Sunday, November 30, 2008

Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell


Effective leadership is exercised across a full spectrum of responsibilities, and also over time. Across an entire organization involving a wide variety of people engaged in a multitude of tasks (both concurrently and in sequence), the leader must spark high performance and ensure the welfare of the group. Well, that's complicated. Even if the leader manages to get everybody happy with today's reality, somebody's very likely to get off the bus tomorrow. A leader simply cannot please everybody all the time.

"Making people mad was part of being a leader. As I had learned long ago . . . an individual's hurt feelings run a distant second to the good of the service."
Leadership can't be a popularity contest. Trying not to offend anyone, or trying to get everyone to like you, will set you on the road to mediocrity. Why? Because leaders who are afraid to make people angry are likely to waver and procrastinate when it comes time to make tough choices. Leaders who care more about being liked than about being effective are unlikely to confront the people who need confronting. They are unlikely to offer differential rewards based on performance. They won't challenge the status quo. And inevitably, by not challenging tradition, they hurt both their own credibility and their organization's performance.

Oren Harari, The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Learn to follow first

Stellar followers approach their roles with enthusiasm and commitment to establish and maintain competence. Competence is an elusive quality these days. Competence demands more than acquisition of several competencies or microskills.

Competence is the capacity to integrate knowledge, experience, and contextual factors in order to function smoothly and effectively in the real world.

Competent followers start by doing their homework. They become intentional students of the organization, literate in the organization's mission and objectives, and very aware of the CO's philosophy and leadership style.

Because they anticipate problems and questions, they acquire all the information their superior requires to make well-informed decisions. In fact, they routinely go above and beyond minimum expectations in this regard. They are proactive in seeking opportunities for enhancing job knowledge and practical competence.

From: Becoming A Leader The Annapolis Way

Friday, November 28, 2008

No more exacting method of determining an officer's worth

"The 20-year-old bluejacket is the backbone of the navy." And he advised the 1970 graduating class at the Naval Academy: "When you step aboard ship and stand in front of your first division of bluejackets, they will evaluate you accurately and without delay. In fact, there is no more exacting method of determining an officer's worth."

"Furthermore, you can't fool bluejackets. They are quick to recognize the phony. If you lose the respect of these men, you are finished. You can never make it back."

"Some officers get it backwards. They don't understand that we are responsible for our men, not the other way around. That's what forges trust and loyalty."

Admiral John S. McCain

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The qualities of practical intelligence

“…we must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everday affairs of life, the qualities of practical intelligence, of courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of devotion to a lofty ideal, which made great the men who founded this Republic in the days of Washington…”

Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Defense Against Buzzword-Nomograph-Acronym Mentality

Ethics is taught in many forms in service academies and postgraduate institutions. But Stockdale wants to create a model specifically designed to help the military "regain our bearings." Says he: "Today's ranks are filled with officers who have been weaned on slogans and fads of the sort preached in the better business schools—that rational managerial concepts will cure all evils. This course is my defense against the buzzword-nomograph-acronym mentality."

VADM James Bond Stockdale, PhD, Heroism

In his class, "Foundations of Moral Obligation" at the Naval War College. Taken from TIME MAGAZINE, February 1979

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Think about the future—frequently.

Constant change is a characteristic of the modern era, and constant change requires
people of vision who can look beyond the current paradigm in order to chart our future. Develop ideas that guide your career, the Naval Intelligence community, and the Navy. Seniors are looking for bold officers with good ideas. Although not all people possess equal capabilities to look to the future, all of us have the capability to try.

Look for opportunities to contribute your ideas. If opportunities don’t present themselves, look for ways to create the right opportunity.

VADM "Jack" Dorsett, Director of Naval Intelligence

Monday, November 24, 2008

Integrity is powerful

The moral forces are order, courage, confidence, and cohesion, forces that assure the troops' faith in the integrity of leadership, its dependability to keep consistent standards of right and wrong.

Integrity is a powerful word that derives from a specific concept It describes a person who is integrated, blended into a whole, as opposed to a person of many parts, many faces, many disconnects. The word relates to the ancients' distinction between living and living well.

Contrary to popular thought, a person of integrity is typically easygoing with a sense of humor. He knows himself, reflects a definite and thoughtful set of preferences and aspirations, and is thus reliable. Knowing he is whole, he is not preoccupied with riding the crest of continual anxiety but is free to ride the crest of delight with life!

