Year of the Captains & Colonels: Captain Lawrence Gaillard, USCG

Year of the Captains & Colonels: Captain Lawrence Gaillard, USCG

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The Path to O6”

Written by:  CAPT Lawrence Gaillard, U.S. Coast Guard

My path to O6 has been a long and enjoyable journey and in the next few paragraphs, I would like to share with you a few observations and recommendations from what I have learned on my path to the rank of Captain.   I would like to thank God for giving me the opportunity to share this with you and for bringing me this far in my career.   Now, before we go into specific details I want to let you know that you can make it!  You are closer to O6 than you think and I want to provide you with a few tools to help you realize your goals within your respective organization.

One of guiding principles of NNOA and a critical component of a successful career is active and diverse mentoring. The good news is if you are reading this post, you are probably already member of NNOA and plugged in to one of the most diverse maritime mentoring agency in the world.  As a NNOA member you have access to a wealth of career knowledge encompassing multiple services and with information from prior flag officers. As you ascend through the ranks of your career, you should strive to have multiple mentors.  Some should look like you, some should not.   You want to pick mentors that are within and outside of your career field and mentors that are one rank and two to three ranks above you.  A good mentor will look out for you and give you career advice especially at points in your career where broadening assignments can expand your horizons.   Evaluations are another critical element of an officer’s career and you should regularly provide your evaluations before and after the submission deadline period to your mentors for feedback and course corrections. This can prevent adverse language or recommendations in your evaluation that can hinder your future promotion potential.  Do not be afraid of operational setbacks and making mistakes, we have all made them and that is how we learn. Errors in the line of duty conducting missions are much more forgivable than character and integrity issues encountered off duty.

Work Life Balance is another key component to successfully navigation to the rank of O6.  You have not achieved the great success in your current organization without the help of your family and loved ones.  Prioritize, recognize and be there for them.  One day we will all need to hang up the uniform, but your family will be with you till the end.  Be sure to cultivate these relationships along the way and allow them to partake in the amazing experiences you receive during your career in the military.

Maintain honor and Integrity above all else and always take care of your people.  Our people are our number one resource and no mission is completed.  Whether you are leading a division of three or a crew of 5000, the welfare of your crew should be your top priority.

Be Patience and enjoy the season that you are in.  There were times where I was so focused on what was ahead of me that I lost sight of what was right next to me. Keep God first and He will always direct your path.  And finally….. be yourself.  The organization truly values the unique skills, diversity and talents you bring, so be sure to make the best of it.  Be safe out there and Good Luck!


Year of the Captains & Colonels: CAPT Ulysses S. Mullins, USCG

Year of the Captains & Colonels: CAPT Ulysses S. Mullins, USCG



You are a leader first, last, and always. That extends to your personal life probably more so than your professional life. How you live your personal life is going to largely influence your professional success. Being a leader does not always mean that you are in charge and need to make all decisions. Your career progression should be a perpetual learning process, evolution and honing of your leadership skills. I believe leadership is a continuum of leading, supporting, influencing, and followership that requires a fluctuating balance of discernment, patience, and decisiveness. There are occasions where your leadership will clearly be needed to ensure mission outcomes and effectiveness. On other occasions, you will be supporting your command or your superiors by carrying out their objectives. In these roles, you may not be the key decision maker, but may largely influence decisions. Take this role seriously because senior leaders are relying on you to provide decision support that is sound, well-reasoned and considers associated risks. Do not take it personal if your input is heard, but not taken, as there may be other factors, unknown to you, influencing the final decision. Following or followership simply put means there are occasions you allow your subordinates or counterparts to lead in a situation because they may be better versed, have more expertise or you simply may not have the bandwidth to be fully engaged in the matter at hand, so you have to trust them. However, you should maintain situational awareness to ensure things are headed to a favorable or successful outcome.


