10 December 2010

Practices of Successful Commands - Part Three

Team,

Over the past year, my Fleet Master Chief and I have spent considerable time visiting units at the waterfront and throughout the Fleet to hear directly from our Sailors and our leadership teams. As we talked about our visits and compared notes, we noticed that there were certain characteristics present in each of the “stand out” commands that we visited and so we released the message “Practices of Successful Commands” to get the word out about what those prominent commands were doing that made them stand out so positively above the rest.
A few months later, I released a follow-up message “Practices of Successful Commands Part II” and asked that you give a good “spin” to a few of the programs that I felt needed some extra attention to keep them on track.
This past week, FLTCM Stevens and I released a third message “Practices of Successful Commands Part III” that gets at the heart of what I believe is the foundation of mission success – Trust. Fleet Stevens and I routinely see that the stand-out commands in our AOR are those that focus on meaningful contact with their Sailors at every opportunity. These contacts, be they at routine events such as morning quarters or engagements by officers and CPOs out and about on the deckplates, where candid, meaningful and two-way conversation with Sailors can take place, are where trust is built.
You can follow the link above, or see the full message below. Give it a good read when you have a moment and tell me what you think…I believe the message should resonate with our Civilians just as much as our Sailors.
All the best, JCHjr


P 071730Z DEC 10 ZYB PSN 889326K36
FM COMUSFLTFORCOM NORFOLK VA//N00//
TO ALFLTFORCOM
INFO COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI//N00//
CNO WASHINGTON DC//N1//
BT
UNCLAS PERSONAL FOR COMMANDERS, COMMANDING OFFICERS, OFFICERS IN CHARGE, AND COMMAND MASTER CHIEFS FROM ADM HARVEY AND FLTCM STEVENS//
MSGID/GENADMIN/COMUSFLTFORCOM NORFOLK VA//
SUBJ/PRACTICES OF SUCCESSFUL COMMANDS - PART THREE//
REF/A/MSGID:MSG/101617ZFEB10/-//
REF/B/MSGID:MSG/252132ZJUN10/-//
NARR/REF A IS PRACTICES OF SUCCESSFUL COMMANDS. REF B IS
PRACTICES OF SUCCESSFUL COMMANDS PART TWO.//
GENTEXT/REMARKS/
1. OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, WE HAVE SPENT A GREAT DEAL OF TIME AND EFFORT TO IMPROVE OUR NAVY'S ABILITY TO CARRY OUT OUR MISSIONS IN EACH OF THE PRIMARY WARFIGHTING DOMAINS - ON AND UNDER THE SEA, IN THE AIR, ON THE GROUND AND IN CYBERSPACE. THE FOUNDATION FOR OPERATIONAL SUCCESS IN EACH OF THESE DOMAINS IS OUR ABILITY TO LEAD OUR SAILORS, TO GAIN AND HOLD THEIR TRUST, TO DELIVER OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEIR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, AND TO GIVE THEM THE TOOLS, TRAINING AND TIME REQUIRED TO PERFORM THEIR ASSIGNED TASKS. IN SHORT, WE MUST FIRST SUCCEED IN THE HUMAN DOMAIN BEFORE WE CAN EVER SUCCEED IN OUR WARFIGHTING DOMAINS.

2. ACHIEVING THIS SUCCESS WITH OUR SAILORS IN THE HUMAN DOMAIN IS NOT AN EASY TASK; INDEED IT SEEMS TO GROW MORE CHALLENGING OVER TIME. THE PACE OF OUR OPERATIONS HAS BEEN STEADILY INCREASING SINCE 9/11 AND SHOWS NO SIGN OF SLACKING OFF. THE TRENDS IN GLOBAL DISORDER THAT PRESENT A VARIETY OF CHALLENGES TO THE FREE AND UNTRAMMELED USE OF THE MARITIME DOMAIN ARE INCREASING, AND IT APPEARS WE ARE ABOUT TO ENTER A PERIOD OF CONSTRAINED RESOURCES WHILE THE DEMAND FOR WHAT THE NAVY CAN DELIVER FOR OUR NATION'S SECURITY WILL CONTINUE TO GROW. A DAUNTING SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES, TO BE SURE, BUT NONETHELESS A SITUATION WE HAVE FACED, AND OVERCOME, BEFORE.

