The other day I had a conversation with Rear Admiral Dave Crocker, an old Executive Officer of mine, and by old I mean from a long time ago before he made Admiral (but for the record he is older than me too, so…), and we began to discuss leadership.
It is one of his favorite topics, and by coincidence one of mine too. He has written several thoughtful articles on the subject and one of his preferred pieces has to do with what he calls the power of your presence.
In other words, you should never underestimate the influence you have on the people around you if you are in a leadership position. How you act affects everyone.
If a Commanding Officer arrives to work in a grumpy mood, by noon the entire command will be grumpy too. If he or she comes in upbeat and ready to take on the world, so will the Sailors.
I have seen lots of good leaders because the good ones are the ones who get out and about. The others, the ones who stay in their offices (the ivory towers) and try to lead remotely are the ones who inevitably have problems managing their responsibilities.
Leadership cannot be done by email.
It requires full immersion. There are certainly many ways to describe the style, but in the military we know it as leadership by walking around.
When you think about it, it all boils down to respect. Those in charge must understand the skills and talent of those they lead. In return, they can expect respect for the difficult decisions they face every day.
I watched Admiral Crocker in action, and he lived up to his words. He knew when to motivate, when to stay back and let people do their jobs, and when to inject just the right amount of trepidation in young men or women who needed to refocus. When it is done right, good leadership results in a motivated, productive command and a happy crew.
As far as I know.