Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Mike Stevens discuss leadership in the latest chapter of “Conversation with a Shipmate.”
During a trip to the Pacific Northwest region the two leaders sat for an interview with Mass Communication Specialist Second Class Fred Gray to talk about an essential aspect of military service.
“For well over the two hundred years of this great Navy of ours somebody has to lead, has to define the reality to people, their reality and why they are doing what they are doing and what the mission is,” said Greenert.
Leadership is the foundation of the Navy and its heritage, Greenert added.
During the interview Greenert made two main points about leadership, integrity and character. He said integrity is the foundation of leadership and Sailors have to believe and trust each other. Number two, leaders must have character with a foundation of good ethical behavior. And MCPON highlighted during the interview the need to develop leaders calling it his number one priority.
“If we hope to continue to get better as a Navy,” said Stevens, “we have a responsibility to always seek ways to improve leadership and leadership opportunities.”
Greenert and Stevens gave the interview Aug. 6, the day after the FY2015 Chief Petty Officer advancement list came out. They welcomed the opportunity to discuss senior enlisted leadership development.
Speaking on the controversy surrounding the changes made to the Chief’s training process with the inception of CPO365; MCPON thanked the world-wide Chief’s mess for implementing the program so effectively.
“I never asked it to be easy, I want it to be hard, testing and challenging,” said Stevens. “I believe we can accomplish that while also treating one another with the dignity and respect I often talk about.”
Greenert recalled three Chief Petty Officers he has encountered in his over 40 years of naval service as instrumental leaders and mentors, as he called them out by name.
“You ask any officer, somebody sat them down at some time and brought them along,” said Greenert. “The CPO Mess takes care of our officer corps, the lead the vast majority of the Navy and directs the work that gets done day in and day out.”
Both leaders stressed the fact that though senior enlisted and officers need to set the moral example, leadership is something that needs to be cultivated throughout every rank in a military member’s career.
“Where there are two Sailors, there will always be at least one leader,” said Stevens. “So to me leadership has no rank. Leadership is something that everyone is responsible for, and must embrace.”
“I need our E-1s and O-1s to understand the foundational pieces, number one integrity. They have to understand integrity and understand the basics,” said Greenert who went on to highlight the importance of integrity, trust and good character in the Navy when people are watching and not watching. “You can’t go to sea, with 200 to 300 people and not have trust in them,” he said.
Revitalizing incremental leadership such as the Perry Officer leadership and the Senior Enlisted Academy requirements has been a priority for both Greenert and Stevens during their tenures as the top Navy leaders.
Lastly, both leaders answered the question, ‘are leaders born or bred?’
“You take someone who can communicate and you give them a foundation of character, understanding of integrity, teach them the importance of a professional skill and you’ve got a nice mixture of a great leader,” said Greenert.