in place of nepotism and influence.
Each of these things marked him as an officer who sought to professionalize the early Navy.

From: E. Gordon Bowen-Hassell, Dennis M. Conrad, and Mark L. Hayes Sea Raiders of the American Revolution: The Continental Navy in European Waters. Washington, DC: Naval Historical Center, 2003.

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