Friday, December 7, 2012

How the Navy misses the point on leadership

While browsing across some random articles on, I came across this:

And laughed.

Leadership? Really? This is a ship-driving course, plain and simple. There isn't much leadership here, save for maybe some confidence boost you get from having done a ton of simulators and feeling comfortable giving commands.

How about Big Navy stop trying to teach leadership at the Junior Officer level and do what teaches leadership best...which is to LET JUNIOR OFFICERS LEAD! Admiral Mullen, in an interview with David Letterman ( talks about how he fell in love with command when he commanded a gasoline tanker as a LT. But nowadays, the soonest you can command is...LCDR, on a minesweeper (which isn't exactly viewed as career enhancing).

The Navy continues to remove opportunities at low levels for leadership, and I believe it contributes to the often sophomoric attitude in our current leadership. You can't use silly staff speak when you work directly with a group of first class petty officers...they look at you funny and tell you knock it off. You can't legislate via email with second class petty officers...they demand to see you and know that you care.

And sadly, when you have less small group leadership opportunities, upper level leaders then reach down and try to micromanage, because they haven't had those opportunities themselves. The eventual outcome is that Ensigns and LTJGs are deprived of real leadership, and by the time they become more senior Lieutenants...they're expected to have leadership experiences that they never had the opportunity to get.

The Navy doesn't need more leadership training, it needs more small group leadership opportunities.