Deckplate Leadership Essay Examples

The Advantages Of EmpowermentJanuary 10, 2010

Posted by DPL in Business Management, deckplate leadership, leadership, management, military leadership, Professional Development.
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“It is unspeakable how advantageous it is, that a man should think he has something which he may call his own…”

~Politics, Aristotle

To have a true impact as a leader you must have ownership of your role, your mission, or your work center. You must realize that you have all the authority and power to direct all that goes on in your bubble, or your “sphere of influence”. In order to have ownership, and therefore leadership, you must have both responsibility AND accountability. Without both of these elements together you will find complacency, apathy, and inefficiency.

If you are a leader of leaders, empower them to take ownership of their roles and the development of their subordinates by giving them both responsibility and accountability. Once leaders take on ownership they become empowered to make a difference. They develop their subordinates beyond their subordinates’ own expectations, and they execute the direction of their superiors beyond even their superiors’ expectations.

That’s when the magic happens.

We’ve All Been There…November 27, 2009

Posted by DPL in Advancement Exam, Business, Business Management, deckplate leadership, Humor, Life, military leadership, Professional Development, Values.
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…Well, most of us have. You take in every bit of advice, you work your butt off, and then the selection results for that promotion comes out without your name on the list. It hurts to not be picked for the team. But this is the moment that really shows one’s true colors. This is the moment where you choose to respond through one of two actions:

1) Throw your hands up in the air and say, “Screw this. If I’m not going to be advanced then why work so hard?”


2) Take a deep breath, sleep it off, and come back in the next day with a stronger will to work even harder. And say to yourself, “Everything happens for a reason and in good time. The cream will always rise to the top.”

The trick, you see, is to not ask yourself (or others) what did everyone else do to get that promotion, but to ask yourself “what is it that I’m *not* doing?” There’s always something more that you can do to make yourself more competitive. And if there isn’t, maybe all you needed was another solid year for the board to feel comfortable in selecting you for advancement.

So don’t give up. If you want it, go out there and get it. And if they say “no”, well, keep trying. At the end of the day, all you can do is your best. And we should all be happy knowing we gave it all we had and contributed the best we could.

Hope you all enjoy the video. Happy Thanksgiving!


The 5 Be’s Principle #2: Be CREATIVEFebruary 2, 2008

Posted by DPL in Business, Business Management, Business Professionals, Commitment, Courage, creativity, deckplate leadership, Honor, leadership, Life, management, military leadership, Navy, Professional Development, Values.
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“The world doesn’t come to the clever folks, it comes to the stubborn, obstinate, one-idea-at-a-time people.” ~ Mary Roberts Rinehart

Creativity is vital to the Deckplate Leader because life is rarely black-and-white. We have to be able to come up with what I like to call, “creative solutions to modern problems.”

The Role Of The Chief Versus The Officer

The catalyst for change and improvement should not always rest with the CEO, the Commanding Officer….or anybody serving in an executive leadership position. That is the job for the Deckplate Leader. I use this example when explaining our role as Deckplate Leaders to my Sailors:

The officer says, “We will be going to Point B tomorrow, and I want us to leave here, Point A, by 0800.” The Deckplate Leader says, “Aye, Sir,” and then gets the ship ready to depart by 0800 and gets the engines to work in order to go to point B. But halfway to point B the Deckplate Leader should have a pretty good idea of where Point C is and indicate that to his/her leaders so that they can make the ultimate decision to listen to their Deckplate Leaders and make the order to proceed to Point C.

In order to have that kind of foresight, you have to have a good handle on the rest of the 5 Be’s–Be Relevant, Be Ready, and Be Right–and in order to have your foresight known, you have to have a good grasp of the first “Be”…Be Bold. However, without the second “Be”, Be Creative, you can never hope to be successful in the other areas.

