Monday, October 21, 2013

Ask your Sailors to be great

As you go about your daily routine, don't forget to ask your Sailors to do something great with their Navy careers.  There is nothing wrong with average lives and average achievements.  Most of the good in the Navy actually comes from seemingly average Sailors going about their daily routines.  But, you are a leader and part of a leader's responsibility is to call for the greatness in your Sailors.  It's there.  Sometimes, all a leader has to do is ask for it.  Give it a try.  I don't think your Sailors will let you down.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike, I believe this may place a focus on the wrong end of the spectrum. Our sailors are already great, it's our leaders, our Khaki that need the work, demonstratively! Our Sailors reflect, directly - their leaders.

Anonymous said...

How about the other way? In the spirit of "challenge up, support down" - that being, sailors asking, indeed demanding their CPO's and Commanding Officers be great, and asking them to do their jobs. Perhaps that might be an attention getter! Or perhaps, just the basics, like asking the Khaki to be within weight standards and to show up for work on time, you know, setting a good example for their sailors - lets start there.

mike said...

I guess I should have included that the seniors in our chain of command are "our Sailors" also. Sailors have every reason to expect great things from their leadership and from each other. Good point. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be awesome to have leaders who are faithful to their wives, honest to their peers and respectful of their subordinates? It's my minimum expectation. Many of my seniors don't live up to it. It's tough to serve when your seniors belief the rules don't apply to them. Fortunately, I have served with leaders of all kinds. You learn to deal with it and do the best you can for the Sailors you serve.

Anonymous said...

As I view it some of our KHAKI reflect the sailors they once were, over 60 percent of our KHAKI were once enlisted. So before we always blame the leaders lets take a look at the whole team. Yes I understand ultimate responsibility and accountability but that runs both ways. CDR Wilkes

Anonymous said...

CDR Wilkes -

Thank you for validating the previous points, those being, the failure of leadership. Thank you for that observation and thought, spot on! With all due respect to your rank, service and dedication to this great Nation, I disagree with your premiss and thesis of "paying forward" failure - BS shipmate!. Each and every day we are responsible, accountable and out front for who we are and what we do - If one is a fat, drunk slob in Khaki, time to go shipmate and those that promoted that sh!t show, see it all the time- you know who you are, do something about it, your sailors deserve and demand better.

There are standards and the current leadership "SUCKS" at enforcing them, so - we have the fat, non war-fighting, staff focused, failing, politically correct, hyperbole spouting Navy we have - Shameful.

Anonymous said...

The standard you walk by is the standard you accept.

There's more than enough blame to go around.

HMS Defiant said...

Anon,
Would it help you to know that I never gave a crap about weight standards and couldn't have cared less about them? If I had a problem sailor it was one who could not do the job. I didn't just get rid of them though. That was not my job. I found, running a division, that I might have 6 XX2 Petty Officers. One of them was fantastic at performing a significant component of his rate. The second and third were equally adept at doing another vital component of that same rating and the fourth and fifth were quite able at yet another necessary part of that rating. (It was a complex rating even then). The sixth was certifiably useless in every aspect of the job except for one thing. As it happens, the Chief and I needed someone with that particular talent and that alone was why he stayed. The ones that were truly useless were shipped home. Back then we had a program that allowed us to send home the stupid, ignorant and argumentative up to 10% a year. Of course, a lot of my time at sea was before weight standards sprang into being. Oddly enough, in all those years I never ran across a sailor at sea who was too fat to perform his job.

Do commands no longer have suggestion boxes on the premises? Does nobody ever open them and read what's inside? Some senior enlisted adviser really must tell us again their value to the command now that they stand no watch and perform no duties. How do these sorts of complaints fail to rise to the level of the command? Of course, I realize that it is nowadays quite impossible for a CO to appear at Commander's Call and tell those who ask the impertinent but ever so valuable questions that, "yes the man is too fat but he does his job too damned well for me to lose him at this time." Yep, we'd be reading about another unplanned loss but this one at the CO level.

I'm not sure why modern staff need to be all slim and pretty to the eye. I found it much easier to deal with them when they were actually at their desks during duty hours working rather than out running or working out at the gym every time I called.

Anonymous said...

@ HMS-

How many times did your ship, unit or team engage the enemy directly or come under direct, effective fire? Already know the answer, ZERO. If one is a fata$$, one is a liability, on many fronts. If you're a fata$$ on a staff, double liability, if working out during business hours, not doing one's job - again, talk to the leadership - I thinks thats BS too! Not sure what Navy you were in, glad I missed it shipmate, sounds like there were some serious training issues if you had to keep a fata$$ around to do a critical function, that's a fail HMS, big fail. - What if PO2 Fata$$ was hit by a jeepnee on the way to work, was there another fat@$$ in training? No No No -

Take a smoke break and think about that for minute- then check in with CDR Wilkes.

