Monday, June 17, 2013

Notes from SLA - 2013 - Leadership: A Commander's Viewpoint

Presented by Captain Winston Smith, USN, Commander Naval Base San Diego
SLA Conference, San Diego Convention Center
June 10, 2013, 10:00 AM (PDT)
Capt. Smith provided an overview of his assignments and deployments and said that Resiliency is his middle name.
Training manuals are the research tool used in the military
It is important to reflect and know who you are.
What is your psychological driver?  What makes you tick?  What is important to you?
Is it career?  Is it family?  Is it something else?
Millennial Myth – Capt. Smith finds that many of his younger sailors approach life by thinking;
If I have (this car, this job, a million dollars), I could do what I want and be happy.
Have – do – be
Capt. Smith says turn the equation around to Be – do – have
Be the person you want to be.  Do the things that align with who you are. And, you will have the life you want.
Keys to understanding:
  • Identity – sense of self – ID your strengths and weaknesses.  What is your psychological driver?  The Meyers-Briggs exam is a good tool for understanding how we interact with others.  It is from this personal vision that we develop our command vision.
  • Purpose – why do I exist?
  • Values – what motivates me?
Capt. Smith spends 1/3 of his time visiting the ships at the navy base, 1/3 of his time meeting with the tenants and other commands on the base, and 1/3 of his time outside the fence – engaging with the local communities.
Capt. Smith recommended two books that are good for leaders:
Lead by example:
  •  Listen aggressively – Don’t jump to solving the problem.  Let the person finish talking. Learn to under-react to bad news.
  • Be decisive & consistent – People like predictability.  Be active, don’t wait to react. Take a deterministic approach.  Never shy away from your core competencies.
  • Take calculated risks – If there is a problem, enlarge it by bringing in more people to work on the solution.  Invite the usual suspects, but bring in someone different who may have a different perspective.  Think ahead.  Someone in your organization needs to be looking 6-12 months down the road.
  • Do your best – Set high standards.  Sprout where you are planted.
  • Honesty, Integrity, Trust – Honor above self.  Only I can surrender my integrity.  No one can take it from me.
Build a Team:
  • A leader must make employees…
  • Feel respected and useful – make the rounds, visit out-of-sight areas.  Connect what people do to the mission.  Take care of the staff.  How do my decisions impact the team?  Don’t confuse motion with action.  Find what people do well and help them succeed.  Then build on that success by helping them in areas that are not their strengths.
  • Exercise ownership – don’t walk past a problem.  Be responsible for your space and people.  Visit the staff.
  • Value “Team Wins” – accomplishing the mission is what is important.  Think the ship first, then shipmates, and then self.  Establish a process whereby the leader can leave and the organization will continue.  Promote and encourage those who support the team.
  • Create a Climate of Trust – read The Speed of Trust.  Build up people in public.  Give people rubber balls and as they learn to handle more, give them a glass ball to work with.
  • Improve Quality of life for your staff.  This isn’t always about greater pay or leave.  Give staff flexibility.  Let them telework or adjust their commute so they can get home and spend time with their families.  Problems happen – just don’t keep secrets.
Build a Game Plan: Look for efficiencies.
  •  Plan with key players… teach everyone else
  • Communicate Purpose & Meaning – Have standards.  Teach it, train it, enforce it!  Manage expectations.  Put out the full calendar – let everyone see what is coming down the pike.
  • Organize before you try to accelerate…if not, you lose field position.  Keep people informed.  Staff will respect a tough call if it is well planned.  They can see through a bad plan.
  • Execute, execute, execute
  • Ask questions, stay informed – engaged leaders know what is going on.  By mentoring you can support what the staff is doing.
  • Be observant of key indicators –create the trend lines, don’t just react to poor ones.  Notice when things don’t go wrong.  Notice when the glass is half full.  Indications that things are working as expected.  Self-assessment – have a department assessment plan too.
  • Teach the next generation – put good people on the watch bill training reliefs.  Are people getting the right training?
  • Looking Down -- Shortfalls in how leaders interact with subordinates
  • Looking Up -- Shortfalls in how leaders interact with superiors
  • Looking Across -- Shortfalls in how leaders interact across the organization
  • Looking Within -- Shortfalls in personal moral and ethical behaviors
This talk was co-sponsored by the SLA Leadership and Managemet Division and the Military Libraries Division.

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