Monday, September 29, 2014

Virtues of a leader

The humble leader asks:
  • Does my experience really qualify me to work this issue? Am I quick to admit when I’’m in domains beyond my expertise? 
  • To what extent do my prejudices, attitudes or experiences bias my judgment? 
  • Am I open to consider novel approaches to this problem, and willing to learn and study where warranted? 
The empathetic leader asks:
  • To what extent have I analyzed the beliefs I hold which may impede my ability to think critically? 
  • Do I demonstrate a willingness to yield my positions when sufficient evidence is presented against them? 
  • To what extent am I willing to stand my ground against the majority (despite ridicule)? 
The intellectually courageous leader asks:
  • Do I listen and seek to understand others’ reasoning? 
  • Do I accurately represent viewpoints with which I disagree? Do I accurately represent their views? 
  • Do I appreciate insights in the technical views of others and prejudices in my own? 
The leader with intellectual integrity asks:
  • To what extent do I expect of myself what I expect of others? 
  • Do what extent are there contradictions or inconsistencies in the way I deal with technical issues? 
  • To what extent do I strive to recognize and eliminate self-deception or self-interest when reasoning through challenging issues? 
The persevering leader asks:
  • Am I willing to work my way through complexities in an issue or do I tend to give up when challenged? 
  • Can I think of a difficult similar problem in which I have demonstrated patience and tenacity? 
Leaders with confidence in reason ask:
  • Am I willing to change my position when the evidence leads to a more reasonable position? 
  • Do I adhere to technical principles and evidence when persuading others of my position or do I distort matters to support my position? 
  • Do I encourage others to come to their own technical conclusions or do I try to coerce agreement? 
Leaders with intellectual autonomy ask:
  • Do I think through technical issues on my own or do I merely accept others’ conclusions or judgments? 
  • Am I willing to stand alone against irrational criticism? 
The fair-minded leader asks:
  • Am I giving dissenting opinions adequate consideration? 
  • Has self-interest or bias clouded my judgment?  

R. J. Niewoehner
United States Naval Academy
Applied Disciplines: A Critical Thinking Model


HMS Defiant said...

This is an interesting and thought provoking series of questions. I would have said that a good leader never questions himself but I think I might be to far ahead of the game of teaching leadership through seminar. As I think about it more, I very much think that I went through many of these questions in my mind back when I was in the boy scouts or skipper of a boat crew in national sailing competitions long before I ever thought about becoming an officer.

I would have to say that this may well touch on the very basics of leadership for those who never did it before. There should be a follow-up lecture on dealing with leaders who are torn apart by self-doubt and conflicted by their feelings. You know, how does one cope with a leader who cannot make a decision, issue a valid order, accept risk, etc.

LCDRLDO/6440 said...

HMS Defiant: "how does one cope with a leader who cannot make a decision, issue a valid order, accept risk, etc."

This is fight not worth fighting. These type's are beyond repair.

My solution is wait them out or find a new job.

HMS Defiant said...

I think that the Navy does teach its people how to cope with awful leaders. It's why so many are being relieved of command and as XO and CMC billets. A leader has a duty to look after those who follow so you cannot simply wait it out and let terrible things happen while nobody does anything.

OTOH, COWPENS lost her CO and CHENG when the navy gapped the XO billet and the CO decided to run the ship by remote through the CHENG. I don't have the facts for that and never will, but speaking as a former CHENG who shepherded some really weak COs through the MCM rotations of ERNEST WILL and PRAYING MANTIS, I don't see what she could have done differently.

NAVBUREAUCRAT addressed a similar circumstance at his blog just a bit ago. My way was simply to work around them and since they were only there for between 1 to 3 months, there was never any serious damage done until the very end long after I left the community.

Anonymous said...

A good leader asks all these things but is not even conscious that he is doing so because he is focused on making a decision, issuing a valid order, accepting risk etc...

Anonymous said...

That was the way I thought but I never once considered undermining the CO. The one time we lost faith in Navy, our CO and our Commodore simply said, "we have done all we can; have your sailor write his Congressman."