Monday, December 31, 2012

Selection for command - Final post for 2012

Congratulations on being successfully screened and selected by senior members of your community for command –– it has the potential to be the best assignment you will ever have in the Navy during your long career.  To help you get off on the right foot, some of your predecessors would offer some suggestions to help with your preparation.

To start with, you'll need a personal command philosophy and initial focus. Three reasons: (1) you have to have a well-formulated plan if you're going to take your command to new levels of performance excellence, (2) for much of what you actually accomplish in your command tour, you must first establish a focus in your initial 1-2 months, and (3) your first few weeks in command will haunt you over your entire tour if you aren’t prepared to hit the deck running.

Those Sailors entrusted to your charge want and need to be led from day one of your command tour.

Get to know, network, and collaborate with your fellow commanding officers––irrespective of your career field or warfare specialty. If you are exceptionally successful, you will all become senior officers together before you know it. You will need one another. If you regard each other as competitors, you will hurt yourselves, your chain of command, and potentially - the Navy. Don’t get lost in the “glory of being the boss.” You’ll find the command experience produces many challenges along with equal measures of reward and disappointment.

Now is a good time to send a short thank you to family members and any mentors that helped you during your career. An e-mail won't suffice for this important task.  As you've certainly already been taught –– the personal touch of a hand-written note show good breeding and professionalism.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Navy commands that stand out - some observations

Stand-out commands are those that focus on meaningful contact with their Sailors at every opportunity. These contacts, be they at routine events such as morning quarters or engagements by officers and Chief Petty Officers out and about on the deck-plates, where candid, meaningful and two-way conversation with Sailors can take place, are where trust is built. 

Too often we see command communications devolve to impersonal, and very imperfect, forms of contact, devoid of the context that can only come from face-to-face communications. Always be on the look-out for the opportunity to look your Sailors in the eye and engage them on the issues important to you and to them. Always be ready for the opportunity to build and sustain trust with those you lead. 

Another common denominator found at successful commands is a commanding officer and command team that holds themselves, and their Sailors, accountable to established Navy standards as they fulfill their responsibilities. Human contact builds trust, accountability sustains trust. When trust and accountability are institutionalized in the daily routine of a command, the result is usually long-term success. When accountability is not strictly enforced, the command and control structure, which is held together by trust, falls apart and the command eventually fails.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Efforts at self-synchronization - trust is essential

“Self-synchronization is the ability of a well-informed force to organize and synchronize complex activities from the bottom up. Self-synchronization is achieving the goals of the organization without or with less leaders than in a hierarchical organization. 'A priori knowledge' enables individuals to self-synchronize because they have a shared understanding of the situation."

The creation of self-synchronization through unity of effort, commander's intent, rules of engagement, and battlespace knowledge is discussed as a starting point to create self-synchronization. The next steps in achieving self-synchronization are to empower individuals by releasing them from the multitude of requirements currently in place and the expectation and acceptance of the military as an adaptive learning organization.

Trust appears to be an important factor for self-synchronization to be successful. Trust in information, people, and equipment is needed for self-synchronization to work effectively. Trust is needed for commanders to give up some personal control and rely more on the staff.

Trust is important for self-synchronization because teams function dispersed and therefore relatively autonomous. Members of military teams have to know each other well and need trust each other. The team also needs to trust other units and other personnel that are located elsewhere. According to the interviewees, trust is closely related to the situational awareness. Knowledge about the capabilities and expertise of other units is essential for self-synchronizing the efforts of the team.

The Information Dominance Corps Self-Synchronization efforts grew from an understanding among the IDC officer corps that they would have to take the initiative to share information across the Corps.  They are doing this every day.  Every member of the IDC has the opportunity to participate in this process and elevate the level of self-synchronization across the Corps.  You can check it out HERE.

More on Self-Synchronization: What is it, how is it created and is it needed?  written by Lieutenant Commander Layne M.K. Araki, USN, Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

10000 hour rule - Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell's latest book OUTLIERS talks about what separates the stars from everyone else. It isn't raw talent. It is sheer persistence--those who practiced harder did better, and those who practiced insanely hard became wildly successful.  Can the same be applied to Naval leadership?
Gladwell dubs this phenomenon the "10,000-hour rule." I think this can be applied equally to leadership. Becoming truly great at anything -- (leadership included) -- requires ten years of experience and 1,000 hours of practice per year. "Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness," he argues.

Becoming a leader requires "deliberate practice."

