Friday, August 30, 2013

Maintaining the Momentum - From the OPNAV N2N6

Get the full scoop.  Check with your leadership for the August 2013 IDC Newsletter.

Information Dominance Corps –

Let me begin by saying how pleased and honored I am to be a member of the IDC. This is an opportunity of a lifetime and I couldn’t be more excited about the challenges we face together. Although primarily a consumer of your products and services for the bulk of my career, I have been thoroughly impressed with the technical talent and professionalism I’ve seen over the last two months; I truly believe the IDC is on the cutting edge of warfighting in the Information Age.

Starting with a superb turnover from VADM Card and continuing through my first few  weeks on the job, my experience so far has confirmed for me that Information Dominance is a new center of gravity for the Navy. I’ve examined each of the Information Dominance strategies cover to cover; they are solid, forward-leaning, and match the CNO’s core tenets very well. I’ve met individually with the CNO, the Vice Chief, and Admiral Gortney; each has an undeniably clear view of Information Dominance as a force multiplier, and each has high expectations with respect to your crucial role in it. I’ve conferred with most of the flag and senior executive leaders of the IDC, and shared my principal goals: 1) Realize the Information Dominance Strategy, and 2) Shape the IDC with a warrior ethos to match its position as Navy’s newest warfighting pillar.

Make no mistake. We are at the dawn of a new age of warfare—everything we do is about warfighting. I am thrilled to be a part of this outstanding team and I greatly look forward to advancing the Navy’s Information Dominance agenda with you. 

VADM Ted Branch

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Poor Command Climate Results in CO Firing

Captain Kevin Knoop, the commanding officer of USNS COMFORT's medical treatment facility, was removed “after an investigation identified command climate issues and a lack of leadership engagement,” according to an MSC news release.

Rear Admiral Thomas Shannon, Commander, Military Sealift Command (MSC) fired the senior naval officer aboard the hospital ship USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20) on Tuesday, citing him for command climate problems and for being unengaged, according to a news release.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gone 6 years now - NEVER forgotten

Master Chief Petty Officer Ronald N. Schwartz passed away on 27 August 2007 following a fatal tractor accident near his home in Indiana. He had a distinguished career as a Cryptologic Maintenance Technician in the Naval Security Group. He served in USS BIDDLE, in The White House Communication Office, at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Education and Training, as an instructor at Naval Technical Training Center - Corry Station - Pensacola, Florida and as Command Master Chief for U.S. Naval Security Group Activity - Yokosuka, Japan.

One of the young men he influenced there (now CTRCM Cedric Rawlinson) has taken his place as the Command Master Chief twelve years later.

He was foremost a career-long advocate for the Cryptologic Maintenance Technicians afloat and serving in the Fleet Electronic Support shops around the world. HIS MESSAGE: Never doubt the value of our Cryptologic Technicians; for the most part, theirs is a unique contribution to the Navy's warfighting ability. That capability must be preserved for the good of the nation.

Monday, August 26, 2013


The commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 106 (VFA-106) has been fired due to an alleged affair with a female Navy civilian.

Commander Edward White was relieved on 26 August as Commanding Officer of the “Gladiators,” based out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia.

The Navy cited a “loss of confidence in his ability to command following the preliminary findings of an ongoing command investigation into an alleged inappropriate relationship with a female Department of the Navy civilian employee.”

Rear Admiral Michael Shoemaker, Commander, AIRLANT, made the decision to fire the CO.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Go further together

If you want to go faster, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.

African Proverb

From Mark Miller via Twitter

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Navy icon passes away - CWO4 Exum died on Monday 19 August 2013

CWO4 Exum - Sailor rest your oars

Born on 10 May 1927, Wallace Louis Exum remains the embodiment of true Navy leadership. He was a man who lived his life richly in our Navy’s history, has performed bravely in battle, written lovingly about our Navy’s past and has prepared so many young men and women to lead our Navy’s future.