VADM James Bond Stockdale

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Positive Attitude is Crucial

A positive attitude is crucial in achieving success. If I had to pick out one characteristic that I would want to have myself or hope that I was able to produce in the people I work with, it would be the concept of having a positive attitude about their work, about what they're trying to accomplish and what they are accomplishing.

I'd like to deal with the negatives as tasks to take on that will lead to further success. I think its absolutely critical that one be able to develop within one's peer groups, and certainly one's subordinates, a positive attitude, and that goes to whether you're working with just two people or four or ten or hundreds of thousands. It is critical that you have a positive attitude about what you're doing, what you're trying to accomplish and what the groups are trying to accomplish.

Hopefully you're able to lead people in a positive fashion that will build into a success-oriented organization, and they do go together, there isn't any question about it. If you have a negative attitude in a unit you will not have success, and the leader has to turn that situation around. The leader has a very difficult challenge if he has a lot of people coming in and asking for transfers. He better understand why and be able to deal with that, and I guess one might say there's another element there. If you're the next senior up, you had better be wise enough to know what the cause; of that negativism is and remove it, even if it's the division officer or the division chief who is the problem.

Admiral Thomas Hayward

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Once I Was A Navyman

I like the Navy. I like standing on deck during a long voyage with sea spray in my face and ocean winds whipping in from everywhere - The feel of the giant steel ship beneath me, it's engines driving against the sea is almost beyond understanding - It's immense power makes the Navyman feel so insignificant but yet proud to be a small part of this ship, a small part of her mission.

I like the Navy. I like the sound of taps over the ships announcing system, the ringing of the ships bell, the foghorns and strong laughter of Navy men at work. I like the ships of the Navy - nervous darting destroyers, sleek proud cruisers, majestic battle ships, steady solid carriers and silent hidden submarines - I like the workhorse tugboats with their proud Indian names: Iroquois, Apache, Kiawah and Sioux - each stealthy powerful tug safely guiding the warships to safe deep waters from all harbors.

I like the historic names of other proud Navy Ships: Bennington, Midway, Hornet, Princeton, Suribachi and Saratoga. The Ozark, Hunley, Constitution, Missouri, Quincy and Manchester, as well as The Sullivan's, New Jersey, Tecumseh and Nautilus - all majestic ships of the line. Each commanding the respect of all Navymen that have known her or were privileged to be a member of her crew.

I like the bounce of Navy music and the tempo of a Navy Band, "Liberty Whites" and the spice scent of a foreign port - I like shipmates I've sailed with, worked with, served with or have known: The Gunners Mate from the Iowa cornfields, a Sonarman from the Colorado mountain country, a pal from Cairo, Alabama; an Italian from near Boston, some boogie boarders of California, and of course a drawling friendly Oklahoma lad that hailed from Muskogee; and a very congenial Engineman from the Tennessee hills.

From all parts of the land they came - farms of the Midwest, small towns of New England - the red clay area and small towns of the South - the mountain and high prairie towns of the West - the beachfront towns of the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Gulf - All are American; all are comrades in arms - All are men of the sea and all are men of honor.

I like the adventure in my heart when the ship puts out to sea, and I like the electric thrill of sailing home again, with the waving hands of welcome from family and friends waiting on shore - The extended time at sea drags; the going is rough on occasion. But there's the companionship of robust Navy laughter, the devil-may-care philosophy of the sea. This helps the Navyman - The remembrances of past shipmates fill the mind and restore the memory with images of other ships, other ports, and other voyages long past - Some memories are good, some are not so good but all are etched in the mind of the Navyman, and most will be there forever.

After a day of work, there is the serenity of the sea at dusk. - As white caps dance on the ocean waves, the sunset creates flaming clouds that float in folds over the horizon - as if painted there by a master. The darkness follows soon and is mysterious. The ship's wake in darkness has a hypnotic effect, with foamy white froth and luminescence that forms never ending patterns in the turbulent waters. I like the lights of the ship in darkness - the masthead lights, the red and green sidelights and stern lights. They cut through the night and appear as a mirror of stars in darkness - There are rough stormy nights, and calm, quiet, still nights where the quiet of the mid-watch allows the ghosts of all the Sailors of the world to stand with you - They are abundant and unreachable, but ever apparent - And there is always the aroma of fresh coffee from the galley.

I like the legends of the Navy and the Navymen that created those legends - I like the proud names of Navy Heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, McCain, Rickover and John Paul Jones - A man can find much in the Navy - comrades in arms, pride in his country - A man can find himself and can revel in this experience.