What are the elements of 'deliberate practice'? It's designed explicitly to improve performance -- the little adjustments that make a big difference. It's repetitive, which means that when it's time to perform for real, you don't feel the pressure. It's informed by continuous feedback; practicing leadership only works if you can see how you're improving.

Bits and pieces paraphrased (and others cut and pasted) from HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Admiral Ernest J. King advocated for more communication and sound leadership

When Sailors are aware and understand where their command is going, and WHY; when they understand their role, and WHY their contribution is vitally important; when they have the assets, resources, training and direction they need; when they are truly empowered, then they will do the right things for the right reasons at the right times. And, you can follow your people to achieve your vision.

The challenge for leadership is to see where the command needs to go, and WHY. Leadership needs to communicate that vision to the Sailors with sound and rational reasoning, and communicate it so that the Sailors will ardently want to move the command, transform it if need be, from where it is today to what it needs to be to serve the Navy and the Nation best. Then, we won’t need to tell Sailors what to do. They’ll know. They’ll believe it. And, they’ll do it without being pushed because they believe and know it’s the right thing to do.

Can you do that much for our Sailors?  If not, step aside Shipmate.  Other leaders are ready to fulfill that responsibility with gusto.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Free for everyone

Initiative and responsibility. They are yours for the taking.  No limits.  You are free to take as much of either or both of these as you like.  Go ahead.  Try it.  Some of you will really like it.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mashing Mark Twain's words

"The man who can, but does not, lead has no advantage over the man who cannot lead."

- Mark Twain never said that

Friday, December 21, 2012

Crisis in Leadership - modified slightly from Bill Deresiewicz's USMA presentation

We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going.  (The XO can keep the routine going; Skipper - we need you to think and act in ways that move the command, mission and Sailors forward!)  

We are training leaders:
-Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. 
-Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them.
- Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place. (Check with Simon Sinek and CDR Sean Heritage on "The WHY of what we are doing.")

What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of expertise. What we don’t have enough of are real leaders - those with ZERO interest in just keeping the routine going.

What we really need, in other words, are more thinkers.  

We need more:
- People who can think for themselves. 
- People who can formulate a new direction: for the country, for a corporation or a college, for the Navy—a new way of doing things, a new way of looking at things. 
- People, in other words, with vision.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

U.S. CYBER COMMAND is blocking my blog - I'm no threat/high-risk

        You have attempted to access a blocked website. Access to this website has been blocked for operational reasons by the DOD Enterprise-Level Protection System.

        Category: USCC_Deny_2011


        Contact your local Network Control Center for information on how to gain access to MISSION ESSENTIAL or otherwise authorized websites, or to report a mis-categorized website.


        This is a DoD enterprise-level protection system intended to reduce risk to DoD users and protect DoD systems from intrusion. It will block access to high-risk websites and filter high-risk web content.

CNO Diversity Vision - A home run

CNO’s Sailing Directions describe a vision of the contribution and characteristics of the Navy over the next 10-15 years. Today and in the next decade, ready Sailors and Civilians will remain the centerpiece of Navy’s warfighting capability. 

To maintain our warfighting edge, it is essential that our people be diverse in experience, background and ideas; personally and professionally ready; and proficient in the operation of their weapons and systems. 

Diversity is not founded on statistics, percentages, or quotas.  
Diversity is about achieving peak performance. 

Our force will draw upon the widest possible set of talents and backgrounds to maximize our warfighting capability, adapt to address new threats and challenges, and take advantage of new opportunities. 

The unique personal characteristics and skills of each Sailor and Civilian will continue to add value to our Navy.  Our efforts to attain and sustain a force of diverse talent and experience will be an intrinsic part of recruiting, developing, retaining and employing our people. We will continue to be united by our shared commitment to the Nation and each other as part of one Navy team. Every Sailor and Civilian will adhere to a professional culture of fairness and respect, and value the contributions each one makes to the Navy’s warfighting capability, forward operations and readiness

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Some advice on how to write

Memorandum from David Ogilvy

People who think well, write well.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing*. Read it three times.

2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.

3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.

5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.

6. Check your quotations.

7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning—and then edit it.

8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.

9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.

10. If you want ACTION, don't write. Go and tell the guy what you want.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

You are a Navy man

You are a Navy man, part of the largest and strongest seagoing force in the world. When you were sworn in and put on your uniform for the first time, you became part of a great tradition. All the brave men who have gone before you, and those who will follow you, make up an unbroken chain of courage and devotion to duty that should make you proud to wear your uniform. 