The Navy brought onto its rolls an improbable leader and a truly remarkable individual in an underaged 16 year old Seaman Recruit named Wallace Louis Exum in September 1943. Born in Akron, Ohio and raised mostly in the Los Angeles, California area by his two very loving parents, “Wally” Exum knew he had to perform his patriotic duty and join his young friends fighting the war in the Pacific.

Seaman Exum had not been in the Navy long before he strayed from his true course. More than once, he ran afoul of the Navy’s rules and regulations. Somewhere early-on he earned the nickname “Bigtime” for his easy-going manner, his extra thick Navy mattress and his home-of-record -- Los Angeles. More than once he had some difficulty in finding his way back to his ship on time. But, he never did anything seriously wrong and NEVER ONCE did he ever do anything with malice against anyone.

17 February 1945 marked one of the many milestones in his life when he was wounded in battle as his Landing Craft Infantry (LCI-457) came under fire during the battle for Iwo Jima. On 17 February 1945, Landing Craft Infantry vessels supported underwater demolition teams (UDT), which conducted beach and surf condition surveillance and neutralized underwater obstacles. Japanese coastal batteries heavily damaged 12 of the vessels, resulting in 38 killed and 132 wounded. At 18 years old, Wally was among those many young men wounded who earned the Purple Heart Medal. The skipper of his LCI, a Lieutenant, won the Navy Cross.

Having won the war on both sides of the world, the military released many young men from the service. Wally Exum was among those men. But, somehow, he always found his way back to the Navy. He served in the Navy during the Korean War, Vietnam and throughout the Cold War. 

Over his career he found himself at sea for 18 years and gave the Navy and the nation 42 years of selfless service. His service took him around the world. He continues to serve the Navy in retirement today as a “Goodwill Ambassador”; his wonderful books tell the Navy’s story – and a wonderful story it is.

In 1981 at 55 years old, he was the first (and only) Chief Warrant Officer assigned as an instructor to the Navy’s Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Newport, Rhode Island. Somehow, the Chief of Naval Personnel, VADM Lando W. Zech had a personal hand in assigning CWO3 Exum to OCS. As a Celestial Navigation instructor, he would prepare hundreds of young men and women for successful careers as Naval officers – showing them all how to “navigate life – steering one’s true course”.

VADM Zech was certain that CWO3 Exum was the right man to develop these young men and women into professional Naval officers. VADM Zech sent exactly the right man. By all reports CWO3 Exum was an excellent navigation instructor.

With few (if any) exceptions, the officer candidates loved their instructor. Frequently he would spend many extra hours in the evenings with the officer candidates, teaching them the finer points of using a sextant to “shoot the stars” – absolutely essential to celestial navigation.

His evening lectures always ended with the same admonition to the young people trusted to his care. “Remember, ladies and gentlemen”, he would always say, “you can shoot the stars but we never shoot the moon.” The groans from the officer candidates would follow him all the way back to the parking lot where he parked a beautiful convertible Cadillac that his “even more beautiful” Joyce (one of the two loves in his life – the other being his daughter Marilyn) had given to him.

Without their realizing it at the time, Warrant Officer Exum was teaching these young people how to navigate their lives – not just celestial navigation. He taught them good manners, courtesy, honesty, patience, teamwork, integrity and so much more. He taught hundreds of young men and women to be good Naval officers. Those officers went on to lead thousands of Chief Petty Officers and Sailors in our great Navy. It is reasonable to say that CWO Exum impacted the lives of tens of thousands of Sailors through his good work and leadership in Newport, Rhode Island. He helped produce countless Navy Captains and certainly a few Admirals for the Navy. Not too bad for a 55 year old Chief Warrant Officer who was originally uncertain about his ability to get the job done for his friend and mentor, Vice Admiral Zech.