Sustainable Innovation

The most difficult part of creativity, or innovation, is having the change last. You have to have sustainable innovation. How do you do that? Well, first, you can’t make changes just for the sake of making change. You know the addage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Everybody wants to make their mark and leave their legacy. But if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. Maybe your legacy is that you kept a successful program from falling apart and passed on a good product to your successor. I will argue, though, that things can always be better and processes can always be improved. After all, times change, technology improves, old ways of doing things and normal routines become obsolete. It is our creativity that allows us to move with the times.

The second part of sustainable innovation is keeping it simple. The KISS rule applies here. Keep It Simple Stupid. Too much change is a shock to the system. You must manage it and pick away at the battles that you can win. Make sure that your change doesn’t create more work or cost more money. The goal is to become more efficient and cost effective, thereby producing more output with the same level of quality as there was before.

Another part of sustainable change is what we call “buy in”. This is not your father’s world anymore. It’s not a situation where the boss gets to bark the orders and the worker-bees just do it. There must be buy in from your subordinates. This means that you have to solicit the input and creativity of your replacements, our future leaders, to come up with a solution that the majority will approve of so that you have their buy in. More than likely, the workers will still be there after you leave. If you want your change to stick, then it will be those workers that carry out the job and pass it on. And if your successor ends up making a change just for the sake of change then it will not be well received, in a way forcing your successor to continue with your way of doing things or improving on your idea.

Now, I’m not talking about always going with the “group think” mentality. You are “The Chief” after all. If you know your people well enough then you won’t always have to consult them when implementing change because you will already know what the reaction will be. “Soliciting” in this case means talking to your people. Asking them questions and listening, really listening, to what they have to say.

Last, but not least, is change that is in the name of doing the right thing. Sometimes you will arrive on a scene where there are processes that don’t adhere to organizational policy, norms, or tradition and while they may work for the short term can end up causing a failure in your organization. Change must be for the right reasons and in the name of doing the right thing. If you create change that only benefits yourself, then it will not last. However, if you create change that benefits the majority of the parties involved and results in long-term success for the mission and the organization, then nobody can argue with it. Well, they can, but they will lose. Which is a good segue for the next session…

Picking Your Battles

You want to change the world. Change is always a fight. The right answer is out there right in front of everybody’s nose, and it seems like a no-brainer to us, but change, especially in the name of doing the right thing, is always an uphill battle. It will most likely be the unpopular idea because it is difficult to override our personal obligations to self-preservation. But take note of the quote that began this whole section. “The world doesn’t come to the clever folks, it comes to the stubborn, obstinate, one-idea-at-a-time people.” And as my boss just told me recently, “Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

What all this means is that there arebattles worth fighting at any particular moment in time while others that need to be fought must wait until the first ones are won. What makes them worth your time is your ability to win at any particular point in time. Unfortunately, that also means that you won’t be changing the world overnight, and it means that you must have the energy to be persistent, or stubborn.

Where Deckplate Leaders Make Their Money

Deckplate Leaders do NOT dictate policy…directly. We advise our senior leadership on what policy should be, but at the end of the day it is someone above us that dictates the policy. Generally speaking, we are not lawyers, doctors, psychologists, politicians or clerics. Our job, then, is to advise our senior leadership on what policy should be and enforce the policy once it is published in finalized, whether we agree with it or not.

Policy is rarely cut and dry though. They are vaguely written for a very specific reason: to allow for sustainability and flexibility. They will hardly ever dictate exactly how something must be done. They will generally state the goal, the objectives that absolutely must be accomplished on the road to achieving the goal, and the things that absolutely will not be allowed while completing the particular mission. That leaves a LOT of gray area, and this gray area is where Deckplate Leaders will earn their keep by being creative and applying their knowledge of the instructions and policies to their new and unique situations. We must also use these methods of guidance when creating and sustaining change.


