I know a retired Damage Controlman Senior Chief (DCCS) who has been retired now for just about four years. Not a day goes by that he does not think about his time that he has spent in the Navy. During his twenty years of service, he spent the majority of it leading Junior Sailors. Since I can remember, this Senior Chief has shown me what leadership is. He not only led Junior Sailors, he also was able to lead Officers who out ranked him up to O-5. The position that he gained legitimate power from transitioned into referent power what Division/Departmental Leading Chief Petty Officer in USS MAHAN (DDG 72). This position made him lead subordinates, peers, and superiors, thus ultimately testing his leadership capabilities. The type of relationship that DCCS was able to build as a leader with everyone in his division and department was envied through the entire ship.
But what does being a Senior Chief in the United States Navy require? In order to succeed one needs to be confident, have drive, motivation, and be able to lead. If you look at Kirkpatrick and Locke’s list of trait you can see the qualities needed in order to get you started as a leader. The first thing that is needed is a desire to lead, without this, no one is going to follow. Next you need self-confidence, without this you will not be able to stand up in front of 30 Sailors in the morning and tell them what needs to get done. Knowledge of the business, one would think that if you have made it to the rank of E-8, Senior Chief, you would know the business. This does not just mean that you know how turn a wrench, but in the position of Senior Chief, you also need to know how to get Sailors to advance, what happens if someone gets in trouble, and how things work inport compared to being deployed. Without this knowledge a Junior Sailors will find someone else to go to with questions. The knowledge of the business helps develop the next trait, cognitive ability. Having cognitive ability is important when in a Senior Chief’s role, it allows the Senior Chief to be able to make quick decision based on what s/he knows from the past. Finally, honesty and integrity. These traits are important to show your Sailors from the very beginning, if they cannot trust you, they will not work for you. Honesty and integrity is important to a Sailor because they need to know that what you say is the truth. If it comes down to a moment of truth, a moment in combat, and there is a small shadow of doubt about the orders they are even, all could be lost.
This Senior Chief, although retired, continues to lead Sailors. In the past four years, DCCS has received several emails and letters from former Sailors thanking him for everything that he did for them. Whether it be recruiting them into the Navy, encouraging them through a hard point in their life, or even having to discipline them in order to get them back on track. DCCS continues to lead even after his has hung up his uniform.
The Pennsylvania State University (2016). Unit 1: Leader-Based Theory of Leadership. Penn State World Campus: Summer 2016. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/.