Following duty as an instructor and Company Officer at Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, CWO4 Exum was assigned as the Security Officer at the Fleet Activity Sasebo, Japan. Once again, he was challenged to put Sailors on their true course. He had no idea that he would be providing course corrections for his Commanding Officer. But, it didn’t matter. The CO was off course and it was CWO4 Exum’s duty to bring him back to the right course. Turns out the CO was violating Navy Regulations by allowing bulk sales of alcohol to Sailors during all hours of the day and was not attentive to many security issues confronting Fleet Activities Sasebo. Besides being against Navy Regulations, these bulk alcohol sales were creating all kinds of discipline problems among the Sailors in Sasebo – a lot of Sailors and a lot of alcohol are not a good mix. CWO4 Exum tactfully and discretely let the CO know that the bulk alcohol sales were prohibited by Navy Regs and were causing some discipline problems among the Sailors, as well as some black- market issues with the Japanese. CWO4 Exum also informed the CO about a number of security issues the base faced. The CO wouldn’t hear any of it. CWO4 Exum knew he had to get the CO on course to protect the CO from himself and to protect the Sailors. He told the CO he would take it up the chain of command. Anyone who knows anything about the Navy understands this put CWO4 Exum in a really tough spot. No one enjoys telling their CO that he’s wrong. And the CO sure doesn’t enjoying hearing it. But CWO4 Exum had long ago committed himself to “steering a true course”. CWO4 Exum filed his report and the CO promptly sent the Chief Warrant Officer to the psychiatric ward at the Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan. It was readily apparent to the doctors examining CWO4 Exum exactly what the CO had in mind. They kept CWO4 Exum aboard for a short period and released him back to Sasebo “fit for full duty.” Somehow the bulk alcohol sales ended soon thereafter and CWO4 Exum got the attention of the right people in the chain of command to the correct the many security deficiencies aboard Sasebo. Once again, this part of the Navy was back on its “one true course.”

And that is what his life is all about. You’ll find him teaching celestial navigation in the middle and high schools in Washington State from time to time. I am sure those students haven’t figured it out yet but ‘ol mister Exum is teaching them how to navigate life. Those kids are still getting lessons in courtesy, teamwork, honesty and so much more. Count on CWO4 Exum to make sure all the charts are current, we’re steering by the stars, we’re taking the whole crew and everyone is steering “one true course”.

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is a lesson in manliness.

This short piece won the "2010 LESSONS IN MANLINESS" contest sponsored by THE ART OF MANLINESS blog.

Seven truths about leadership success

1. There aren’t any shortcuts – Do the work.  Read.  Study other leaders.  Find a mentor.
2. Great leaders started by being great followers – Learn to be a good follower and you’ll learn what it takes to be a good leader.  If you never learned to follow, leading may be a challenge for you.
3. There’s no mysterious secret to leadership – An honest effort to help others reach their potential is useful.
4. You already know what it takes to be a good leader – Be nice. Play well with others. Say please and thank you. Do what you can to help others. Of course you have to mature and apply those fundamentals in adult ways like being transparent and authentic with others.
5. The difference between management and leadership is overrated – Leaders have to manage and managers have to lead. Learn to do them both well because they are much more similar than they are different.
6. Leaders aren’t special – If you view leadership as service, which I happen to do, you should consider your team members more important than yourself. Get your ego out of the way and you’ll be on your way to success.
7. Leadership is much more about who you are than what you do – If you want to be a successful leader, your primary focus should be on the inner work that is required, not on behavioral tricks or techniques.
From Randy Conley, Trust Practice Leader for the Ken Blanchard Companies.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lean out of the boat

I am an unabashed fan of the Information Dominance Corps leadership and here's why.

Much of the Navy's time is spent on Risk Management of all types (i.e., Liberty Risk, Operational Risk Management, Health Risk, Safety Risk, and the list goes on nearly without end.)

As Seth Godin has stated: "The purpose of the modern organization is to make it easy and natural and expected for people to take risks. To lean out of the boat. To be human."

In many Navy commands, the opposite is happening.  Risk is avoided at all costs.  Much time is spent avoiding that "one mistake" that takes you out of the promotion cycle.  Godin calls this "institutionalized cowardice"  Too many Sailors have the opportunity to say "that’s not my job.”  Don't be one of them.