As a Navy man you are, in a special sense, a good citizen of these United States. Your uniform alone does not entitle you to special privileges, rather it obligates you to set high standards of conduct and performance of duty. At home, and on duty abroad in foreign countries, you will be under constant observation as a representative of the United States government. Be sure that no careless act of yours brings discredit to your uniform or to your country's flag. 

Service in the Navy can be whatever you make it. It takes some time to understand and become adapted to the ways of the Navy, for going to sea in ships and aircraft is a tough, serious business, particularly in these troubled times. If you must work hard and at times miss a leave period or a few liberties in your home port, remember that you chose a man's job when you joined the Navy


Monday, December 17, 2012


I received this nice Moleskin notebook with camo cover from one of the warriors I was mentoring (from the comfort of my home in Virginia) who was serving in Iraq.  I was deeply honored to receive it.  There's a nice guest blog post over HERE on Sean Heritage's blog about mentorship by an independent thinking JO in Hawaii.  It's worth a read.  Thanks for the post ENSIGN Zaki Rucker, NIOC Hawaii.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Remembering Captain Tally Malloy

Captain Tally (Charles Joseph Jr.) Malloy was born 08/03/1938 and passed away on 12/16/2004. He was Deputy, Commander Naval Security Group (GB) when I was the Director of Program and Budget (GD2) in the early 1990s.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ideas - Don't be afraid to share yours !

TED (owned by The Sapling Foundation) fosters the spread of great ideas. It aims to provide a platform for the world's smartest thinkers, greatest visionaries and most-inspiring teachers, so that millions of people can gain a better understanding of the biggest issues faced by the world, and a desire to help create a better future. Core to this goal is a belief that there is no greater force for changing the world than a powerful idea. Consider:
  • An idea can be created out of nothing except an inspired imagination.
  • An idea weighs nothing.
  • It can be transferred across the world at the speed of light for virtually zero cost.
  • And yet an idea, when received by a prepared mind, can have extraordinary impact.
  • It can reshape that mind's view of the world.
  • It can dramatically alter the behavior of the mind's owner.
  • It can cause the mind to pass on the idea to others. 

OPNAV N2/N6 is actively seeking your ideas.  SHARE THEM. Create a better future for our Navy. It's where you'll spend the rest of your career.

Friday, December 14, 2012

100% commitment, that's the essence of no-compromise leadership

No-compromise leadership is all about the thinking, behavior, and accountability that support all leadership results.  By design, no compromise cuts through the myriad excuses, emotional blockages and procrastination that silently infect leadership performance.  If "no compromise" becomes the mandate - the guided principle upon which all other leadership behavior emanates - the resulting outcomes will be nothing short of breakthrough.

No-compromise Leadership
Mara Dresner

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The high cost of compromise

When Navy leaders compromise, or look the other way when compromise of values, standards or principles occurs, it's the equivalent of the Captain drilling holes in the bottom of his ship.  Even the most basic forms of compromise can derail a command from fulfilling its mission.  Navy leaders are ultimately accountable for seemingly minor breaches, as almost all failures in a command can be traced back to those who lead.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Command - Yours 24 hours a day

“Command is for the individual who loves responsibility, that is one of the challenges of leadership. It’s yours twenty-four hours a day. Command is an assignment that you were totally responsible for all the activities within that unit. There is an intrinsic reward; it is satisfying a need to be able to project a certain amount of order and discipline to yield results. That’s your reward, that you did it, to want bigger and bigger responsibilities. To seek it, but it was not ambition, but the challenge of taking on the toughest responsibilities.”

Admiral Paul David Miller

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Command Failure = Commanding Officer Failure

"When things go wrong in your command, start searching for the reason in increasingly larger concentric circles around your own desk."

General Bruce C. Clark
Commander in Chief of the US Army in Europe, 1960–62

Monday, December 10, 2012


MCPON Michael Stevens is making "ZEROING IN ON EXCELLENCE" one of his primary focus areas.
PART 1  Zeroing in on Excellence  (LINK)

At our Leadership Mess Symposium in September, I mentioned that my refrain as MCPON will be Zeroing in on Excellence.  For me, that is about solidifying our lines of operation with three fundamental focus areas:
  • Developing Leaders
  • Good Order and Discipline
  • Controlling What We Own
PART 2 Controlling What We Own (LINK)

That said, there are many things that you and I do own and control, including Good Order & Discipline, technical training, maintenance/administrative production, and the execution of orders. We also have the ability to control much of our own lives by becoming and remaining physically, mentally, morally and spiritually sound.