HMS Defiant said...

My first ship was the Middle East Force Flagship. We were within a few miles of Safina al Arab when she was hit by a missile and there were many other attacks. We also spent a month or so looking for mines in the Red Sea back in August of 1984. On my fourth ship we qualified 3 times for the Combat Action Ribbon. There was no running or combat situps to be seen.

Physical and weight standards may apply to ground forces but just what they have to do with fighting a ship is debatable and they're meaningless to navy shore staff INCONUS.

My web site lists the various commands and staffs I served on. The possibility that any one of those staff jobs could be degraded by body fat is ludicrous.

Perhaps it would help if I told you that my last command on active duty in the navy was with a security group and that we mustered every morning at 0700 and we PTd for an hour or so every day. That all were there including the commodore unless business kept them away. I didn't have any problems meeting or staying within the standard, I just thought they were violently counterproductive in the USN at sea.

First ship was a modified LPD. It was designed to be operated by a crew of 325. While in Diego Garcia we had a plane load of new personnel arrive from Norfolk. It had over 100 new crewmen on it. Yes, the navy of 1984 let a warship permanently forward deployed to Bahrain get to about 60% manning before getting the new guys out to it. You can bleat about leadership but our CO at the time, one of the very best I worked for, simply said that our tour lengths were fixed at 1 year and that we would rotate at 1 year or as close to that date as possible once we made port. Nobody was held up waiting for a contact relief. That was a measure of the faith that man had in the dedication and ability of his crewmen.

That fatass I referred to was the only 4294 coded man aboard in the Persian Gulf. He was the only man I had on that ship that could repair a/c and r systems. You're damned right I was pissed to be told that he had to be sent home because some lardass HQ type thought my man was too fat to fix a reefer. Don't you think I'd be the better judge of that man's actual abilities?

Your last bit of bleeding at the edges I should qualify. That was the ship that qualified 3 times for the Combat Action Ribbon in the space of 4 months. You can look them up. 25% of the crew changed out every single month for almost 3 years. Our crewmen mostly came from sister ships on the west coast but a lot of them just came curried out of the fleet's hide. THERE WAS NO TRAINING PIPELINE AT ALL in 1988. There was no CART, REFTRA, TSTA, no ULTRA, no COMPTUEX, NO NOTHING AT ALL. They showed up and we integrated them into the watchbill and we got underway that afternoon. 3 days later we'd be on task in one of the mine fields.

I had a CO once that said that "no man is essential" and he meant it. If a man wanted time off when we were in a critical underway or training evolution; request approved. One day I had the ship and he was not on time getting aboard. We were supposed to get underway at 0530 and proceed into dry dock so, with time and tide, and me, waiting for no man, or at least working hard at giving that appearance, I had the brow rigged in, the ship's lines taken in and was holding the ship on the pier using just engines and the rudder, when the CO finally showed up. He ran all the way down the pier and scampered up to the bridge where I welcomed him aboard. He was a little bit steamed. I explained that no man was essential.

That was my navy. I really don't think we would have enjoyed having you around. We had a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that we are equating 'leadership' to 'khaki'. Isn't the PO2 a leader to the PO3? The rank assigned to 'leadership' is relative to the person speaking.

Sailors should be challenged to be great. Collar device shouldn't matter.

*While not personally great, I do consider myself adequately challenged.

Anonymous said...

I believe that some folks in reference to this post are getting just a little testy. We all have our own opinion and I am sure that each of you understands what I mean by that. But to hassle each other with little mercy is not a necessary part of communications, in fact it only creates bad feelings and that invites more bad feelings and ill words from that person you insulted. Most of the Sailors and Ex-Sailors that post comments on this blog are senior to me when I was on active duty, and in my estimation sometimes you are hurtful of others, and I do not believe that is a necessary part of our communications with each other, a saying that I tried to live with for my Navy career was “you can disagree without being disagreeable”.

Very Respectfully,
Navyman834

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the passion here and comments. I have never walked by someone who needed correcting whether saluting or just needing some direction. I am not a fat ass and have been in the fight seven times. We have some great leaders and weak leaders, we have some great senior enlisted leaders and some weak leaders, and yes the PO2's are leaders, some weak, some strong. Been that way for 32 years. keep up the passion we can use that to make ourselves better. Paul

HMS Defiant said...

Well, I agree with Navyman834 and Paul so I guess I'll sign off.