Sunday, September 16, 2012

More from ...The Old Salt

Our CNO’s accountability letter, the charge of command, is a very good first step in reminding our commanding officers and all in command that we are necessarily held to a far higher standard than what society and our popular culture deem acceptable – and the expectation to meet this higher standard is explicit in Navy Regulations.

We’re not suggesting here – it is a must do. And those who won’t, or can’t, meet this standard will be held accountable for their failure.

However, we need more than simply episodic engagement with our leaders. We need a continuum that starts early and teaches our JOs and our petty officers about the essentials of leadership – about the importance of professional competence, intelligent good sense, and respect for the dignity of those they are privileged to lead throughout their careers.

We can’t have JOs learn about leadership at USNA/ROTC/OCS and the next time they really hear about it in an organized manner is at the PCO course. At the end of the day, it is all about re-instilling and reinforcing trust in the chain-of-command. And you build trust through principled leadership. And we need to help our leaders learn what principled leadership really means as they advance up the chain-of-command.

This trust is established through internalizing the standard, living the same standard, and communicating the standard through direct, human contact with meaningful engagement at every level of the chain of command at every opportunity. Quite simply, this trust is the glue that holds it all together and that trust must be built steadily and consistently, every day at every level of the chain-of-command.

The most important demand on any of our officers and senior enlisted is that they understand exactly what it means to provide leadership to the Sailors we place in their charge. We must provide that understanding in a continuum of professional development training at every significant step in their career.

This fundamental responsibility, leading sailors, transcends all others – it is the single most important thing we do, bar none and so we must give the same level of attention and concern to developing our officer and enlisted leaders as we do to anything else we do.

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