Leadership Types: Leadership is a trait that can start from any place in an organization, but usually starts at the top, and runs throughout the entire organization.
Great leaders create great organizations through picking and developing winning teams. Bad leaders can create failure in any organization.
Leadership Study from Literature
“The Caine Mutiny” is a novel about a commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg, whose tyrannical command creates such desperation among the officers that they commit mutiny. Herman Wouk, the author of the “The Caine Mutiny,” drew upon his knowledge from World War II experiences aboard a similar vessel, the USS Zane.
The book dramatically portrays leadership failure. The mistakes and dishonesty of Captain Queeg result in mistakes among the officers and crew and create dangerous and embarrassing situations for the ship under his command.
My Navy Experience with Leadership Types
I was a bridge officer aboard an aircraft carrier. I worked around great leaders, and I studied great leaders.
As I said in an earlier post, there is a saying in the United States Navy, “So Goes the Captain, So Goes the Wardroom, So Goes the Ship.” The wardroom is the officers’ eating area aboard ship. The point of this statement is simple. Great commanding officers raise the performance of their officers and in turn their crew.
During World War II, Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz was the Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Fleet (CinCPac) and Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas (CinCPOA), for U.S. and Allied air, land, and sea forces. Here are two quotes from Admiral Nimitz that show his view of leadership.
“Leadership consists of picking good men and helping them do their best.”
“Some of the best advice I’ve had comes from junior officers and enlisted men.”
My Experience with a Great Leader
The greatest leader I ever worked for is Admiral Sylvester R. Foley, who was Commander, United States Pacific Fleet. Earlier in his career, he was my commanding officer aboard the aircraft carrier, the USS Midway. He would say things to encourage and to simplify the job for the people under his command.
His first week after taking command, he called all of us bridge officer into his cabin. He explained that, in his absence, we bridge officers had ultimate authority over the safe navigation of the ship. As an example, he said that at sea, even in middle of the night and everyone is asleep, we had the authority wake the entire ship to go to battle stations. In doing so, everyone would lock down the watertight doors and hatches to protect against flooding in the event of a collision at sea.
He went on to explain that, if we made a mistake, he would take responsibility for our actions. Furthermore, he said that it is better to awaken the entire ship for safety than risk lives by failing to act.
Great leaders like Admiral Nimitz and Admiral Foley influence lives. For me, these two are leadership types I try to follow.