What we are seeing more and more of in the IDC is that senior leadership is providing a platform for bravery instead. It's been awhile since the messenger has been shot.  Even VADM Card has taken the message to the CNO personally for the community.  The IDC is embracing new ideas every day and the best chance you have of getting your idea adopted is to share it.  Put it down on paper and send it up the chain - VFR direct, if you have that much courage.  I check with N2N6 and FCC/C10F staff officers regularly and I can tell you - the messengers are all ALIVE and WELL and so are the thinkers and doers. 

Go ahead, your leadership has made it natural and easy - BE BRAVE - share those ideas.  Lean out of the boat.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Standards for Commanding Officers

Below are the high standards expected of Commanding Officers nominated for the VADM James Bond Stockdale Leadership Award.

The most important criteria will be a judgment of the command's overall excellence, which can be attributed to the CO's personal initiatives and performance. Time-honored principles of leadership are well known: setting an outstanding example, motivating subordinates, and enforcing standards. High standards of military behavior, courtesy, demeanor, and appearance have always been the hallmarks of a well-led command. An overall tone of positive achievement is conducive to combat readiness, discipline, and high performance.

Truly effective leaders know the weapons system and how to fight it to maximum advantage. They know their personnel and take care of them. In fulfillment of these duties, the CO's conduct is governed by a special set of moral, ethical, and behavioral standards that distinguish the military leader from civilian managers in society at large.

These are indeed high standards but they should be the MINIMUM standard against which our Commanding Officers are evaluated.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


"If you trust your Sailors completely, you will be disappointed occasionally, but if you mistrust your Sailors, you will be miserable all the time."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

In case you missed it

Navy Information Operations Command, Texas

NIOC Texas executes SIGINT and Computer Network Operations at sea, in the air and on the ground-in support of Fleet, theater and national maritime requirements in the USSOUTHCOM and USNORTHCOM AOR. 

NIOC TX is committed to the training, welfare and professionalism of our Sailors, to supporting our families and to the honor of the United States Navy and our country it serves.

Navy Information Operations Command Texas held a change of command recently.  Captain David Bondura was relieved by Captain John A. Watkins.  Captain Bondura has reported to Commander TENTH Fleet.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

CPO 365 hits a snag

From Navy Times...

In the wake of reports of “unprofessional behavior” during CPO 365 Phase II — formerly known as chief induction — Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens has ordered a two-day standdown to allow commands to re-evaluate how they’re conducting the training of chief-selects. 

The pause in training started at 7 a.m. Monday and ends at the same time Wednesday. 

“I’ve had two anonymous reports of unprofessional behavior happening during CPO 365 Phase II,” MCPON Stevens said in a statement Tuesday. “It’s important to give every CPO Mess a moment to take time and review the CPO Guidance, ensuring that all are operating within the guidelines that were prescribed.”

Today, Thursday 15 August 2013, the CPO 365 training has recommenced.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Captain Doug Powers assumes command of Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command

Captain Douglas A. Powers relieved Captain Alan F. Kukulies as Commanding Officer of Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command (NCDOC) on 9 August 2013.

Kukulies, who assumed command of Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command July 22, 2011,led the command through the complex and challenging planning for a successful move from JEBLCFS, Virginia Beach, Va., to the Global Network Operations and Security Center in Suffolk, Va., scheduled for late 2013.

"It truly has been a privilege to serve with the professional men and women of the NCDOC team. Their commitment to our mission and to our nation will remain with me as a memorable source of pride," said Kukulies, reflecting on his time at NCDOC.

NCDOC is responsible for around the clock protection of the Navy's computer networks. It evolved from the Navy Computer Incident Response Team which was established in January 1996 as part of the Fleet Information Warfare Center. NCDOC was commissioned as an Echelon IV command under Naval Network Warfare Command in January 2006, and moved under Fleet Cyber Command in 2011.

Taken from Navy News.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

This Moment

This is from an article in HBR by Peter Bergman but the point has been made by Commander Sean Heritage and I repeatedly in a number of our blogposts.

"So here's the question I'd like to propose you ask yourself throughout your day: What can I do, right now, that would be the most powerful use of this moment?

