LIGHT Leadership Institute


Robert Warner

1. Background.  It is my firm conviction the officers and men of the U.S. Navy will always do an outstanding job if they understand what is expected of them.  A considerable amount of necessary guidance has been promulgated by higher authority.  It is readily available onboard and it is expected you will be familiar with these rules, regulations and policies as well as ensuring their proper dissemination to your men.

2. Objectives.  The following are my objectives during my tenure in command:     

a. To be ready to fight the ship in defense of the United States and our national interest.     

b. To maintain personnel in the highest state of training.     

c. To employ tactical procedures which best utilizes the capabilities of HERCULES.     

d. To maintain HERCULES in the highest material condition.     

e. To organize personnel and distribute the workload, so each officer, Chief Petty Officer and man in HERCULES will understand his responsibility for his share of the load, accountability in relation to his assigned tasks and will realize the importance of his contribution to the accomplishment of the mission of the ship.     

f. To give maximum consideration to the morale and welfare of each man onboard consistent with our assignments and by creation of a positive command climate achieve the retention of all qualified officers and men.     

g. To derive personal satisfaction in a job well done and enjoy ourselves while accomplishing these objectives.     

h. To contribute to individual advancement and professional and personal development of each individual in the crew.     

i. To promote the morale, well-being and self-sufficiency of our families so neither they nor we need be disquieted during our time away from home.

3. General Philosophy.

     a. Responsibility. We bear an awesome responsibility in this crew.  The value of material entrusted to us can be estimated in the millions of dollars while the destructive capability of our weapons systems and the value of the lives on board are beyond calculation.  This responsibility is shared by each individual serving on board.  Responsibility can and must be shared.  However, when responsibility is delegated to a subordinate, the senior must understand his own responsibility for the matters remains undiminished.  The subordinate becomes responsible for doing a certain job.  The senior retains his responsibility for seeing the job is done properly.  Our successes and our failures will be due in large measure to how well each individual onboard  understands what his responsibilities are and how deep he feels a personal commitment to discharge those responsibilities to the limit of his ability.

     b. Trust. Trust is an attitude of confidence growing out of mutual understanding and respect.  It is a quality in personal relationships we must develop and nourish continually.  However, trust must not become an impediment to follow-up and follow­ through.  When a man feels his senior shows lack of trust because the senior keeps himself informed on how an assigned task is being accomplished, that man does not understand the meaning of responsibility.  The senior exhibits trust when he assigns the job to an individual.  He is meeting his own responsibility when he keeps himself informed of the task and takes whatever action he judges necessary to ensure correct results.  Each individual must understand the trust and discharge of responsibility by following-up and following-through are not interchangeable.  Both are necessary.

     c. Leadership. The word "leadership" is often misunderstood.  There is a tendency to think of leadership as something only officers and senior petty officers must think of occasionally.  Nothing could be more wrong.  Every man on this ship is a leader, and every man is in training for a position of more responsible leadership.  It follows our leadership is the sum total of everything we do and the way we do it.  But it must be understood no man becomes a good leader if he is not first a great follower.  Great followers become good leaders by setting a constant example for those they lead.  A few characteristics of a great follower are:

     (1)  Knows his job and how it contributes to the accomplishment of the ship's mission.

     (2)  Exercises initiative commensurate with his knowledge, authority and abilities.

     (3)  Readily accepts delegated authority and responsibility.

     (4)  Accepts the decisions of the leader, makes them his own, and wholeheartedly does his best to implement these decisions.

     (5)  Has faith in his own subordinates; no man who habitually mistrusts or looks down upon his men ever achieves success as a leader.

One final thought on leadership; we manage schedules, problems, preparation for inspections, etc.; people, we lead.  If pride is the stepping stone to high morale, then the best way to ensure the deterioration of both in a ship's company is to suggest, through our words or actions, our people are being managed rather than led.

     d. Forehandedness.  Looking ahead to what is coming up next is a habit which discriminates "action from reaction".  It does not require an extraordinary intellect to be aware of what is planned for the near future, and to think of what must be done to be prepared.  The man who fails to cultivate this habit will invariably fall short of the quality of performance he is capable of producing, and so will his ship.  Our goal must be f or each individual to do his own thinking ahead, planning and preparing. our combined efforts in anticipating and "proper prior planning" will ensure HERCULES retains her reputation as a top ship with a smart crew.

     e. Learning.  Visit other ships frequently and take a few minutes to see how they do various things.  We are not smart enough to come up with all the good ideas, so use those of others.  In the Navy there is no room f or pride of authorship.  Invite others down and ask for their critical comments and offer your own ideas. We should likewise learn from our own experiences.  Take time to critique evolutions with key players and identify lessons learned     - both good and bad.

