Ensigns, don’t try this at your command
- You are a great speaker. Be careful not to lose the feeling behind the words. Words have meaning; actions have consequences. Ensure your actions match your words. Some Sailors actually listen to every word. They can sense any hint of insincerity.
- Your command philosophy should be written down and distributed widely in the command. This is a huge reason for the CNO’s success in the Navy. We all know where he’s going and we talk about it. The command wants to follow you. Tell us where you want to go.
- Respect our time. Typically, ten or more people are always awaiting your late arrival at some function (staff meeting, wardroom meetings, dinners, graduations, etc). If people believe that you are willing to consistently waste their time, they will stop feeling guilty about wasting yours.
- Be consistent with your administration of military justice. It’s easy to punish junior members in the command for trivial violations. Applying the same standards across the board does not always work. In fact, the more senior the individual is, the more accountable they should be held for their action or inaction. Everyone is watching and judging.
- When senior officers visit the command, maximize their exposure to the junior Sailors of the command. They will benefit the most.
- Take your junior officers, Chiefs, and Sailors to lunch or simply go have lunch with them in their mess. Everyone will learn a lot, especially you.
- Invite your key command leaders to your home for a social event so they can see how it’s done. Juniors need to see how their seniors do this. It’s part of the learning process.
- Share information with your department heads. It is astounding how much information a commanding officer is exposed to and that is not shared with the department heads. Distributed information is enormously powerful. Your department heads can keep a secret if there is a requirement for secrecy. Trust them.
- Don’t play favorites with members of the wardroom. It hurts the wardroom and it hurts you.
- Focus your calendar on the command ‘s mission. Ceremonial events and public relations are important, but your time should be spent on those areas the commanding officer can directly influence for the greatest benefit to the command’s mission.
From my January 2007 PROCEEDINGS magazine article “360-Degree Feedback: Can We Handle the Truth?” You can subscribe to PROCEEDINGS (the professional journal of the U.S. Navy) HERE.