What can I say? What action can I take? What question can I ask? What issue can I bring up? What decision can I make that would have the greatest impact?

Asking these questions — and answering them honestly — is the path to choosing new actions that could bring better outcomes. The hard part is following through on the answers and taking the risks to reap the full benefits of each moment. That takes courage. But it's also what brings the payoff."

Peter Bergman

Monday, August 12, 2013

CPO 365. How did you do?

16 September 2013 marks the culmination of 364 days of preparing First Class Petty Officers for Chief Petty Officer since the last pinning ceremony.  It will be a proud day for some of our best Sailors and their families.  But what does it mean for those not selected for promotion?  For some PO1s, we'll see them dig in and study more.  Some will chase additional collateral duties.  Others will pursue additional warfare qualifications.  Some will terminate shore duty to pursue more challenging assignments at sea.  Still others will just quit in frustration.

Where does the CPO Mess fit in all this?  Just like other Navy instructions, policies, manuals and record messages on any number of topics, the MCPON's Guidance for CPO 365 will be ignored by Chiefs who know "a better way."  How do we measure the true effectiveness of the mess?  Who holds them accountable for CPO365?  What can we say about the mess, which after 365 days of training can't produce a single new CPO at a command?  Preparing PO1s for Chief Petty Officer is no easy task.  It requires the active engagement of every CPO in the mess.  The leader of the mess (not always the CMC) has to demand participation in every phase of CPO365 by every CPO in the mess.  Every PO1 in the command has to be engaged by the mess.  There has to be a plan.  The MCPON has provided the framework.  Each command's CPO mess has to provide the particulars.  If it's not on your mess calendar, it's not likely to happen.  Don't have a mess calendar?  Start one.

Go back and take a hard look at your CPO selection rate for 2013.  How many test takers?  How many board eligible?  How many selected?  Satisfied?  MCPON's "Zeroing in on Excellence" can help you do better.  The mess has to concentrate their attention on his three fundamental focus areas: (1) Developing leaders; (2) Good order and discipline and (3) Controlling what we own.

As the MCPON says, "Making the Navy run is a job for professionals only - we simply do not have room for amateurs.  Professionals know what the priorities are and where to apply energy - they are not easily distracted by the white noise beyond their control."

Didn't do so well this year?  Recommit yourself to fulfilling the promise of sound leadership found in the MCPON's CPO365 Guidance.  Need more help?  Ask for it.  Make a better plan for 2014.  Remember the adage - FAIL TO PLAN; PLAN TO FAIL. Prepare your PO1s for the challenges ahead as CPOs.  Mentor them, teach them, challenge them, quiz them, demand more of them and watch them get promoted.  There are few days in a Sailor's career that match the pride of being pinned a Chief Petty Officer in September.  This is NOT an event where you want to be standing on the sidelines.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

As we head toward pinning our newest Chief Petty Officers

The Guiding Principles
Deck Plate Leadership:  Chiefs are visible leaders who set the tone. We will know the mission, know our sailors, and develop them beyond their expectations as a team and as individuals.
Institutional and Technical Expertise:  Chiefs are experts in their field, we will use experience and technical knowledge to produce a well trained enlisted and office team. ​
Professionalism:  Chiefs will actively teach, uphold and enforce standards.  We will measure ourselves by the success of our Sailors.  We will remain invested in the Navy through self motivated military and academic education and training and will provide proactive solutions that are well founded, thoroughly considered, and linked to mission accomplishment. ​
Character:  Chiefs abide by an uncompromising code of integrity, take full responsibility for their actions and keep their word.  This will set a positive tone for the command, unify the mess and create esprit de corps. ​
Loyalty:  Chiefs remember that loyalty must be demonstrated to seniors, peers, and subordinates alike, and that it must never be blind.  Few things are more important than people who have moral courage to question the appropriate direction in which an organization is headed and then the strength to support whatever final decisions are made. ​
Active Communication:  Chiefs encourage open and frank dialogue, listen to Sailors and energize the communication flow up and down the chain of command.  This will increase unit efficiency, mission readiness, and mutual respect. ​
Sense of Heritage:  Defines our past and guides our future.  Chiefs will use heritage to connect Sailors to their past, teach values and enhance pride in our country

Friday, August 9, 2013

Worth a post of its own from LDO 6440

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.