In years to come, when the Sailor is home from the sea, he will still recall with fondness the ocean spray on his face when the sea is angry - There will come a faint aroma of fresh paint in his nostrils, the echo of hearty laughter of the seafaring men who once were close companions - Now landlocked, he will grow wistful of his Navy days, when the seas were the largest part of him and a new port of call was always just over the horizon.

Recalling those days and times, he will stand taller and say -"ONCE I WAS A NAVYMAN !"

E.A. Hughes, FTCM(SS),
- Copyright, 1958, 1978

Friday, November 21, 2008


Writing is a skill that is improved through practice, so officers should seek every opportunity to write and therefore to improve their technical ability to write. Imagination and the desire for self-improvement play a large part in the effectiveness of an individual's writing.

Some people know the mechanics of how to write, but they are not very good writers because they don't have the imagination to add the appropriate descriptive phrase, adverb, adjective, whatever it is that makes this thing live A little, makes it more readable, more appealing. I don't think you necessarily can teach just anyone to be a professional writer, but you can help them improve, I would encourage young officers not to draw away from the normal approach to writing tasks but to accept them as a challenge to create, just as any other artist does.

Rarely is rewriting unnecessary. Write it, read it, and, as a consequence of reading it, write it again and work it and rework it and get suggestions and get it critiqued.


Thursday, November 20, 2008


First you find yourself overlooking small infractions that you would have corrected on the spot in the past.

Soon you are a participant in these infractions. "After all," you say, "Everybody's doing it."

All too soon you find yourself trapped. You no longer can stand on a favorite principle because you have strayed from it.

Finding no way out, you begin to rationalize, and then you are hooked.

The important fact is, the men who travel the path outlined above have misused the very basic quality and characteristic expected of a professional military man, or any other professional man for that matter.

They have compromised their integrity.

Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, NAVAL LEADERSHIP - Voices of Experience

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Issue of Accountability

I hope actually in the time you’re here (Air Command and Staff College) you really do chew on this and have some healthy debates and discussions about it – is the whole issue of accountability. It’s how I grew up, it’s why I stayed in, it’s why I love command. And there isn’t anybody at any level of seniority that wouldn’t tell you, you know, that their worst day in command was better than any other day they had anywhere else, and that their worst day in command, some days, you know, there was a hand that reached in to save their careers and they got lucky.

That said, we are accountable for our commands at every level, and that message is very important. That’s a very important message right back to – and I’ll speak specifically to the chiefs’ position, and having been a chief of a service, I do understand that. And when you lose that accountability, when accountable officers don’t step forward and say, it’s my command, okay, and my command – in Navy terminology – is aground, and when you are aground, you know, you walk off the brow. That’s the rule. We know that. So the accountability aspect of all that is also really important.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ol' Time Khaki Deckplate Leadership

Creativity is vital to the Deckplate Leader because without it change will never begin at the level that it should, the deckplates. The only constant in life is change, and change requires leaders to “Be Creative” in order to be successful. Deckplate Leaders take ownership of this fact and are always thinking about process improvement to make the mission just as successful, but more efficiently.

Also, leading when everything is okay is easy. The true test of one’s leadership ability is to lead in the face of adversity, crisis and transformation; “leading in the suck”. This all usually takes place when new situations arise, and requires a certain degree of creativity to be successful.

The idea is not to re-invent the wheel. The wheel still works and we all like it. But if we can improve on the tread of the wheel’s tire, well, then now we have something special.


  • Be persistent
  • Keep it simple
  • Do the right thing
  • And eat the elephant one bight at a time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chiefs Should Take Responsibility

“The Chief Petty Officer can, and should, take the responsibility of keeping every Sailor under his leadership informed. If one of his Sailors has a problem, he has a problem. There should be no excuses. There is a solution to every problem, and it should be pursued until his Sailor is satisfied that every means has been exhausted in the effort to find a solution. I feel very strongly that we need to improve our leadership abilities to keep pace with the high level of technical skill. The rapidity of advancement has caused a need for establishment of more leadership classes at the command level. My feelings are that we must have a chain of command from top to bottom, but even more important, we must have a channel of communication and understanding.”

Former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, MCPON Del Black

A new comment on your post "Chiefs Should Take Responsibility":

Maybe it would be appropriate to point out that MCPON Delbert Black was the first MCPON. He was stationed at Dam Neck, VA in 1967 when he was selected for that job, and I was stationed there as well at Guided Missile School.
Very Respectfully,
Navyman834 (MCPO Hughes, USN, retired)


Saturday, November 15, 2008

We Must Sail

To reach a port, we must sail - sail, not tie at anchor- sail, not drift.