With each new assignment, quickly ascertain your sphere of influence by understanding your responsibilities, authorities and senior leadership’s objectives and goals. Ensure that your actions, decisions, and performance are aligned with senior leadership’s goals and objectives. Once you understand the boundaries of your influence you can work to expand the sphere. Expanding your sphere of influence will come as you establish your reputation through performance of duties, broadening your knowledge, and demonstrating competency and sustained credibility. Take advantage of opportunities to excel that are above your paygrade or assigned responsibilities. Definitely find out beforehand what is expected, so you are certain that you can execute.


Aim to make your bosses’ day easier, not harder. When presenting problems, provide well-rationed and defendable solutions. If it is within the scope of your authority, make the decision, but keep your supervisor informed. Every supervisor will not be the same, some may proffer a wide berth to allow you to execute and perform to the best of your ability and others depending upon their leadership style may proffer a narrow berth. Be humble in both situations and do your best to meet their expectations. If expectations are not clear seek additional guidance and/or clarity.

Leadership is a constant, while situations are fluid and require the right type of leadership at the right time to achieve the best outcome. Enjoy your career and the leadership journey!

Year of the Captains & Colonels: CAPT Tasya Lacy, USN

Year of the Captains & Colonels: CAPT Tasya Lacy, USN


Message to NNOA President & Members:

Thank you for affording me the opportunity to share some of the leadership lessons learned from nearly three decades of service.  I am here today because of the Sailors who entrusted me to lead them and who worked tirelessly to realize my vision no matter where I served.  It is also important to acknowledge the role of the many mentors and sponsors who not only helped me to get here but helped me to stay here. 

These lessons are not just words that I say but reflect how I try to live.  This is what worked for me and I hope that you will find some nuggets that work for you also.

Know what you value and then live like its valuable.  Believe it or not, I did not plan to be a Navy captain.  My motto is, “I’ll stay in the Navy as long as I am able to make a difference in the lives of Sailors and this lifestyle continues to be compatible with my family.”  I value family, so my family was at the heart of every career decision.  As much as possible, I wanted to make sure that my service was for them and with them rather than at their expense.  To the best of my ability, I not only tried to stay focused on my own family, but I tried to create an environment where my Sailors were able to do the same with their families.  While in command, I did not turn my office into an “I love me” wall but rather covered the walls with pictures of my family.  It was more important for me that my Sailors could see that I valued my family more than my military accomplishments.  In so doing, it made it easier for them to talk to me about the real issues affecting them.  As you move forward in your career, I also urge you to keep the following in mind:  

Be capable and competent.  Nobody wants to follow someone who is incapable and incompetent. 

Be humble.  Everyone will know that you are the boss, so you don’t have to be bossy.

Be willing to fail.  The mistakes you make today will prepare you to be better tomorrow only if you take note of what you learned and do not repeat what you did wrong today.

Don’t burn bridges.  You never know when you will have to walk that way again.  Rather than burning bridges, build them instead.  These bridges will reach far and wide and come in handy when needed.

Never mistake kindness for weakness.  Everyone has two sides. You would rather see the side of me that smiles, trust me.  The same is true for other kind leaders who demonstrate that is possible to be kind and firm at the same time.

Resist the urge to be the best at everything!  As a leader, you don’t have to be the best person on the team, your job is to get the best from your people. 

Not everyone who speaks well to you will speak well about you.  When you learn who those people are, treat them well anyway.  Just know that you can’t trust them, be wary of their motives, and keep it moving.  Yes, I even smile at my enemies and I challenge you to do the same.

An open-door policy is no good if it leads to a closed mind.  You must be willing to be open – open minded, approachable, and receptive. 

You will be wrong sometimes.  Own it and make it right as fast as you can.

You can’t build anything lasting on a broken foundation. Trust is the foundation, build that first.

Don’t ignore bad leaders.  Learn from them or you risk being them.