     f. Subordinate Development.  One of our most important duties is to train and develop our subordinate personnel not only as our replacements but to ensure an ongoing smooth transition within the Navy throughout the years.  No one person must become indispensable.  We must ensure our subordinates are not simply trained to act as we would direct them, but to think creatively in the face of problems.  There is rarely just one solution to any problem.

     g. Priorities. We cannot afford to neglect any of the procedures and programs devised to maintain the ship and her personnel ready for war.  But none of us can give equal attention to everything all the time, and we must know how to put first things first ' Good judgment and flexibility are required to arrange the priority of our efforts to meet the demands of the ship's operating schedule.  Again, we will keep a smart ship only if each individual constantly exercises forehandedness and good judgment.

     h. Discipline.  While discipline has many definitions, the one used on board HERCULES is self-discipline; for among responsible, mature, motivated individuals there rarely should be a need for any other kind.  The most valuable lesson we learn is the ability to make yourself do the job you have to do, when vou have to do it, whether you like it or not.

     i. Loyalty.  Fierce loyalty best describes the characteristic I desire, both up and down the chain of command.  I will do my very best for you and I feel justified in asking you to do no less for me and for each other.

    j.  Problems on the ship. We will have problems.  Whether they be large or small they will be no one's business but our own, so keep them on the ship.  Small unfavorable details related to wives, buddies, cocktail parties, etc. may be minor to start with, but after a few word-of-mouth translations may appear to the community the ship is ready to sink and no one on board knows how to wind his watch.  If it doesn't reflect favorably on HERCULES or her personnel, collectively or individually, don't sav it to anyone off the ship.  If a story reflects favorable on our ship or any individual aboard, tell it to anyone who will listen.  During inspections we all have a responsibility to put our best foot forward; to show our programs to our best advantage.  Go out of your way, if you must, to impress the inspector with our high degree of readiness in your area of responsibility.  This is easy if we are ready.  If we are not ready - do not try to hide actual conditions but rather relate them in a professional manner.  Internal problems should normally be handled via the chain of command.  Back up lines of communication exist with the Command Chief, special request chits, Captains Call, etc.

4. Policies.

     a. Executive Officer.  There should be no doubt in any mind regarding the responsibility and authority of the Executive officer.  You will direct the administration of the ship ensuring the results measure up to the most exacting standards.  You have my complete backing.  The Planning Board for Training should be utilized as the forum for establishing the routines and internal schedules of the ship.  I will do everything in my power to ensure you are ready to assume command of your own ship or HERCULES should the need arise.

     b. Department Heads.  Do not be satisfied with anything less than outstanding performance from every man in your department.  Be an effective manager and leader.  Organize effectively and above all use your Division Officers.  You have direct access to me regarding all departmental matters and I expect you to keep the Executive Officer informed.  When you report problems also report what is being done and your estimate of when the discrepancy will be corrected.  For each problem I expect your recommended solution or course of action.  Remember, you run your department and are responsible for it.

     c. Division Officers.  Learn your lob, know your equipment in detail, ask questions and know your men.  Keep your Department Head and Chief Petty Officer informed.  The interface between manager and technician starts at your level and is absolutely critical to the smooth functioning of the ship and its systems.  Listen to the counsel of an experienced Chief but make decisions considering his input, vour own common sense and guidance received from seniors.  Line Officers will establish achievement of designation as Surface Warfare Officer as a goal for the first 24 months of sea duty.  Qualification as Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) should be an objective during the first 36 months of sea duty.

      d.  Chief Petty Officers.  Know your job, know your equipment, know your men and provide experienced counsel to your Division Officer.  Your investment in the Navy in showing a first tour officer the correct procedures, the positive leadership techniques and the established administrative tools of the trade means you are also training POI subordinate to you and it will reap immeasurable benefits for all concerned.  Be forceful in maintaining open and effective communications up and down the chain of command.  Be positive in dealing with seniors and juniors alike; nothing breaks down mutual respect through the chain of command faster than dissension or disloyalty.  Recognize the critical role you play in the managerial - technical interface and as a role model for Petty officers and non-rated personnel.  Achieving designation as Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) should be a primary goal if not already attained.  Qualification as Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) should be an objective for all engineering ratings.

     e. Petty Officers.  All Petty Officers should have the responsibility and authority commensurate with their rate.  Achieving designation as Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) should be a primary goal if not already attained.  Qualification as Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) should be an objective for all engineering ratings.

     f. Directives. Applicable directives either originate on board or by higher authority will receive meticulous compliance.  If you detect errors in directives, initiate official action to have them changed.  I am a strong believer in "going by the book" - f or many reasons.  The most important is we cannot possibly afford to make the mistakes that prompted the issuance of many of the directives.  Also, we do not have the time or manpower to derive for ourselves the procedures and knowledge already recorded.  We do have the time and manpower to consult such recorded information and benefit from it.  Know where to find it ­consult it - use it.  There is no one harder to win an argument from or make a point to than the man with references.  This does not mean that ordinary common sense has been replaced.  If you have a better idea, get it on paper so we can share it.  I will not hesitate to forward your good ideas up the chain of command.