Franklin Roosevelt

Friday, November 14, 2008

Communication is Number ONE !

As a leader, there is one single thing you can do that will make, or break, command morale. According to a leading survey, the key is communication.

And while that's true in "normal" times, it's become even more important now that we're in a Presidential transition.

Regular communication with Sailors is always integral to a command's success, especially during periods of uncertainty, and in federal executives' opinions, lack of communication with Sailors is the number one cause of low morale.

As the Navy is undergoing change, the best thing to do is communicate with your Sailors even if you yourself aren't sure exactly what's about to happen. It's foremost just to bring Sailors together. Talk to them one on one. You've got to manage the grapevine. You need to address these things so that Sailors are not preoccupied with worrying about rumors that may not be true.

More Valuable Than Money
It would seem that most leaders already know this answer. In the survey, leaders were asked, "In your opinion, what is the best remedy for low morale?" Their responses:

    Communication 48%
    Recognition programs 19%
    Monetary awards for exceptional performance 13%
    Unexpected rewards (e.g., gift certificates or sporting event tickets) 11%
    Team-building events or meetings 5%
    Additional days off 3%

Bottom line: Tell your Sailors what happened, what is happening and what will be happening.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We are the United States Navy

We are the United States Navy, our Nation's sea power – ready guardians of peace, victorious in war. ((Brevity approved by CDR SALAMANDER))

We are the United States Navy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Intellectual Renaissance in the Naval Service

The Naval Service and the nation are well served when we follow their example of teamwork guided by open and frank discussion. The changing operational environment requires that we eliminate redundancies and forge greater interdependence between us. The overarching goal is greater and more efficient alignment beginning at the service headquarters level. We charge all hands to conduct experimentation, wargaming, seminars, and debate in order to more fully understand and implement the guidance presented herein. We expect that this intellectual renaissance within the Naval Service will enable us to meet the security challenges of the 21st Century and reinforce the preeminence of U.S. Naval forces to help defend the homeland and win the nation’s wars.


The Naval Operational Concept 2008 has been delayed due to the inclusion of force structure details, which will outline how the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard will put the cooperative maritime strategy released last fall into action, the one-star admiral who oversees the effort said.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taking criticism like a Naval officer

Accepting criticism is a skill every well-adjusted Sailor must possess. We give and take criticism among our co-workers, our friends, and our family. Criticism is an important part of our personal self improvement, for it is other people who can point out mistakes and shortcomings that we can’t see because we lack objectivity. Unfortunately, Sailors today (me included) don’t know how to offer and accept criticism like a man. Instead we handle criticism like little boys. When giving criticism, we opt only to give snide, cutting jabs that do nothing to improve the situation. When receiving criticism, we sulk, make excuses, and argue with the person criticizing them. Ask any leader who has the nerve of giving a subordinate a poor Fitness Report. Today’s subordinates will cry and whine their way to a better one. Or worst of all, have a senior intervene. We simply don’t know how to respectfully accept criticism.

Because we all face situations every day that require us to give or take criticism, we provide the following guidelines on how to make the process more constructive.

How to Give Effective Criticism

  • Go in cool, calm, and collected.
  • Be specific.
  • Criticize the action, not the person.
  • Be a diplomat.
  • Make specific suggestions for improvement.
  • Personalize your approach.
  • Point out positives.
  • Follow up.

How to Take Criticism

  • Consider the source.
  • Shut your trap and listen.
  • Don’t take it personally.
  • Stay calm
  • Ask clarifying questions.
  • Take ownership of your mistake.
  • Change your perspective on criticism.
  • Thank your critic (even when they handed your butt to you).
  • Take action and follow up. Get better. Improve. That's what it's all about.
Stolen from: How to take criticism like a man

Monday, November 10, 2008

Innovative Problem Solving

Charles Momsen had a problematic relationship with the U.S. Navy bureaucracy. As is often the case with bold innovations, Momsen encountered opposition from officials reluctant to develop new approaches to solving complex problems. Indeed, Momsen's innovative ideas and proposals frequently generated heated resistance from U.S. Navy organizations. As he reflected in retirement: "I guess during my career, I steered a course a bit too much my own... When an officer with initiative and imagination leaves the middle of the road, he's bound to have trouble...Often when I presented a new proposal, I was made to feel like a felon committing a crime and ended up not only having to defend the idea, but myself for daring to bring it up."

