Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Intrusive Leadership - Part of the Covenant

Intrusive leadership is based on the philosophy that the leader and the Sailor share responsibility for a Sailor’s success or failure. It is more than just telling Sailors what to do. Intrusive leadership reflects the fact that Sailors are people who matter. It indicates an understanding that Sailors' well being (or lack thereof) has an effect on their success or failure. The intrusive leader is actively concerned for the welfare of every Sailor under their charge. This requires responsible, proactive behavior on the part of the leader. Sailors are seen as individuals whose uniqueness and diversity are taken into consideration from the beginning of their Naval career until they retire or transfer to the Fleet Reserve.

Characteristics of Intrusive Leaders:

They must truly know the Navy. There are multiple sources of help for our Sailors. If our leaders have a stake in the Sailor’s successful retention and career progression, they must be familiar with the services available that can prevent potential problems or rescue a struggling Sailor. On any ship or shore station these usually include counseling and referral services, tutoring, career counseling, financial counseling, support services, non-traditional education programs, financial counseling, and a myriad of other programs. It is not enough just to know that programs exist; it is necessary to know what each program does and the Sailors it serves.

Leaders must not only know the resources of the Navy, but know the staff involved in the various programs. It is up to our Navy leaders to become well-acquainted with other Navy professionals who can help. Knowing, specifically, to whom a Sailor can be referred will also increase the Sailor’s chances of success. It is only logical that a Sailor is more likely to follow through with an appointment if he knows who he is looking for rather than just walking into an unfamiliar department. Unfortunately, in some departments there are officers, Chiefs and Leading Petty Officers who are less personable than others. Sending a Sailor to a particular person with, perhaps, a "heads up" call in advance can assure a welcome from a fellow Navy professional of choice rather than a negative experience. This also gives them some background so that he or she is prepared at the first meeting to help the Sailor. Additionally, the call in advance may prevent sending the Sailor to the wrong person or department and, therefore, on a wild goose chase instead of a successful mission.

Intrusive leaders should be trained in all relevant areas that have a direct impact on the Sailor's well being and success. This is not to say that leaders have to know as much as the professional staff in every career field of the Navy, but that they need to be familiar with how things work. One thing we know for sure about being a Sailor is that, if they don't know something, they often don't know who to ask. Leaders must be willing to intervene and to inform the Sailor, thus preventing the failure frequently resulting from "no one told me and I didn't know to ask."

Intrusive leaders should be available so that they can be reached by the Sailor when needed.

Intrusive leaders maintain clear boundaries with their Sailors. They are neither the Sailor’s parent nor their best friend, but a professional whose job it is to foster independence while teaching the Sailor the ways of the Navy. Leaders must show genuine concern for the success of their Sailors. Personal characteristics should include a positive attitude, empathy, openness, and honesty.
“Sailors don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”


Greg said...

Do you know of any means currently available to measure intrusive leadership? Or to identify the absence of it? Or to select someone who is capable of it? Or to develop someone into an intrusive leader?

Greg H.

Captain - Special Duty Cryptology said...


Send me an e-mail and I will try to answer your questions.

All the best
Thanks for your comment.

Skippy-san said...

I hate that term intrusive leadership. It has lead to a whole host of abuses of our Sailors and is why the Navy has such boneheaded programs like liberty cards and curfews and all the other nonsense that has sprung up in the last decade.

Intrusive = abusive. The is a way to keep your finger on the pulse of your Sailors withoug demanding that they submit every detail of their private life to inspection. It requires a plugged and empowered Chief's mess for one thing, and communication up and down the chain of command.

The statement Intrusive leaders maintain clear boundaries with their Sailors. They are neither the Sailor’s parent nor their best friend, but a professional whose job it is to foster independence while teaching the Sailor the ways of the Navy. is redudant. That's good leadership not intrusive leadership.

Most of the current crop of Officers have not gotten past the "intrusive" part and its too the detriment of the Navy as a whole. This is just another legacy of Uncle Vern's five years of mis-mangement as CNO.

Captain - Special Duty Cryptology said...


Appreciate your comment. I guess the question really becomes "where is the line between intrusive and just plain good leadership". Perhaps knowing your Sailors well-enough to know when to intrude might be a better expression of my view of this leadership style. I prefer an engaged leader rather than one who is detached.

Thanks again for stopping by. I have enjoyed your blog for years.

All the best,

Dave said...

I am a firm believer in practicing Intrusive Leadership. This has nothing to do with being abusive; that would be Abusive Leadership. Intrusive Leadership is to lead by walking around the passageways and work centers conversing with your Sailors; getting to know them. You would be surprised at how much will come to the surface if you just scratch a little. Being a bit intrusive not only helps you get to know your sailors, but also helps form a connection, and foster trust and confidence. Intrusive Leaders finds what the individuals goals are, what motivates him/her and what kind of roadblocks you can help remove so that they can succeed. Many times we fail to lead, because we rather act like that mystical Officer that sits in an office hiding behind a desk. That’s not leading.

NC Officer said...

The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes the word "intrusive" as:
a : characterized by intrusion
b : intruding where one is not welcome or invited

Dictionary.com states it as:


1. tending or apt to intrude; coming without invitation or welcome: intrusive memories of a lost love.
2. characterized by or involving intrusion.
3. intruding; thrusting in.

This is where I think the intent of the communicated word is lost.

All too often in today's Navy 2012 that word "intrusive leadership" is synonymist with "we are going to hold you accountable if anyone of your sailors get into trouble" instead of the tried and true practiced traditions of Naval leadership that is showing a genuine interest in your people, ensuring everyone knows what the expectations are and treating them like adults and holding them accountable if they get into trouble.

Being in the medical navy I just keep asking for a dose of phenergan every time I hear that statement "intrusive leadership!"
Just be a good leader without some wrongly re-packaged leadership style.