Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Admiral James Stavridis on persuading Sailors to write

First, I think the desire to read, to think about what you’ve read, and to write it down is an instinct in almost everybody. The true key is making that leap from writing it down to then publishing it, that act of courage to put your ideas out there in an open forum and recognize that not everyone is going to agree with you. Those of us who value that should encourage those who choose to take that first leap. For example, one thing I will do as the Board Chair is to read the articles every month. If four or five really stand out, I will make a point of contacting those people. I’d like to see our senior leaders do that consistently, because by encouraging our young people to stand and deliver intellectually, we will all have a far better profession.
Second, it’s using new ways of moving that information. If someone is going to take the trouble to write and have the courage to publish it, we should work hard to give it the widest possible dissemination, which means going beyond simply putting it in the pages of Proceedings , as wonderful as that is. I’m very encouraged by what we do on the U.S. Naval Institute website and our new social-networking tools. The more we can spread those ideas, the better.
Third, more prosaically, we should encourage writing through finding ways to get sponsors for contests that award prize money, life memberships, and other high-end kinds of things. And we should have conferences where we bring in and recognize those who publish.

Admiral James Stavridis


Jim Murphy said...

Wonderful words and advice from a great writer and leader.

Active engagement by leaders to encourage and support writers and would-be writers is essential.

Sharing writers' ideas through social networking is important, and it works.

And expanding the essay contests is a great way to attract new writers and new ideas. The (sad-to-say-former) Enlisted Essay Contest is how I got my start in Proceedings.

Thanks for sharing, Captain.

Christopher Nelson said...

Thanks for sharing!

It immediately brought a few things to mind:

Having worked at the strategic and tactical level I have yet to see a published paper or essay from a mid/junior officer be applied at work. That's just me. Sure, others may have. But it would be a big win to hear someone like a Mattis or a Dempsey or a Greenert say, "LT/LCDR/CDR so and so wrote a paper about x, we are looking into it, there are some great ideas there." Oh, and the most important part, they said it publicly.

And as to writing: ultimately, you have to want it. You have to throw your ideas out there and fight for them. Maybe someone is listening, maybe not. Give it a shot.

LCDRLDO/6440 said...

USNI 2013 Leadership Essay Contest

Leadership in the Sea Services: The Junior Officers’ Perspective.


I would encourage every CO/XO/CMC to challenge their command members (not just JO's) to at least think about and/or answer these questions.

What does leadership look like to the led? What does it look like from below?

From beside?

What qualities and characteristics define leadership for those who are themselves young leaders who aspire to command?

Can leadership be defined … or only recognized?

Can leadership be taught … or only learned?

How can leadership be nurtured?

What does character have to do with leadership?

What is the role of mentors?

What were the great naval leaders saying about leaders and leadership when they themselves were junior officers?

What other lessons can be drawn from naval history?

Why do so many people believe their experience as a naval officer changed their lives – whether they continued to serve on active duty or not?