Creativity is vital to the Deckplate Leader because without it change will never begin at the level that it should, the deckplates. The only constant in life is change, and change requires leaders to “Be Creative” in order to be successful. Deckplate Leaders take ownership of this fact and are always thinking about process improvement to make the mission just as successful, but more efficiently.

Also, leading when everything is okay is easy. The true test of one’s leadership ability is to lead in the face of adversity, crisis and transformation; “leading in the suck”. This all usually takes place when new situations arise, and requires a certain degree of creativity to be successful.

The idea is not to re-invent the wheel. The wheel still works and we all like it.  But if we can improve on the tread of the wheel’s tire, well, then now we have something special.


  • Be persistent
  • Keep it simple
  • Do the right thing
  • And eat the elephant one bight at a time.

Now That The Test Is Over…It Is Just BeginningJanuary 21, 2008

Posted by DPL in Advancement Exam, Business, Business Management, Business Professionals, Commitment, Courage, deckplate leadership, Honor, leadership, management, military leadership, Navy, Professional Development, Time management, Values.
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Our Navy’s Sailors recently, on 17 January, took the advancement exam for Chief Petty Officer, which begins the nearly one year long process for advancement to Chief Petty Officer. This post is not going to be about Deckplate Leadership necessarily, but I instead wanted to take a moment to provide some advice for those you who have just taken the first test.

It Is Just The Beginning

Yes, the first test. And there will be many more over the coming year(s). Your next test will be getting the necessary information from your service record into a package and send it as correspondence to the selection board. The best way to do this is to remember our 4th “Be”, Be READY. “The 7 P’s” falls under this category. Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. So with that being said, order your CD-ROMs now. You should have done this already to be honest. I always ordered mine on January 1st of the year I tested. But, if you haven’t ordered it yet it is not too late. When is too late? When the selection board eligible list comes out in another month or two. If you wait that long, you may be waiting a while for your CD to arrive in the mail as there will be about 25,000 candidates doing the same thing, waiting until the last second.

Follow these steps once you get your CD:

  1. Bounce the records that you have on the CD-ROM, which will be everything that BUPERS has in your permanent service record, off of what you have in your field service record.
  2. Make copies of whatever is missing from the CD and put it together in a pile.
  3. Type up your cover letter. If you’d like an example you can download this Cover Letter.
  4. If you don’t know how to put together a package for a selection board, review the Navy-Marine Corp Correspondence Manual and label your pages with their correct enclosure and page numbers.
  5. Place them in a folder of your choosing and set them aside until the instructions for submitting correspondence are released in a NAVADMIN on the NPC website.

Remember, the board can only look at the last 5 years. So don’t get all wrapped up in that missing certificate for the Navy-Marine Corp Achievement Medal you received in 1998. You’ll waste time looking for it and you’ll waste the board’s time by including it with your package because they have to look at everything you submit, but cannot count anything older than 5 years.

Also remember this, the most important part of your record at the board is Block 43 on your evals. The board will scrutinize this section, so the more time you give the board members to look at your eval the better off you are. So keep your packages thin, and only include information from the past 5 years that will give them the best picture of WHO you are–wink, wink, stomp, stomp.

After The Package Is Complete

So, congratulations! You made board. You submitted your package early and there are no discrepancies noted on NPC. Now what? Well, now is NOT the time to start resting. If you are one of the lucky few who will be selected then there will be requirements for you to complete prior to receiving the anchors. One of those mandatory requirements are 9th House leadership courses that will have to be completed. Some of them take six hours to complete, and you will need to have the CD-ROMs to complete them.

It would greatly benefit you to complete these courses as soon as possible because waiting until the selection results are released will place you WAY behind the power curve and will cause you a lot of grief. I know, what if you don’t get selected, right? Wouldn’t it be a waste of time to do those courses then? No. Absolutely not for two reasons.