Lawful doesn’t mean it isn’t awful.  Not every adverse situation warrants a severe response.  Just because you can take certain actions doesn’t mean you should.  A good leader discerns when and how to use power.

Be committed to excellence.  At the core of the word excellence is the verb, EXCEL. You must first EXCEL to be excellent or to attain excellence.  Excel is an action word, so it inherently implies that you are going to have to do some work, and not just do it, but do it to the best of your ability. To excel takes practice. It is not achieved by a one-time good effort, instead, you must repeat that good effort until you become great. Talent alone is not enough to make a winning team – leadership always matters. 

Year of the Captains & Colonels: Colonel David R. Everly, USMC

Year of the Captains & Colonels: Colonel David R. Everly, USMC

Message to NNOA President & Members:

I am humbled and excited to provide reflections to the members of the NNOA. NNOA has been a part of my career, since I was 2ndLt. Philosophy is defined as “the synthesis of all learning; any system of motivating concepts or principles; the system of values by which one lives; a basic theory, a viewpoint.” The follow reflections is an expression of meaningful principles of leadership and command that guide my thoughts and actions.

Integrity is a firm adherence to a moral or ethical code.  A Marine or Sailor is either honest or he is not – there is no gray area here.  The foundation of decentralized command is trust, the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of a fellow Marine or Sailor.

The British Royal Marines define cheerfulness as the ability to have a sparkle in your eye and a spring in your step during the most difficult of circumstances. We might sum up cheerfulness as having a positive mental attitude, the ability no matter how bad it gets to see the “glass as half full instead of half empty.” Cheerful Marines crack a joke and maintain a positive outlook that inspires their fellow Marines to endure and persevere, vice complaining about things they cannot change.  Always be positive – it is infectious and dramatically improves unit performance and combat power.

Family is the single most important influence in a person’s life.  Marriage and family are perhaps society’s oldest and most resilient institutions.  From the beginning of human life, people have grouped themselves into families to find emotional, physical, and communal support. Family structures may vary, but the value of our family endures.  Families are the basic, foundational social units in all human communities around the world, and healthy individuals within healthy families are at the core of a healthy society.

Warfighting Mindset:  We should never lose sight of the fact that we are training for combat and, eventually, for the lives that will be entrusted to us all. Warfighting is an inherently intellectual endeavor; therefore intellectual curiosity is required! In war, our mind is our most valuable weapon and therefore must be exercised frequently like our body to withstand the stress of combat.

Focus. We must never lose sight of the fact that we are training for combat and you will be entrusted with the lives of fellow Marines and Sailors. Espirit de Corps and the warrior spirit will be cultivated in every Marine and Sailor, daily.

Character is the foundation from which all decisions should be made. Everything that you do will be based on sound moral high ground. Integrity is the cornerstone of a Marine’s character. Never compromise or breech your integrity; there is no such thing as situational ethics. Low standards breed lower standards. Your word as a warrior, Marine or Sailor is sacred and should be safeguarded.

Teacher-Mentor-Coach. As Warriors, we must prepare and train the Warriors of tomorrow. Every Marine is a teacher and a student. It is the responsibility of every leader to mentor and respect those in their charge. Active and genuine concern for the personal and professional development of every Marine and Sailor, regardless of rank, is the responsibility and duty of the unit leadership.

Accountability and Responsibility. As leaders, we will assume responsibility for all successes and failures of the unit. Remember, the motto “YOU OWN IT”.

Teamwork. We all bring something to the team and together the team is unstoppable. The whole team must be more than the sum of its parts. A good team encourages and helps individuals member to grow and thrive, regardless of gender, color, religion, beliefs or branch of service.

Humility and Respect. While pride is part of being a Marine or Sailor, we need to remind ourselves that we entered the military to SERVE. Humility serves the critical function of connecting us to one another and allowing us to trust in each other’s abilities, especially when it makes us realize the limits of our own abilities. Take pride in yourself and the unit. Traditions and history matter. Marines and Sailors throughout have sacrificed much of our legacy, we owe it to them to honor their memories and maintain the standard. Always, remember it’s never about you!