3. MISSION SUCCESS - WHETHER WITH OUR SHIPS, OUR SUBMARINES, OUR AVIATION SQUADRONS, OUR EXPEDITIONARY UNITS, OR OUR CYBER FORCES - HAS BEEN, IS TODAY AND WILL BE DEPENDENT ON OUR COMMANDERS AND THE SAILORS THEY LEAD OPERATING TO THE LIMITS OF THEIR AUTHORITY IN A DECENTRALIZED COMMAND AND CONTROL STRUCTURE BUILT ON TRUST. WITHOUT TRUST, WE CANNOT DELEGATE AUTHORITY. WITHOUT AUTHORITY, WE CANNOT FULFILL OUR RESPONSIBILITIES. WITHOUT THE DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY, WE CANNOT OPERATE AS A NAVY.

4. SO IT IS THAT TRUST IS THE FUNDAMENTAL BUILDING BLOCK OF OUR COMMAND AND CONTROL STRUCTURE AND OUR ABILITY TO ACHIEVE MISSION SUCCESS. AND TRUST IS BUILT THROUGH HUMAN CONTACT, THROUGH MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT AT EVERY LEVEL OF THE HUMAN DOMAIN. FLEET STEVENS AND I ROUTINELY SEE THAT THE STAND-OUT COMMANDS IN OUR AOR ARE THOSE THAT FOCUS ON MEANINGFUL CONTACT WITH THEIR SAILORS AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY. THESE CONTACTS, BE THEY AT ROUTINE EVENTS SUCH AS MORNING QUARTERS OR ENGAGEMENTS BY OFFICERS AND CPOS OUT AND ABOUT ON THE DECKPLATES, WHERE CANDID, MEANINGFUL AND TWO-WAY CONVERSATION WITH SAILORS CAN TAKE PLACE, ARE WHERE TRUST IS BUILT. TOO OFTEN WE SEE COMMAND COMMUNICATIONS DEVOLVE TO IMPERSONAL, AND VERY IMPERFECT, FORMS OF CONTACT, DEVOID OF THE CONTEXT THAT CAN ONLY COME FROM FACE-TO-FACE COMMUNICATIONS. ALWAYS BE ON THE LOOK-OUT FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO LOOK YOUR SAILORS IN THE EYE AND ENGAGE THEM ON THE ISSUES IMPORTANT TO YOU AND TO THEM. ALWAYS BE READY FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD TRUST WITH THOSE YOU LEAD.

5. ANOTHER COMMON DENOMINATOR THAT WE HAVE FOUND AT SUCCESSFUL COMMANDS IS A COMMANDER AND COMMAND TEAM THAT HOLDS THEMSELVES, AND THEIR SAILORS, ACCOUNTABLE TO ESTABLISHED STANDARDS AS THEY FULFILL THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES. HUMAN CONTACT BUILDS TRUST, ACCOUNTABILITY SUSTAINS TRUST. WHEN TRUST AND ACCOUNTABILITY ARE INSTITUTIONALIZED IN THE ROUTINE OF A COMMAND, THE RESULT IS LONG-TERM SUCCESS. WHEN ACCOUNTABILITY IS NOT ENFORCED, THE COMMAND AND CONTROL STRUCTURE, WHICH IS HELD TOGETHER BY TRUST, FALLS APART AND THE COMMAND EVENTUALLY FAILS.

6. AS THE FLEET MASTER CHIEF AND I VISIT THE WATERFRONT TO MAKE REGULAR EYE-TO-EYE CONTACT WITH YOU, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU TELL US ABOUT THE CHALLENGES YOU ARE FACING IN FULFILLING YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES TO US. OUR RESPONSIBILITY IS TO SET THE CONDITIONS FOR YOUR SUCCESS, BUT NOT TO MAKE YOU SUCCESSFUL - THAT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. OUR NATION HAS PLACED A GREAT DEAL OF TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN EACH OF US, SO WE EACH HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO GIVE NOTHING BUT OUR VERY BEST IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OUR DUTIES.

7. ADMIRAL J. C. HARVEY JR., COMMANDER, U.S. FLEET FORCES AND FLTCM (AW/NAC) MIKE STEVENS, SEND.//
BT
#9295
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4 comments:

Captain - Special Duty Cryptology said...