What's missing?

"Many people have the ability to review something and make it better. Few are able to identify what is missing."

Rumsfeld's Rules

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Today, O5 command in the Information Warfare community offers about 100 weeks for a Commanding Officer to show his/her EXTRAORDINARY leadership ability.  100 weeks pass in a flash.  Being an extraordinary Commanding Officer is a purposeful choice.  The decision to be extraordinary has to be made long before one assumes command, otherwise it is too late.

From Seth Godin we know there are two key elements in the choice to be extraordinary:

1. Skill. The skill to understand the domain, to do the work, to communicate, to lead, to master all of the details necessary to make your promise of servant leadership come true. All of which is difficult, but insufficient, because none of it matters if you don't have...

2. Care. The passion to see your vision through. The willingness to find a different route when the first one doesn't work. The certainty that in fact, there is a way, and you care enough to find it. Amazingly, this is a choice, not something you need to get certified in.  It's often been said that Sailors don't care how much you know; they want to know how much you care.  Care enough to be extraordinary.  Our Sailors deserve it.

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

Monday, August 5, 2013

Principle of Reciprocity

Given that every human culture (even the officer corps of the USN) follows the rule of reciprocity, we can think of it as a powerful universal law. It’s very simple: “If you give something to me, I am obligated to give something in return.”

In addition, “You are given a moment of power after someone has thanked you. .  .” Take care to use the moment productively. For example, don’t say, “It was nothing, no problem at all.” Use the influence you’ve just won by saying “I was glad to help. It’s what Shipmates do for one another. I’m sure you would do the same for me.”

The idea is uncomplicated:  Get inspired - be inspiring; get a message - send a message; get a call - make a call; get a letter - write a letter; get an e-mail - send an e-mail; receive a favor - give a favor.  And so on.  Keep the cycle going.

This principle explains why successful Navy professionals are so committed to networking. In networking, we share information, leads, and even leadership secrets—relying completely on the principle of reciprocity. Without reciprocity, networking is useless.

Want to learn more?  Hell yes, you do.  Go HERE.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

We Can Do Better. We Must Do Better

Recent studies show that only 7 percent of Sailors  have trust and confidence in their senior leaders. How can we ever get our organizations to succeed if so few Sailors believe in their senior leaders? 

Leadership, and specifically leadership culture, is the only real differentiator between the organizations that thrive and those that fall behind.  Charting A New Course to Command Excellence explains it all.  

Leave a comment with your email address and I'll get a copy to you.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sage Advice from Navy Grade 36 Bureaucrat

1. Counsel often. Get into a habit of quarterly counseling (monthly won't work when you have a big division). I had a hard time at first counseling people, mainly because I simply waited until they messed up big time to then hammer them. That method, while in the short term is effective, means that you get to have uncomfortable conversations all the time, rather than focusing on building excellence. Quarterly counseling allows you the chance to talk to subordinates and lay out your expectations, and it gets them used to talking to you on a routine basis. It will likely nip problems in the bud sooner, and when it doesn't, you'll have documentation of ongoing issues.
2. Make sure your instructions are up to date. I'm shocked how many command instructions are antiquated, despite being "reviewed" every year. Take the time to make your command instructions match reality. Put in what you want and need to operate, not what you think sounds nice.
3. Use your division's SORM. If you haven't written a SORM for your division, you're missing the opportunity to lay out your expectations of how things run. For example, once I wrote what working hours were for unqualified vs. qualified personnel, my unqualified Sailors began making more progress on qualifications, a win-win for both sides.
4. Remember that fairness involves the Navy and taxpayer too. Don't screw the Navy and our taxpayers by letting little things slide because of a sob-story from one of your Sailors. There are second-order effects at play. For every sailor that cries his or her way out of a rule being enforced, you tell your other sailors it's OK to do that, and you likely pass the problems onto the next division officer or command. Enforcing rules doesn't make you un-human, rather, it helps you keep good order and discipline.

