Sunday, June 29, 2014

Average leadership

The average Navy leader cannot help feeling that telling a Sailor to do something is almost the same thing as doing it himself.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Gertrude Stein

To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write. 

And, so I wrote.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Writing is writing

Planning to write is not writing.  Outlining a book is not writing.  Researching is not writing.  Talking to people about what you are doing, none of that is writing.  Writing is writing.

E. L. Doctorow

Today, I received letters from two NIOC COs, a NIOC XO, a NIOD OIC and a NWC graduate attending the Warfighting school.  As you can imagine, it was a very good day for me. These men understand what it means to write.  As per H.L. Mencken's example, I will send out my responses by day's end.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

H.L. MENCKEN - on competence

“The most steadily attractive of all human qualities is competence. One invariably admires a man who is good at his trade, whatever it must be — who understands its technic thoroughly, and surmounts its difficulties with ease, and gets substantial rewards for his labors, and is envied by his rivals.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I like this approach by H.L. Mencken. Though it is not a trait ascribed to many naval officers any longer, answering one's mail was once the standard.

In his correspondence, Mencken adhered to the most basic social principle: reciprocity. If someone wrote to him, he wrote back.   He believed writing back was “only decent politeness.”

He reasoned that if it were he who had initiated correspondence, he would expect the same courtesy. “If I write to a man on any proper business and he fails to answer me at once, I set him down as a boor and an ass.”

Whether the mailman brought 10 or 80 letters, Mencken read and answered them all on the same day. He said, “My mail is so large that if I let it accumulate for even a few days, it would swamp me.”

The postal service used to pick up and deliver mail twice a day. It was frequent enough to allow Mencken to arrange to meet a friend on the same day, but not so frequent as to interrupt his work.

Writing does these three things:

1. Writing improves verbal abilities. 
2. Writing keeps information in our heads.
3. Writing keeps our brains young.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

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.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Secret Code of the Officer Detailing Language

Detailers have a full set of sales pitches to smooth the process of getting you to the job they want you to take. Let us discuss a few of them. From RADM Winnifield's - Career Compass

"We need your expertise in the job."

In this pitch the detailer emphasizes your experience in a similar job and the need for it in a follow-on job. In this formulation you are a pro whose abilities are badly needed in the open billet. On the other hand, if you have never been in a similar assignment before, the detailer may pitch it by saying, "You need to broaden your area of expertise to become promotable or more assignable downstream."

"This job requires a high-performing officer."
This pitch is not only to your ego but also to get you into a billet that demands a high performer. The detailer is telling you that the placement officer will not accept just anybody to fill the open billet. The implication is that the billet is a plus in your career planning. But the detailer may also be telling you that you may be put in with a group of highly motivated individuals where the competition will be fierce (which is not all bad).

"This job calls for an officer in the grade of [the next highest rank]."
This pitch means that no qualified officer was available at the higher grade to fill the billet. You should ask why. Chances are that it is a less-desirable billet at that grade and that they had a hard time finding an officer to fill it. Therefore, the system has downshifted to fill it. This can be an opportunity, but it is just as likely that the billet has been misgraded.

"You were recommended (or asked for) to fill this billet."
This sales pitch is another appeal to your ego. Being asked for is nice, but is this a job that fits in with your progression to screening for command? How will it look to a promotion board? The people who asked for you or recommended you will not be identifiable to or known by the boards unless the billet is a high-visibility one (in which case there is no problem). A variant of this pitch is that you are among two or three nominees for the job-and the nominees are well known to you to be high performers.

"Your timing is great."

In this pitch the detailer knows you are coming up before a screening or promotion board (say in the next year) and that the job on offer will enhance your resume. In a variation of this pitch, the detailer will say that the boss is well known and that it would be in your interest to have a fitness report signed by that individual before the board meets. Another variation is that you will get to the command just before it deploys and hence will get valuable experience and a chance for a more impressive fitness report. There are many other variations of this game. It is like timing the stock market to buy or sell. You can get stung badly if you are wrong in the face of a fickle future. Remember: job first, timing second.

"You need more operational experience."

This statement may be true, but some operational experiences are better than others. To go to sea and be put on a deployable staff is helpful in one way, but if it delays assignment to a department head or command track billet, it is not as good as a ship or squadron billet.

"You have been selected for postgraduate instruction."

This may be just what you want. To be selected (meaning you made the cut) and to have an opportunity to earn a degree and to have some shore duty after an arduous sea tour can sound great. But be careful. Is that what you really want to do? Getting an advanced degree indicates one or two payback assignments are in your future. Are those payback tours likely to be in career-enhancing jobs?

"We need you back ashore."
The implication is that you have been at sea or in command long enough and that it is time to give others a chance. Never be talked into leaving a sea command early, no matter who wants you. You should leave command kicking and screaming. A year in command simply is not long enough to learn the business.