PART 3 Developing Leaders (LINK)
We develop leaders through a combination of mentorship, practical experience and training. Do not downplay the acute impact you have in your routine daily interaction with enlisted and commissioned Sailors on how they ultimately evolve as leaders. It, more than any other element, sets the tone for exactly how singularly irreplaceable personal example is in building bold, accountable, confident leadership.

PART 4 Good Order and Discipline (LINK)

Very few things have a greater impact on warfighting readiness and our ability to accomplish mission than Good Order & Discipline. Good Order & Discipline is something difficult to define but easy to sense. To me, it is about establishing, sustaining and enforcing professional standards that set the condition for individual and unit success. Anything that interferes with or detracts from those conditions is contrary to Good Order & Discipline.

A nice package in PDF format is available HERE.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

General Lloyd J. Austin III - Selfless Warrior

Lloyd J. Austin III of Mobile, Alabama can best be described as the Soldiers' General.  And some in the Navy are ready to call him the Sailors' General, as well.  He wasn't in charge long before he made it known that he was a team leader, ready to listen to all the Services with no parochial Army interests in mind.  In an age of extreme criticism of our general and flag officers, here's a guy who is so much less about being a GO (General Officer) and so much more about those he leads.  Talk to his 'troopers'.  He is a Troopers' General and those troopers are America's finest young men and women - men and women of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Abuse of Position and Bribery

A United States Navy Reserve Captain used his official position as a reservist to obtain contracts for private sector companies with which he had an affiliation. 

In addition, the Captain accepted a “finder’s fee” (i.e., kickbacks) from one company for his efforts in helping the company obtain government contract work. 

For his significant ethical failure, the Captain was “allowed” to retire at the grade of Commander, though he had been selected to be an Admiral. In addition, the Captain was debarred for one year, while two of the affiliated companies entered into administrative agreements (for 3 years) with the military service. 

From the  
Encyclopedia of Ethical  Failures
Department of Defense, Office of General Counsel,
Standards of Conduct Office 
Updated July 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

RADM George Patrick March Award 2012

RADM G. P. March
Commander, U.S Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet announced Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Georgia as the 2012 winner of the Command Language Program of the Year, also known as the Rear Admiral G.P. March Award.

NIOC Georgia's Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class Michael H. Gray was announced as the Language Professional of the Year winner. The awards program recognizes the best language professionals in the Fleet Cyber Command domain and the winners will be nominated to compete at the Navy-wide level. 

"This is another example of great Sailors doing great work while deployed around the globe and here at NIOC Georgia - committed both to mission and to personal and professional excellence," said Captain James Brokaw (one of the Navy's best Russian linguists in the mid-1970s), NIOC Georgia Commanding Officer, and Commander, Task Force 1050. "This selection is an honor for us and will motivate us to achieve even greater results in the coming year," said Brokaw. 

NIOC Hawaii received honorable mention for the Command program and Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class Kate E. Greifzu, NIOC Maryland, received honorable mention for Language Professional of the Year. "This program recognizes the best language professionals in our domain and all command nominees should be rightfully proud of their accomplishments," said Vice Admiral Michael S. Rogers, Commander, U.S Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet.

Notes from RADM G. P. March - Commander, Naval Security Group Command 1974-1978

Greatest Satisfaction – that when I retired, I left the Naval Security Group Command in outstanding shape. It was a smooth functioning organization, both headquarters and field stations. I had confidence in the personnel at all levels of command. I experienced the warm feeling that the professionalism of our people was unmatched elsewhere in the Navy.

Greatest Disappointment – That we didn’t have another flag officer to wear my other hat (Op-944). I think both jobs suffered by my having to split my time between Nebraska Ave. and the Pentagon. The Communications people had the luxury of two flags: one for NAVTELCOM and one for Op-941.

From RADM G. Pat March's letter to me in July 2008 discussing the highs and lows he experienced while Commander, Naval Security Group Command from 1974-1978 (during the period I underwent language training and was assigned as a CTI2 at U.S. Naval Security Group Misawa, Japan in 55 Division (Direct Support -Submarines).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jim Murphy - A real professional

Sailors at all levels need more than just “Zeroing in on Excellence,” but it’s a fantastic and appropriate start for the new MCPON. If taken to heart, it will go a long way toward making the best Navy better. Professional sailors will heed his words and turn them into action; amateurs will disregard his call as just another new program. As MCPON Stevens wrote, we need professionals; there is no room for amateurs. 