  1. Heaven forbid you actually learn something new.
  2. You will have that much less to do next year.

Test #3: Chief’s Induction Or Accepting Non-Selection

There is much argument over the constant change of names and that Induction is still Initiation, but by a different name. I am here to tell you all that it is NOT an initiation and is exactly what MCPON Campa has re-named it, an induction. Look it up in your dictionary. It is a boot camp for senior leadership. Imagine boot camp being eliminated. What would the quality of our Sailors be if we didn’t have it? Now imagine the quality of our senior leaders if we didn’t have boot camp for them? Being a Chief is a whole new world folks, with all kinds of serious responsibilities that you have no comprehension of until you actually put on the uniform. You must be tested and accepted by your peers and you must feel the weight of the Navy and the Nation on your shoulders. This is why we put our senior leaders through another boot camp.

With that said, I’d like to share some quotes from George Washington that relate to this section:

  • “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.“
  • “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.“
  • “Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.
  • “Friendship is a plant of slow growth and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation”

If you are not one of the lucky few to go through Induction this year, your test will be in how you pick yourself up, re-examine your strengths and weaknesses and move on to next year. At the end of the day, we all have a job to do and it needs to get done. Are you going to pout and give up? Or will you hold your head up proudly and accept that you have done all you can, and continue to do more to improve so that you are more competitive next year?

The Final, Continuing Test

Whether you return to work as a First Class Petty Officer or you have successfully passed your peer examination/review and return to work as a Chief, you will have one final test. Unfortunately, and fortunately, this one never ends. This is the test of your Sailors, your employees. Now that you have earned the title of “Chief” you will have to earn it again and again, every single day, for the rest of your life. There are four groups that have to believe that you are “The Chief” in order to be successful in this position.

  1. Yourself.
  2. Your peers.
  3. Your bosses.
  4. Your Sailors.

All of these groups have to believe this, or you and your organization will fail. But, if you exercise the 5 Be’s, if you train your replacements, if you are always doing the right thing even when nobody is looking, then all will be fine. Everything will fall into place. It is that easy, but it is also that difficult.

Remember, it doesn’t take a set of anchors to make somebody a Chief. When you get advanced it is because you are already operating and leading at that level. So, that must mean that being the Chief is more of who you are, rather than what you are. Right?

Good Luck

I wish all the candidates this year the best of luck in this process of change. Realize that the chances are slim for selection, only 25% of the board eligible candidates will get selected. It is highly competitive, and it only gets worse. Only 17% of the Navy are Chief Petty Officers, just 3.5% are Senior Chief Petty Officers, and only 1% are Master Chief Petty Officers. So a Non-Selection does not mean you are not worthy of the position, it just means there was someone else that was better or more qualified for the job on paper.

For more career planning, download the following resources. The more you understand of the process, the more success you will enjoy. (NOTE: The information on the CPO board below is no secret. Anybody with $25 to buy a CPO Manual at the local NEX will have the same information.)

How To Get Ahead…The Right WayJanuary 20, 2008

Posted by DPL in Business, Business Management, Business Professionals, Commitment, Courage, deckplate leadership, Honor, leadership, management, military leadership, Navy, Time management, Values.
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As I was surfing through the leadership blogs on my blogroll, I came across an article called “Another Definition of Remarkable” on Remarkable Leadership. In it, the author gives credit to Steve Martin for some beautiful advice. I will repeat the same quote here:

“When people ask me how do you make it in show business or whatever, what I always tell them — And nobody ever takes note of it ‘cuz it’s not the answer they wanted to hear. What they want to hear is here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script, here’s how you do this — But I always say, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” If somebody’s thinking, “How can I be really good?”, people are going to come to you. It’s much easier doing it that way than going to cocktail parties.”

In order to be a successful Deckplate Leader, you must first have trust and credibility. The common denominator of those two elements will be your ability to do the job. Deckplate Leaders cannot lose sight of the importance of their technical expertise. Too often I find that people will forget this part when they are given a new title or a promotion. There comes a point where one can be easily fooled into thinking that they are leading because they are taking care of all the administrative duties and that they do not need to be proficient in their jobs anymore.