"This is a joint (or combined) billet."
Here the detailer will point out, if you do not already know it, that joint or combined duty is a prerequisite for selection to flag rank. But the type of billet (is it with the J-3 in the Joint Staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or in a small joint technical field activity?) and the timing (should you be at sea at this point?) are important factors. Keep your eye on your objective: qualifying for command. Your flag hurdles should take second in priority behind getting ready for command. That said, you would have a leg up in flag selection if you have already had your joint tour.

"You need the flight hours."

This ploy is normally used with aviators who are to be ordered to flying billets ashore. You may need the flight hours-or at least they would help you as you go up the ladder and strive to screen for squadron command. But a prior question is, why did you not get the needed hours in an earlier tour?

"You are going as an aide to the admiral."
Many years ago flag lieutenants were designated as staff communicators. These days flag lieutenants (at sea) and aides (ashore) are more the personal assistants than key members of the staff. They are seldom involved with the substance of the staff's business. Rarely would an admiral ask an aide's opinion on a major matter of substance in making a decision. Aide jobs can be good jobs, but not for the reasons you may think. You may think that you can do no wrong to be working directly for an admiral. You may think that the admiral may be able to help you with getting a plum follow-on assignment. This is wrong thinking, however. Moreover, your admiral almost surely will be long retired before that individual would have influence (if any) for the critical milestones for your career. My advice is to go into an aide tour with your eyes wide open. Filling the job does not mean you are one of the anointed; it is an interesting detour as you prepare yourself for command. If you have any control in the matter, do not stay in the job long. In a year you can learn most of what there is to learn.

"There are a lot of perks with the job."
You do not hear this as much today. In days past, a captain stationed in command overseas might have a number of perks: a personal auto and driver, special allowances, government quarters, household help-and even a personal aircraft and crew in some overseas assignments. Today the perks are more modest and in most cases limited to a few overseas jobs. It is axiomatic today that a good career job has terrible hours, family separation, no government quarters, some personal danger, a great deal of workplace pressure to produce, and often is located in a threatening neighborhood-or all of the above.

"This is a new (and important?) billet."
Billets are being established and disestablished daily. Just because the billet is new does not mean it is on the career main line. Many such billets are highly specialized, and their importance may be fad related. The Navy has fads as does any large organization. Special program billets can be very trendy and tricky, so buyer beware.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Many dimensions of the Naval profession

The naval profession has many dimensions, and they cannot be mastered all at one time.  First things must come first, and a fundamental knowledge of the sea and ships must precede all else.  I think it can be said, however, that any young man embarking on a naval officer's career today can rest assured of two fundamental points:  The Navy will be around in force for some time to come, and there will be plenty of challenges for his energies, not matter how great they are.

RADM James Calvert

Thursday, June 19, 2014

More Command Excellence - Not Rocket Science

• Lead by Example – Leaders have to change their own attitudes and behaviors before they can expect their Sailors to change.

• Listen Aggressively – Leaders don't simply listen, they hear what their Sailors say to them . They know that those on the deckplates are the ones most familiar with how operations can be more effective.

• Communicate Purpose and Meaning – Leaders help their Sailors understand (collectively and individually) how their work contributes to the success of the overall mission, as well as understand how that work supports the personal goals they have for themselves.

• Create a Climate of Trust – Leaders trust and cultivate trust from their Sailors. Without trust, the barriers that prevent excellent performance will never be lowered.

• Look for Results, Not Salutes – Leaders maximize performance by making their Sailors grow. Leaders experience success only when their Sailors experience success.hey success.

• Take Calculated Risks – Leaders know that taking prudent, calculated risks can help maximize performance.

• Go Beyond the Navy's Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) – Leaders see standard operating procedure as a guideline, because SOP may not change as rapidly as the environment and competition. Leaders foster a climate that encourages their Sailors to come up with better and more innovative ways to accomplish the mission.

• Strengthen Others/Build Up Your People – Leaders focus on making their Sailors grow and create an environment where all Sailors win, thereby making the entire command stronger.

• Generate Unity of Purpose – Leaders work to not only change undesirable behaviors but to alter the underlying attitudes. By working toward a mutual respect for all Sailors, they level the playing field, permitting all Sailors to perform at the highest levels.

• Cultivate Quality of Life – Leaders actively integrate fun into the work experience. Leaders want their Sailors to have as much fun from 6 am to 6 pm as they do at home from 6 pm to 6 am.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The naval officer is...

As the Officer Fact Book, NavPers 15898, states, the naval officer is above all a leader - responsible for directing the human effort of an organization and for property and lives.  The naval officer is a planner, responsible for large scale mobilization and world-wide  logistic programs and operations.  He is an administrator concerned with thousands of people, millions of dollars worth of material, and  extensive facilities.  He is an industrialist, a comptroller, a diplomat; a good manager of men and equipment, an exemplary ambassador of democracy in all parts of the world.  He is always a student.  His opportunities for experience are varied, and for education, they are limitless.  As he improves in his job, he improves the naval service and contributes to the welfare of the nation and the world.