     g. Communicating with the CO.  When given a task to accomplish, report its accomplishment.  If unexpected delays are encountered, make a situation report.  Please consider my requests as orders and maintain your own tickler system for ensuring their accomplishment.  If you don't know the answer to any of my queries, don't guess.  Say you don't know and find out.  Being right is mandatory in Surface Warfare - our lives depend on it.  Do not assume.  If you are giving me an option or an estimate, ensure it is so identified.  If you do not understand my desires or views on a subject keep asking questions until vou do. if, however, my desire are for you to solve a problem, please do  not expect my solution prior to your answer.  If I should indicate a special interest in some problem you may have, do not presume I have taken over the problem and will solve it for you.  I may on occasion offer possibilities for solving problems but this does not mean you may not have a better method.

     h. Communication.  The personal and individual aspects of responsibility, leadership, trust, forehandedness and good judgment are summarized above.  Communication is the means by which individuals contribute these qualities to the common effort.  We must have a free and timely exchange of information and ideas.  Every man needs to know what is happening, and, insofar as we can discern, what is going to happen.  Each officer and petty officer must keep his subordinates informed of his plans, needs and intentions.  Each individual must keep his seniors informed of his efforts, his problems and his needs.  Ideas, suggestions and reasoned complaints must pass freely and immediately to the individual responsible for taking action.  If a problem does arise, either professional or personal, a solution cannot be achieved if the chain of command is not informed.

     i. Relations with the staff, MLSG, and Shipyard Personnel. We will get more money everywhere we go if we operate in an atmosphere of mutual respect and goodwill.  This will result from our taking the time and trouble to know something about the people with whom we deal.  Understand the man, his job, his capabilities and limitations; help him want to do the best job he is capable of for HERCULES.  Achieving this is an all hands job! The ship will lose something anytime one of her officers or men is arrogant, discourteous or hostile when dealing with others.  Don't let this happen to you; don't tolerate it in your subordinates.  Whenever a disagreement cannot be resolved amicably and satisfactorily, it should be referred up the chain of command.

     j. Relations with other PHM'S.  A very important facet of our crew effectiveness is our relationship with other PHM crews.  They are, in the truest sense, our "comrades in arms".  This relationship will frequently require a close exchange of information and a high degree of mutual trust and confidence.  The exchange of information between crews must continue on a close personal basis at all echelons in order to achieve our mission objectives.

    k. Attendance at the Quarterdeck.  The Command Duty Officer is to meet me at the quarterdeck at my final departure for the day. While I may be living aboard ship, the CDO is not required to be at the Quarterdeck for my movements after normal working hours.  The topside ICK speaker will be used to announce my arrival/departure.  Department Heads are to brief me dailv on the status of work in progress, training efforts, key events planned and other significant matters under their cognizance.

     1. Inspections. I will conduct inspections at such intervals as considered necessary to maintain the highest personnel and material standards.  All officers should make a complete tour of their particular spaces at least once each day and to take action to correct any unsatisfactory conditions found.  Division Officers and Chief Petty Officers are expected to inspect the berthing/washroom areas assigned to their men daily prior to the XO's inspection and to tour each of their work centers and spaces once each day.

     m. Appreciation of the American Bluejacket.  Often the American public does not appreciate capabilities, the responsibilities and hard work of the Navyman.  They see us (or a small percent) living it up on liberty and conclude this is our life.  At every opportunity, especially when showing people through the ship, make it a point to emphasize the competence and responsibility of our sailors.

     n. Respectful Atmosphere.  A warship is a very close community and there are frequently people of all ranks and rates within audible range of the closest conversation.  It is my sincere desire officers, in their everyday business, be particularly careful their language reflects their everyday respect for each other and for the crew.  The liberal use of the word "sir" and an occasional "Mister" does wonders for setting the proper atmosphere.  If private matters must be discussed, do so out of earshot.  It is inexcusable for officers to discuss Wardroom personalities with the crew - even with Chiefs.  I Will not tolerate it.  Correction must be made, however and may be required on the spot.  These corrections should be in the form of proper military orders or instructions, not degrading insults.  Anyone not capable of making such correction should seek another line of work.  I consider this equally applicable to a seaman apprentice as to a commissioned officer.  Always praise in public, censure in private and treat your people with dignity.

    o. Deficiencies.  Let no deficiency go undocumented or uncorrected.  This includes material,    administrative and operational.  An overlooked deficiency  quickly  becomes  "normal" and accepted. Never accept the response "it has always  been  that way.