Becoming The “Go-to Guy”

Steve Martin is absolutely correct. You have to be good…really, really good at what you do. When you are the technical expert in your field you create your own opportunities, you make the boss look good, you make the team look good, and people begin to come to you for answers and guidance. Becoming the ‘go-to guy’ is exactly the position you need to be in in order to get a head in your organization.

So don’t get caught up in the politics. Don’t stab people in the back or catfight to lobby for that particular position. Just be undeniably good at your job. Nothing will ever be owed to you. You will have to work for everything you get. So if you want to move up the food chain, put in the work and know everything about what you do and then strive to teach everybody around what you know. You will not only ensure your success, but the success of the organization as a whole and will achieve a better, more honorable sense of fulfillment.

Talk Is Cheap

I’ve always used this analogy when discussing this topic with my Sailors: You need to be so good that when you walk down the street flowers should be blooming as you pass because of the light you bring. A colleague of mine added to this that the flowers shouldn’t be growing because you are tossing fertilizer either. What we mean is that have to be able to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

When you are more concerned with how far up your boss’ rear you are than with the results that you produce then you will ultimately fail. And as a result, will make your people fail. Action is the necessity, but correct action is the goal. The only way to do that…the only way to really take the correct action…is to be undeniably good at what you do.

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Happy 123rd birthday, chiefs! As I look back over my career and reflect on the significant milestones I've reached, the one that stands out the most is when I was advanced to chief petty officer (CPO). Advancing to CPO is, in my opinion, the most significant promotion of any branch of our armed forces. Most, if not all, active duty and retired CPOs--and those who were prior CPOs before obtaining a commission--will echo that same sentiment if asked.

The CPO Creed gives us our initial charge as chief petty officers and serves as a source document from which all other directives and guiding principles are derived that govern what is expected and required of a CPO. It is that document that we use to "take a fix" on how we are performing as CPOs each year. To be "the chief," you must consistently evaluate (i.e., take a fix on) your performance as a deckplate leader to see if you are, in fact, still on course with your charge as a CPO.

A true CPO exhibits virtually all of the following characteristics (not all-inclusive).

Leadership: I mean this on the grandest of all scales--unilateral, all-encompassing, where the rubber meets the road and, most of all, passionate. I call it leadership from the gut. The chief understands the differences between leadership, supervision and management.

Experience: The chief has already done what he or she demands and expects from the Sailors he or she is charged with leading, while consistently training, developing, and mentoring those Sailors.

Understanding. A true CPO has a full and clear understanding of his or her charge as a chief petty officer in providing deckplate leadership.

Always on: The CPO inculcates our mission, vision and guiding principles into everyday life, both on- and off-duty, and not just once a year during CPO induction. You should routinely evaluate yourself and ask yourself, "Am I measuring up to the creed?"

Sense of history: The chief has a sense of the heritage and history of the CPO and understands his or her role in maintaining and contributing to our legacy of strong deckplate leadership. Acknowledge those master chiefs, senior chiefs and chiefs who helped form the foundation from which you operate today as a chief and forever understand your tie to them.

Selflessness: The chief has a full understanding that "the cause" is much bigger than oneself. I don't do this for me; I do it for the Navy and our history of being and maintaining ourselves as the most powerful sea-going service in the world.

Represent: A true CPO has a clear understanding of what it is that you represent when you don your uniform (the Navy, your command, the CPO Mess). You are the chief!

Again, leadership. A true CPO is the jack of all trades and master of one--leadership! He or she knows how to put the right Sailor in the right place at the right time!

I am privileged and honored to be afforded the opportunity to provide leadership that directly impacts the future of our Navy. I am humbled by it, and I am truly indebted to those who have forged the way before me. That tie that binds me to our CPO heritage is what gives me my understanding of what my charge is as the chief!

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