Vice Admiral Charles B. Momsen

From the book: Leadership Embodied, U.S. Naval Institute Press

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Those who go down to the sea in ships

The Navy and its Sailors go to sea. For Sailors, tours at sea and tours ashore are two different things entirely. They are "what it's all about"; the latter are the interludes between cruises. Sailors pride themselves, indeed brag about, how many months or years of their career they have spent at sea. The oceans are vast, and ships move slowly, so tours at sea are long, usually measured in months rather than weeks. The Navy culture: a deployment culture; deployments form the rhythm of Navy life for the Sailor and for their families. If "home is where the heart is," then many, perhaps most, Sailors have two homes—the one with family and friends ashore and the other with shipmates on deployment.

"The Navy's worldwide presence and availability "on the seven seas" are its hallmarks and make it usually the "first on the scene" when trouble er affecting U.S. interests in any corner of the globe. To this day, the Navy says, and on some level believes, that when a crisis springs up, the first question the president of the United States asks is, "Where are the carriers?"


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Command Excellence - The Executive Officer

CO's right hand
Superior commands view the XO as the CO's right hand. It is the XO who is responsible for the day-to-day running of the command. XOs traditionally have responsibility for administration and personnel. And in superior units, XOs drive the administrative system. They emphasize efficiency, knowing that if paperwork is not done properly and on time, performance and morale will suffer. They develop routines and systems to make sure this does not happen. But these are not "paperwork" XOs.

Out and about
Like the COs of superior commands, they frequently walk about. Describing his daily routine, one XO explains: "I try to get out every day and look at what is going on in the control room. I might check and see what the missile program watch is for today, stop and look at a set of logs, or watch a guy do his hourly cleaning. I find it very useful. It lets the crew know that the command is interested. They like to know that we are not just growing mushrooms on them."

Active in planning
These XOs are especially active in planning. They meet frequently to plan; they delegate people to gather information; they find out what's coming down the road; and they hold people accountable for implementing plans.

Unit manning
XOs in superior commands are active in all aspects of unit staffing, including performance appraisal, manpower utilization, and retention. They encourage and participate in recruiting the best people. For example, one XO was able to work a deal with another squadron to get them to release an outstanding maintenance chief early. The chief would then be available when the XO's command needed him. In another case, an XO swapped one of his chiefs for one in another squadron that his command wanted.

Enforce Standards
Because they oversee the daily operations of the command, these XOs are instrumental in monitoring and enforcing standards. They often have regular and exacting inspections, and if they find that something is not shipshape, they take corrective action immediately.

Charting the Course to Command Excellence

Friday, November 7, 2008

VADM Stockdale Award Winners Reinforce Proven Command Excellence Principles

The superior Commanding Officer:

(Commanding Officers such as Commanders Paul E. Lyons and Robert E. Smith, the 2008 VADM James Bond Stockdale Inspirational Leadership Award winners)
  • Targets Key Issues
  • Gets Crew to Support Command Philosophy
  • Develops the Executive Officer
  • Staffs to Optimize Performance
  • Gets Out and About
  • Builds Esprit de Corps
  • Keeps His Cool
  • Develops Strong Wardroom
  • Values the Chief Petty Officers Quarters
  • Ensures Training if Effective
  • Builds Positive External Relationships
  • Influences Successfully
The Complete Text below:

Navigating a New Course to Command Excellence

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Inspriational Leadership Award Winners for 2008

The 2008 winners of the VADM James Bond Stockdale Leadership Awards, Commanders Robert E. Smith and Paul J. Lyons, gave credit to their families and their subordinates. Admiral Gary Roughead presented the awards in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes on Tuesday, 4 November 2008.

Cmdr. Robert Smith is the Atlantic Fleet winner and Commander Paul Lyons won for the Pacific Fleet.

Smith commanded SEAL Team 2 and is the first SEAL to receive the Stockdale Award.

Smith led his SEALs in CENTCOM, South America and Africa. Lyons was the Commanding Officer of the forward-deployed destroyer USS STETHEM in Japan. Both men are known as "GO TO" men.

To read about the history of the VADM James Bond Stockdale Award and prior winners click on

A League of Extraordinary Officers and Gentlemen - Article rejected by PROCEEDINGS magazine.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

MCPON is done..and I am not happy about it !

"Early in his tour, it was very clear that his intent was to reset the chief's mess and return its members to the role of deckplate leadership. Watching that happen aboard our ships and shore stations has made our Navy stronger and inspired our Sailors. MCPON Campa's energy and passionate commitment to our Sailors and their families is infectious, and it has swept across our entire navy. He is a Sailor's MCPON, a MCPON who changed the Navy based on his love of leading Sailors."
Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations

The departure will make Campa, at two years and five months in office, the shortest-serving MCPON in the 41-year history of the job. What's up with that ??