     p. Appearance of the Topside Area.  Ensure Quarterdeck watchstanders, Quarterdeck area, the pier, the brow area and all access routes present the sharpest possible military appearance.  Keep tools out of sight when not in use, and strike stores and spares  below  immediately  upon  receipt. I consider this particularly important because it is the only impression many people may have of the ship.  The Officer of the Deck, in appearance and professionalism, reflect the tone of the command.  Such routines as colors and passing honors will be executed smartly, on time and in a military manner.  Control of access to the ship must be absolute.

     q. Cleanliness and Neatness.  To be efficient and happy, a ship must be clean.  To be safe, a warship must be neat, i.e. stowed.  If you note deficiencies on your tours through the ship, find a petty officer and get it squared away - immediately.  Keep officer's country neat.  Good habits start at the top.

     r. Administrative Practices.  A successful officer or Chief Petty Officer must learn to be a thorough and efficient manager.  Your paperwork should work for you - not vice versa.  Division officers notebooks, tickler files/notebooks, PMS charts, PQS progress charts, retention interviews, the Long Range Training Plan, training records, CSMP and EDL notebooks are proven administrative tools.  Use them correctly and everyone will see the difference between HERCULES and a middle of the pack ship.

     s. Material Status.  We have the awesome responsibility for a warship whose dollar value equals the assets of a major corporation.  We have intelligent young men to run her, and adequate funds to purchase from a supply system unequaled in the world.  With such resources my policy is to keep all equipment operating at peak efficiency.  If something breaks - f ix it now! I will not hesitate to inform seniors via CASREP and UNITREP our material condition.

     t. Maintenance. Conservation of our manpower assets dictates repairs be effectively completed the first time.  Following the basic elements of good maintenance will ensure the attainment of quality work affected in a timely manner:

   -  Understand the Planned Maintenance System (PMS).

   -  Adequately prepare and plan the work.

   -  Use qualified personnel and take advantage of training opportunities.

   -  Review and use established procedures.

   -  Use authorized/proper tools.

   -  Obtain adequate shift to shift turnover.

   -  Have a realistic schedule.

   -  Provide work control and quality assurance.

     u. Watchstanding.  Evolutions on the ship should be carried out in a calm, quiet manner.  Yelling and cursing will not be tolerated.  Teach - don't threaten; lead - don't bully.  Use clear, concise orders to the watch.  Formality in this matter will lead to less repeats, less mistakes, a clearer understanding of what is desired, and a more seaman-like atmosphere on board. officers on watch on the Bridge and EOS will be addressed by rank or watchstation by juniors and seniors alike.


5. Good Order and Discipline.     

a. Uniforms.  Unless directly involved in work that is likely to damage a good uniform, a clean, sharp uniform and personal appearance is mandatory.  Insist everyone on board lives up to this standard.  When going ashore I expect all hands to be tastefully dressed.     

b. Discipline. Administration, correction and counseling are the prerogatives of the officers, Chief Petty Officers and Petty Officers in the chain of command.  EMI may be assigned by Chief Petty Officers and senior.  The withholding of special privileges is assigned as a prerogative of the Executive Officer.  The assignment of any punishment is my prerogative.  The request on the part of any individual to see the highest in the chain of command will not be aborted in any way.     

c. Planning.  The primary difference between a smart organization and a satisfactory organization lies in the amount of FORETHOUGHT and PLANNING undertaken for known future events. I expect you to explore the idea of future planning to the greatest extent possible in every phase of shipboard life.  In general, planning is not productive unless it is committed to paper, at least in outline form and communicated.  Poor planning results in failure to arrive at scheduled points on time, failure to come up on scheduled circuits, failure to have standby equipment available, inefficient utilization of available manpower, humiliation, frustration and eventually danger.  Cultivate the habit of asking yourself, "what will I be required to do next watch, tomorrow, next week, next month - and what must I read, provide, requisition, learn or teach in order to do the job most successfully!" A man without long range plans and goals will never know the feeling of success that comes from having done a tough job well.     

d. Drugs and Alcohol.  I wish each of us could consider life itself as a natural high.  There is no social argument or lesson here - drug use is simply illegal and will not be tolerated. Alcohol abuse will be dealt with in a straight forward manner.  Every man will be held accountable for his actions in every circumstance.

6. Conclusion. I recognize the magnitude of each of your jobs. Without your hard (smart) work, perseverance, and dedication we will not be able to carry out our mission in the best possible manner.  Some final thoughts: - Do the job right the first time - every time.- Avoid giving the impression praise is the absence of criticism.- The real world is a "come as you are" show.

LIGHT Leadership Institute
Leader's Integrated Guide to Higher Thinking

Powered by