Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On chief petty officer leadership

Tuesday, August 17, 2010
by: CDR Glynn Smith

Yesterday, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp had the opportunity to address the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association (CPOA). The CPOA gathers annually to discuss issues affecting the Service and to share leadership experiences. Adm. Papp took the opportunity to offer his thoughts on the role of a chief petty officer in today’s Coast Guard.

“We have wonderful men and women, who are performing heroic deeds on a near daily basis, but they need your leadership, chief petty officer hands-on leadership, to ensure they perform their challenging maritime missions safely, professionally and effectively,” said Papp.

Admiral Papp fully supports the chief petty officer’s role in taking a keen interest in their shipmate’s well being and professional development. Senior leadership look to chiefs to be engaged in the issues of the day and mentor both junior enlisted and officers. He suggested that chiefs should be proactive and approachable for the shipmates they lead.

“So my charge to you today is to assert yourselves, grab the reigns and lead,” Papp said. “You are unique in that you have the ability to influence the largest number of crew members in our Service.”

As an example, Admiral Papp recalled the story of a young ensign who was called into the Chief’s Mess. The assembled chiefs told him that that he could do better and they wanted him to be successful. The chiefs also wanted the junior officer to be comfortable enough to come to the Chief’s Mess and ask for guidance. They knew that if Ensign Papp was successful, their ship would be successful and the Service would be successful.

“That’s foundational chief petty officer leadership; reaching out to junior officers and petty officers when they are headed in the wrong direction,” said Papp, adding, “Your deck plate and hangar deck leadership is vitally important, because you forge your shipmates into leaders.”

Admiral Papp explained to convention attendees that the role of a chief petty officer could not be more critical to Service success than it is today. The Coast Guard has been stretched thin with people on the front lines carrying the load and those standing the watch back home pulling extra duty to cover gaps.

“Chiefs mentor and teach junior officers and petty officers, and thereby inspire and instill leadership values in junior people which place them on a course to success,” Papp said. “As we move forward, your leadership will be critical to their continued success.”

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