Anchor Up Chiefs - RESET The Mess - PROCEEDINGS Article by Captain Mike Lambert

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rumsfeld changed the military for the better

You took over from Donald Rumsfeld

"One of the things that annoys me is that everyone is always trying to contrast everything I do with everything Secretary Rumsfeld did. But the transformation that he started has totally changed the American military, and, I believe, for the better."

Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense, NEWSWEEK Magazine,

25 October 2008

Personal note: I spent my last two years on active duty (2004-2006) as a Navy Captain working alongside a superb Presidential Management Intern (Ms. Sarah Nagelmann - Now SOUTHCOM's Director of Strategic Communications) for Secretary Rumsfeld on the Detainee Task Force (formed on 14 May 2004 by the DEPSECDEF following the revelations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq). I found the Secretary to be infinitely forgiving, patient and magnanimous. In two years I can honestly say, that despite the horrific nature of the issues he was dealing with, he was never 'short' or 'ill tempered' as some have characterized him. He admonition to us was always - "We will go where the truth leads us." One investigation led to another, which led to another - all said and told, he ordered 14 major investigations that we were responsible for tracking. He never tried to cover up a single thing. His view was that it was probably worse than any of us could imagine. And, of course, that is how it turned out to be. In my mind, Secretary Rumsfeld is an American patriot with very few peers.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Dear Admiral...

In the 1940's, the Navy used a form letter to reduce the Flag Officer Ranks. It let "My dear Admiral" down with a gentler bump. Sent in November 1945 to all of the 369 flag officers still on active duty, the Navy's letter simply asked that if (for guidance in future planning) , the admiral wanted to retire— please reply.

Of those who had replied by December 10, 1945, only 16 said they wanted to get out. Among them were Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey; 62-year-old Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll, commander of the Atlantic Fleet throughout most of the war; hardboiled Admiral Emory S. Land, for seven years head of the Maritime Commission. The Navy sent nearly 150 Admirals home who did not request retirement.

Nevertheless, the Navy's stars were rapidly thinned out. Scheduled to go by the end of 1945 were 51 admirals who were recalled to duty after they had already been retired. The Navy hopes by June 1946 to reduce its flag roster from the peak of 400 to 228.

From TIME MAGAZINE, 17 December 1945

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Don't get in the way - civilian control of the military

The dirty work fell to Deputy Defense Secretary Roswell Gilpatric. On Sunday afternoon he drove to the official quarters, atop Observatory Hill in northwest Washington, of the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations. There he informed Admiral George W. Anderson Jr. that he would not be reappointed when his present two-year term is up in August.

Anderson was stunned. So was most of the Navy. "A military man has really got to bow to this Kennedy crowd,'' said an admiral who is close to Anderson.

''Guys who get in their way get knocked off." And Anderson had been getting in the way of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara for quite a while.

The shift reminded the Pentagon once again that McNamara means to be in absolute charge. Once a decision is made, McNamara said recently, "by God, I expect everyone to fall in line. You can't run a military organization with divided authority."


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Making a difference for Sailors as their leader

The highest compliment a Sailor can receive is one given by his or her Commanding Officer or their Chief Petty Officer. Take the time to notice your Sailor's work and don't hesitate to tell them when they've done a good job. Make a habit of being sincere with your compliments. They know whether you are being genuine or not.
When your Sailors are having trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (deployment), remind them of the purpose of their work and help them envision what their work will accomplish. With that information, your Sailors will work harder and longer to see the task through to completion.
Every leader would be wise to heed the Cherokee saying: "Listen to the whispers and you won't have to hear the screams." Don't judge what your Sailors want to tell you before they've told you. Take time to understand your Sailors' points of view and listen to their suggestions. It's the best way to ensure that your Sailors have been listening to you and it opens the door to their innovative ideas for improvement.
Part of your job as a leader is to help your Sailors figure out what they're most passionate about, then help them pursue it. Sometimes that may involve a job change within your command or even allowing a Sailor to pursue another opportunity somewhere else. But when you understand that effectiveness comes as a result of surrounding yourself with Sailors who love the mission, it's not difficult to let a Sailor go who doesn't enjoy their work. Spend your best time developing and giving direction to those Sailors who are passionate about the work your command is accomplishing.