Professionalism. A professional strives for excellence in life and profession. Demand professionalism from yourself and others. Activity doesn’t equal accomplishment. Work and train to standard, not time.

Communication reduces friction, minimizes mistakes and produces a learning environment. Keep your seniors, peers and juniors informed. Ask questions when information doesn’t flow. Whenever you can explain why (intent) things need to be done, not just what and when. Never hold onto bad news. Don’t be the senior Marine and Sailor with a secret.

Thinking is your metric.

Discipline your language.

Play chess not checkers.

Don’t be a one-trick pony. Breakout of your comfort zone.

Spot or identify the Say-Do Gap and fix it.

Learn to artfully advise.

Try not to use yourself as the example.

What got you here, doesn’t get you there.

Do not reward selfishness.   

Don’t admire the problem, solve the problem.  Staff energy can be wasted by a toxic blend of unit-centric self-interest and “not-my-job” syndrome.  Symptoms include spending more time resisting tasks, than doing tasks; finger pointing at higher, adjacent, and subordinate headquarters, and lethargic execution of assigned duties.

Define the problem, before you solve the problemAs Sea Service Officers, we will often develop solutions before a problem is properly defined.  You will be more productive by conducting an analysis that frames and clearly defines the problem, before solving the problem.  This analysis is best done with a diverse and inclusive team that provides different viewpoints to the problem definition process.

How you see the problem, can be the problem. Recognize, understand and compensate for personal biases and pre-conceived outcomes during planning or advice.  During the planning process encourage opposing viewpoints and professional discourse of your work by those that think 180 degrees out from you and your planning team. This helps reduce the possibility of “group think” and falling in love with your plan.

Innovation. There is a saying that I admire – “Repetition does not establish validity.” Never be afraid to innovate and try new things.  If the only reason we are doing something is because, “that’s the way we have always done it”, then we may want to take a hard look at that activity.

Be Proactive and Aggressive. We should always avoid taking no for an answer. There is usually more than one way to get a job done; if a door closes, look for a window (legally).  When you go back to your commander and say something cannot be done, the commander will assume you have done everything possible to make it happen and will defend that position vigorously.  We will all look foolish if it turns out that we did not do our homework and there really was a way to accomplish the task that we should have reasonably foreseen.


Semper Fidelis,

Colonel David R Everly


Colonel Everly is a native of Inglewood, California. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a BS in Business Administration. After graduating from The Basic School and the US Army Field Artillery Officer Basic Course with honors, he reported for duty as a Forward Observer with 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines, Camp Lejeune, NC.

While assigned to 10th Marines, 1stLt Everly served as Forward Observer, Guns Platoon Commander, Headquarters Platoon Commander, Assistant Executive Officer, Fire Direction Officer, Artillery Liaison Officer and Battery Executive Officer.

In late 1998, 1stLt Everly reported to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) for duty as the Target Information Officer. 1stLt Everly deployed aboard the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) to the Mediterranean Sea. He participated in OPERATIONS NOBLE ANVIL and SHINING HOPE in Albania, combat operations during OPERATION JOINT GUARDIAN in Kosovo and OPERATION AVID RESPONSE providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Western Turkey. Upon returning from the Mediterranean Sea in the fall of 1999, Captain Everly received orders to The Basic School, Quantico, VA.

While assigned to The Basic School, Captain Everly served as the Primary Fire Support Instructor, Staff Platoon Commander (SPC) for Companies D, F, and B, and as the Officer-in-Charge of the US Naval Academy Leatherneck Program. After completing his TBS tour, Captain Everly reported to the US Army Field Artillery School in Ft Sill, OK for the Field Artillery Captains Career Course (FACCC).