This is an excellent continuation of the Navy's attention to Command Excellence which began in 1976 and continues today. Command Excellence is part of the deskload at the PCO/PXO course. The key elements of command excellence remain timeless. Those who embrace those command excellence tenets will find success comes easily and naturally. Those who ignore them, do so at their own peril. It's nice to see CFFC focus on command excellence. Admiral, I hope you found the Command Excellence materials that I FEDEX'd you to be useful.

NVYGUNZ said...

ADM,

Very well said! I particularly like that fact that you point out trust and accountability. I personally have extended and honed my trust using capabilities over the last couple of years. Thought I was extending it properly all along, but after I read a book on trust, I shortly found I wasn't quite using it properly and have been correcting ever since.

In his book “The Speed of Trust”, Stephen M. R. Covey states many leaders don’t know how to extend proper trust. They delegate tasks without parameters or extend fake trust, but they don’t fully entrust people with stewardships that engages genuine ownership and accountability. Further, they do not know at what levels to extend their trust. Also, it is not necessary to extend trust automatically or exclusively. You can extend limited trust or no trust at all. The decision is yours, but the approach and acceptance of risk always builds trust, whether you are a leader or a parent.

"The Speed of Trust" is one of my Top 5 reads, and one I recommend to those who work with/for me now. It has helped shape my leadership style and I hope it will do the same for them.

Lastly, as we become more senior, we can't be everywhere. A lot of us even lead Sailor that are thousands of miles away. Trust is a huge component to that leadership. Along with it comes the accountability and ultimately the results - which we will all be measured by.

V/R,

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr USN said...

Captain (Special Duty Cryptology), I did indeed find the material you sent me useful. I remember the packages when they first came out and was very glad to receive them from you. And you're absolutely right, the key elements of command excellence are timeless.

NVYGUNZ, I've read "The Speed of Trust" and found it to be quite useful, with more in it than first meets the eye. You've summarized the key principles of the book quite nicely, too.

Thanks very much for the feedback - I appreciate the time you took to write and help keep me in touch.

All the best and Merry Christmas, JCHjr

Anonymous said...

Sir,
In keeping with your Serial 005 and the message inherent in the Practices of Best Commands series: I think these are apt and necessary messages to help sailors better articulate what they would like and expect to see from their leaders and peers alike.
It is important to define the metric we should live by and to generate the trust between the ranks as much as possible given the constraints we all live in now (war, culture changes, and the economy). By the way the public scrutinizes our every move it is becoming more apparent than ever that failure to lead by example is in fact a punishable offense. I find this more inspiring than not as it is not always apparent that something is culturally ‘right ‘or ‘wrong’ until it is made glaringly obvious to everyone through example. It is hard to ask junior and senior sailors to live by the Navy’s core principles when leaders are not held to those same standards.
The challenge to maintaining the high personal standards expected among all the ranks today stems more from a deeper root than touched upon by either local papers or the serials I believe. I think a loss of tacticians and experts in critical fields has been an accepted standard of attrition in the Navy as ‘not everyone’ is meant to make this hard life a career. I think we lose more people to bureaucracy than to anything else because of the failed evaluation process we are forced to use for promotion of our sailors.
Sailors see opportunists, politicians, and mediocre peers elevated constantly when the ‘blue collar’ efforts they make towards the mission are at more often unrewarded than if they did half the work but had more ‘face time’ with the members of their ranking boards. Nothing says more about the future career of a sailor than their Eval and Fitrep. Keeping that in mind it is not a shocking discovery to hear from sailors as their primary concern that no one seems to know or appreciates how hard they work each day. Besides a random and shortened bullet in an occasional Eval you would never know the efforts a sailor makes in and out of the Navy towards the mission and community.
A recent article in the ‘The Atlantic’ highlighted the problem the Army faces today with a loss of skilled and competent soldiers to a culture of mediocrity that they are having a terrible time combating. The article can be translated easily to what we see especially in the Navy today across all the ranks and why you have trouble keeping your junior and senior sailors inspired to work diligently towards the mission when the leadership measures their efforts with a broken and imperfect system. I have listed the link to the article below and hope that this generates some conversation here as I have some solutions to offer but want to hear if I am out of synch with majority opinion in this critical topic. Pending further discussion I leave this opinion open ended with more to come.
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/why-our-best-officers-are-leaving/8346/#