Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Disservice to leaders in our great Navy

It does a disservice to the very ideals of leadership, and what it means to be a Navy leader, to declare that by virtue of membership in an organization a person is a leader. More importantly, declaring that all "Sailors are leaders" ignores the need to train, educate, and develop Sailors both professionally and personally. By understanding leadership as existing on a continuum, it is possible to focus on Sailors at all levels as deserving the opportunity to grow and develop within their own spheres of authority and responsibility.

Paraphrased from Kevin M. Bond in JFQ.

BTW, all Sailors ARE NOT leaders. Statements to the contrary are pure fiction.

Even Admiral Mike Mullen has moderated his previous statements in this regard.

“Every Sailor has the
potential to be a leader,” Admiral Mike Mullen.


Anonymous said...

This (former) sailor concurs. I served with leaders whom I'd follow to perdition and others whom I'd not follow to the head (bathroom). When I became a leader (through training, education and development) I fell somewhere in between but more, I'd like to think, toward the "follow to perdition" side.

Anonymous said...


Good philosophy in my opinion. I never saw the first advertisement for the Navy when I was a young boy that said the Navy was looking for leaders. They wanted warm bodies that craved to see the world. If you were mentally and physically qualified you filled the billet, and were probably stunned to find out later that leadership was in demand. As you pointed out there are various qualities to leadership and no one is the perfect leader, but if one does not strive to achieve that status they are remiss.


seanheritage said...

It may be semantics and we may very well all be saying the same thing in different ways.  This conversation reminds me of Charles Barkley that despite him being a professional athlete idolized by young basketball fans he was not a role model.  Each day every Sailor is expected to lead and follow to varying degrees.  Some succeed, some fail, but the expectation is there.  I find that by using the "Power of Intention" and treating people as though they are already demonstrating the desired behavior, most enjoy the desired effect.  For that reason, I firmly believe that not only is every Sailor with whom I am fortunate enough to serve a leader, but together we comprise a team who leads.  Once we put on the uniform (regardless of collar device) we accept the burden, responsibility and privilege of our leadership/followership role.  Even those who choose to squander such an opportunity are leaders, just poor ones.    

Anonymous said...

Commanding Officer,
Navy Information Operations Command Pensacola

Sean Heritage,

We have a slight disagreement, unfortunately your last statement (Even those who choose to squander such an opportunity are leaders, just poor ones.) I would not consider to be correct. I would never consider a lack of leadership as even being poor leadership. Many enlisted individuals enter the Navy without the first thought or knowledge of leadership. And if they want to be successful in the Navy they must be good followers for some time, then they can begin to understand what leadership is all about. Some individuals may learn what it is to be a leader, but some will never make the grade.

Very Respectfully,