From Jim Murphy's excellent article in the December issue of PROCEEDINGS magazine.  You can read it all HERE.

I have been espousing the value of Command Excellence for nearly 26 years, since my first seminar in 1986.  It's ALL good stuff.  Nice to see the MCPON is onboard!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Courtesy - not nearly as common as one might expect it to be

Courtesy is an act or verbal expression of consideration or respect for others. When a person acts with courtesy toward another, the courtesy is likely to be returned. We are courteous to our seniors because we are aware of their greater responsibilities and authority. We are courteous to our juniors because we are aware of their important contributions to the Navy’s mission. 

 In the military service, and particularly in the Navy where personnel live and work in close quarters, courtesy is practiced both on and off duty. Military courtesy is important to everyone in the Navy. If you know and practice military courtesy, you will make favorable impressions and display a self-assurance that will carry you through many difficult situations. Acts of respect and courtesy are required of all members of the naval service; the junior member takes the initiative, and the senior member returns the courtesy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Teach our children

"America's most important role in the world, almost from the day our country was born, has been the role of moral leadership...

Teach our young people to believe in the responsibility of one to another; their responsibility to God; to the people of the world. 

Teach them to believe in themselves; to believe in their worth as human beings; to believe in their place in leading the world out of the darkness of oppression. 

Teach them to believe that no one owes us a living, but that we owe so much to others. 

Teach them to believe in their priceless heritage of freedom, and that it must be won anew by every generation. 

And teach them to believe in the United States of America. 

The hope of the world lies here, in our physical power, our moral strength, our integrity, and our will to assume the responsibilities that history plainly intends us to bear." 

Admiral Arleigh A. Burke
United States Navy
From NAVPERS 15890
Moral Leadership: The Protection of Moral Standards and Character Education Program

Monday, December 3, 2012

Think about it

You're the Captain, the Skipper, the CO, the man/woman in charge.  You're busy leading your team to new levels of excellence.  You may want to consider this:

You may be an Accidental Diminisher:
  1. You’re a visionary – You are a big thinker and lay out a compelling vision of the future that you evangelize to those around you. You think you’re following popular leadership practice, but you may not be leaving enough space for others to think through the challenges for themselves and generate intellectual muscle to make a vision a reality.
  2. You’ve got the gift of gab – You’re passionate and articulate and can consume a lot of space in a meeting.  You may think your passion is infectious, but more likely it is stifling the thinking of others.
  3. You’re a creative, idea person – You’re a fountain of innovation, continually spouting new ideas for your team to play with.  You may think you’re sparking creativity, but you are quite possibly causing organizational whiplash as people around you scurry to keep up with each new idea.
Read more about Accidental Diminishers HERE.  Our Sailors deserve your best effort.  Give it to them.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Say "Thank You" before it is too late

Norman B. Macintosh - "N.B."
Recently, while facing a perplexing budget issue, I was telling a colleague of mine about a great professor who I was fortunate to have at Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California.  He taught an excellent course called the 'Social Software of Financial Accounting'.  He was either a singularly impressive professor or I am suffering from an increasingly poor memory because I can't recall another professor's name from that time.  Norman B. "NB" Macintosh was on loan to us from Queen's University in Canada where he was Professor Emeritus.  Dr. Macintosh received both research and teaching awards from the Canadian Academic Accounting Association during his career ("distinguished contribution to thought" and "outstanding educator," respectively).

The conversation with my colleague brought to mind the fact that I had allowed my correspondence with "NB" (nota bene ~ meaning to 'note well') to lapse.  I was determined to renew my correspondence with him and send him a note of thanks for the lasting impression he made on my education and my thinking.  I searched for his address in the international 411 directory and also found him in the Queen's University faculty directory.  I wrote my letter and searched for additional details about what he had been up to since NPS.  To my great dismay, I came across an "In Memoriam Tribute" to him on the Queen's School of Business website from 19 May 2011.  My heart sank.  I was too late.

The lesson for me (and perhaps for you) is not to wait too long to say thanks to those who have helped expand our minds and who have demanded more of us than we thought ourselves capable.

Thank you professor N.B.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Your closest companion

So, Soldiers, Airman, Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen – “…when you have shut your doors and darkened your room, you will find yourself in the company of the closest companion, the most reliable ally, and the warmest friend you will ever know: your own conscience.”

Senator Bob Kerrey