I agree with all four points above.  For more from NG36 Bureaucrat go HERE.

Friday, August 2, 2013

#1 Priority

"If you make Sailors your number one priority, Sailors will never be your number one problem." 
 From Mark Miller

Another Captain's Mast Story - Compassion?

Another story about Captain's Mast from U.S. NSGA Yokosuka circa 1997-2000.

We had a young female Sailor who was troubled.  From my previous post about Captain's Mast (Redemption through remediation), readers understand my sensitivity to being on time for work.

This young Sailor was late for work one particular morning and was reported as Unauthorized Absence (U/A) from morning muster.  That was as far as the Leading Petty Officer (LPO) went: he reported her as U/A.

Understand that our Sailors were just becoming accustomed to a Commanding Officer (me) who actually required a daily muster report. 

I inquired about the whereabouts of the Sailor.  The XO, division officer, division Chief and LPO reported that her whereabouts were unknown.  I asked if anyone had checked for her in her barracks room.  They had not.  The Command Duty Officer (CDO), a Senior Chief, was dispatched to the barracks to try to locate her.

As it turned out, she had over-medicated herself and the Senior Chief found her semi-conscious in her rack (bed).  An ambulance was called and she was transported to the base hospital a few blocks away.  This was apparently a suicide attempt/ideation.  Lots of baggage here that I won't go into but a Captain's Mast was pending for previous offenses.  Of course, she was administratively debriefed and lost her clearance.  Bottom line:  she was fortunate to have someone concerned enough about her whereabouts to physically check on her and verify she was okay.  The Senior Chief may have saved her life that day.

((NOTE: A HOTLINE call was made by a command member to the Commander, Naval Security Group Inspector General (IG) about the Commanding Officer (me) concealing and failing to report a suicide attempt.  Of course the Sailor was not aware of our various messages and phone calls to our Immediate Superior In Command (ISIC) and other links in the chain of command within 30 minutes of our learning of the suicide attempt from the hospital.))  For your edification, the previous CO was removed from command by the CNSG IG after failing two successive IG inspections.  I fielded more than my share of IG Hotline Complaints, Article 38 Grievances and Congressional Inquiries early in my command tour.  Sailors (at all paygrades through E-8) had become accustomed to trying to solve their problems through anonymous complaints to various IG and Congressional offices.  It took nearly two years to regain their trust and confidence.  We worked hard and got there together.  It was a painful process.  Not for the faint of heart.

I was in the habit of being in contact with the loved ones and parents of our Sailors.  This Sailor was no different.  I called her mother and let her know what was happening and that her daughter was safe and sound.  This was right around Thanksgiving and the mother had already purchased a plane ticket to Japan at considerable expense.  She feared she would not be able to make the trip to see her daughter due to the pending Captain's Mast and the punishment that was sure to be imposed.  I assured her that I would postpone the Captain's Mast until after her trip to Japan.  She came to Japan, had a wonderful time with her daughter and provided the soothing guidance that only a mother can provide.  Following Captain's Mast, the Sailor was separated from the Navy for reasons that should be clear to everyone.  Not everyone is meant to spend a career in the Navy.

Like other Sailors who went to Mast, she made a complete recovery.  It seemed to get her to pay attention to the problems she needed to face and modify the behaviors she needed to correct.  I am happy to say that she served our country again in Iraq in a different capacity and served with pride and distinction under hostile conditions.  She'd grown up.  The Navy helped her do that.

Some may think this is airing dirty laundry.  It's not.  It's  matter of record, if you know how to check the record.  There are so many lessons in this one experience with this one Sailor that I could write a short book on the many leadership lessons learned.

Zero defects Navy?  I don't think so.  This Sailors had MANY chances to correct her behavior before being separated from the Navy.  She made many choices not too.  No doubt she'd make different choices today.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sound Advice

Sometimes, the simplest advice is the best.  This is certainly good advice for all of us.