Above all, the naval officer is a leader, in all the moral, psychological, and managerial meanings of the term.  His leadership is expressed by precept and example, by planning, and by action within the greatest Navy of all time -- a Navy that numbers its officers, enlisted personnel, and civilians in the hundreds of thousands, its operations in the complexities of tens of thousands of organizations and activities.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Navy's Leading Thinker in Ethics - RADM Walter "Slap Shot" Carter

Get your hands on the whole paper.  It is worth reading.  

14 March 2014
RADM Walter Carter
President - Naval War College

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lead the way

If your Sailors can't follow the way you lead, perhaps you should consider leading in a way your  Sailors can follow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Our Shipmate (perpetual rookie leader) CDR Sean Heritage wrote a cameo piece in this book

The book is available for pre-order now from AMAZON HERE.  I have my order in already for KINDLE. 

In a time of constant change, success depends on seeing the world through rookie eyes, and in this essential guide, the bestselling author of Multipliers explains why we are often at our best when we are doing something for the first time—and how to reclaim and cultivate this curious, flexible, youthful mindset called Rookie Smarts. 

In a rapidly changing world, experience can be a curse. Being new, na├»ve, and even clueless can be an asset. Rookies are unencumbered, with no baggage to weigh them down, no resources to burden them, and no track record to limit their thinking or aspirations. For today’s knowledge workers, constant learning is more valuable than mastery. 

Leadership expert Liz Wiseman argues that the most successful rookies are hunter-gatherers—alert and seeking, cautious but quick like firewalkers, and hungry and relentless like frontiersmen. Most importantly, she identifies a breed of leaders she refers to as “perpetual rookies.” 

Despite years of experience, they retain their rookie smarts, thinking and operating with the mindsets and practices of these high-performing rookies. 

Rookie Smarts addresses the questions every experienced professional faces: “Will my knowledge and skills become obsolete and irrelevant? Will a young, inexperienced newcomer upend my company or me? How can I keep up?” The answer is to stay fresh, keep learning, and know when to think like a rookie. 

Rookie Smarts isn’t just for professionals seeking personal renewal; it is an indispensable resource for all leaders who must ensure their workforces remains vital and competitive.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

An argument in favor of handwriting

Getty Images
Two psychologists, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles, have reported that in both laboratory settings and real-world classrooms, students learn better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard. Contrary to earlier studies attributing the difference to the distracting effects of computers, the new research suggests that writing by hand allows the student to process a lecture’s contents and reframe it — a process of reflection and manipulation that can lead to better understanding and memory encoding.

Not every expert is persuaded that the long-term benefits of handwriting are as significant as all that. Still, one such skeptic, the Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, says the new research is, at the very least, thought-provoking.

“With handwriting, the very act of putting it down forces you to focus on what’s important,” he said. He added, after pausing to consider, “Maybe it helps you think better.”

The full article from The New York Times is HERE.

Monday, June 2, 2014

CNO's Advice for Newly Commissioned Officers

You will be looked at for leadership among the people that you lead -- your division, your platoon, your squadron. They don’t want to really be your friend, but it would be nice if you were friendly.

They expect a human being, not a machine. But they also expect a leader. They want somebody to stand up and show them the way. That’s what we’ve trained you to do. You need to reach within.

You need to guard your integrity. No one can take your integrity from you. People can take a lot of things from you, but nobody can take your integrity away. That is uniquely yours. Only you maintain and guard that. I assure you that will be challenged. But I also assure you that your integrity, the ability to always tell and insist on [the truth, to always come forward and deal with the facts, is the foundation of what we do out there. We must believe what everybody tells us. Our lives depend on it.

Your allegiance, when you take the oath momentarily, your allegiance is to the institution. It’s not to your buddy, it’s not necessarily to your shipmate or your wingman. That’s all very important. But the absolute allegiance of what you’re about is to the institution. Remember that when you take your oath 

Be kind to everybody. Treat everyone with dignity and respect, because no one in this institution you are about to join is unimportant. We can’t afford to have folks who are unimportant. If you go to sea, if you fly in a jet, a helo, if you’re out among SEALs, if you’re with an explosive ordnance detachment, each member of the team has a critical part. We need to treat everybody with that dignity and respect and that understanding that your life -- your life -- depends on it, and their lives depend on you.

With that, you have to learn to trust shipmates. I will tell you that will be unique. You have never had to trust anybody as much as you’re going to have to trust people out there that you’re working with. Your life will depend on it. That’s one of the unique parts of our business.

Learn your Navy heritage. Everything that you have on today, your hat, your shoes, the rank that you have on the insignia, is all built on a heritage and a legacy and it has a reason, believe it or not. But it’s true. Learn it and you’ll understand it. It defines who you are and who you will be.

You need to wear sunscreen, it will take 20 years for sun cancer to emerge, but it will emerge. If you are on the bridge or on the flight deck, If you go out and about in the sun, it’s probably the thing that will be the biggest threat throughout your life; more than anything else. Wear sunscreen.

Lastly, this is the only directive I’m going to give to you. You’ll get enough direction out there, but this is from me. I want you to call or write your mother once a week. No one has the unconditional love for you than that person and that’s why you’re here today, because of that.