In 2002, he graduated from the Army FACCC with honors and reported to1st Battalion, 12th Marines in Kaneohe, HI. He served as the Assistant Operations Officer, Operations Officer and Battery Commander. As the Commanding Officer, Battery B, Captain Everly deployed his unit to OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM Philippines/ Thailand in support of security/ counter-insurgency operations and Okinawa, Japan, in support of the Unit Deployment Program (UDP) assigned to 3d Battalion, 12th Marines
In 2005, Capt Everly deployed to OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM in support of US Central Command. Captain Everly was assigned to the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force for Former Regime Elements as the Deputy J3 Operations Officer. Completing his tour in Iraq, Major Everly was assigned to the Expeditionary Warfare School in Quantico, VA for duty as a Faculty Advisor and Expeditionary Operations Instructor.

In July 2008, Major Everly reported to 11th Marine Regiment and assumed duties as the Executive Officer, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines. Major Everly deployed in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM and later assumed the duties of Operations Officer, 11th Marine Regiment. In the summer of 2011, he assumed command of 5th Battalion, 11th Marines. In the summer of 2013, Lieutenant Colonel Everly attended the National Defense University. After completing Top Level School, Lieutenant Colonel Everly was assigned to the Operations Directorate (J3), Current Operations (J33), Joint Staff.

ubsequently, he was re-assigned to serve as the Junior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense. In 2016, LtCol Everly was ordered to HQMC, Manpower Management Division as the Ground LtCol Assignment Monitor and he subsequently assumed the duties of the Ground Colonel Assignment Monitor. Colonel Everly commanded The Basic School (TBS) from June 2018 to July 2020. He has joined HQ, II MEF for duty as the AC/S G-5.

Colonel Everly’s civilian and military education include: US Army Field Artillery Career Course, Marine Corps Command and Staff Seminar Program, MS in Management and Leadership from Webster University, MS in Financial Planning from Oklahoma State University and MA in Strategic Security Studies for the National Defense University.

Colonel Everly’s personal awards and decorations include: Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation with Gold Star, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal with Bronze Star and the Combat Action Ribbon.
He is married to the former NaTasha McEachin of Fayetteville, North Carolina and has four children, Aubrey Maya, Elijah James, Faith Liberty and Grace Justice.

Year of the Captains & Colonels: CAPTAIN Kevin B. Reed, USCG

Year of the Captains & Colonels: CAPTAIN Kevin B. Reed, USCG


Message to NNOA President & Members:

My father’s words to me at my OCS graduation were simple, yet impactful – “before honor comes humility”. They remain stenciled in my heart to this day, and have guided every aspect of my progress in the Coast Guard. My journey has only been possible because of the sacrifice of those who came before me, and those who framed the path of this road which so many others now travel. Distinguished service members also made time to provide counsel and to extend a needed hand as I sought to advance. Minus that help, my journey would not have started, and for it, I am eternally grateful. It is the highest honor and obligation to return that courtesy, as I hope my shared thoughts and lessons add some value to the journey of other leaders.

Leadership Philosophy

My philosophy, which I refer to as the Iron Trinity (or The 3-P), centers on the principles of People, Pride, & Professionalism. It reflects the character & resolve expected of each member of the TEAM and my commitment to their success.

  • PeopleEverything begins and ends with your people.  Ships, computers, high tech gear, and ordnance are all tools of the craft. The mission, however, doesn’t get accomplished without well-trained, innovative, and highly motivated personnel! Take care of your people and posture them to succeed in their duties. Equally important, demonstrate the capacity to show interest in their life and activities beyond “the front gate”.
  • PrideStand tall knowing you represent your Family, your Country, and your Crew. Conduct yourself in a manner which honors each group. Be “impeccable” with your word and speak with confidence. Others will notice & emulate.
  • ProfessionalismCommit, on a daily basis, to improving yourself & the knowledge of your craft. Be excellent in all that you do! Elevate your technical expertise & Leadership IQ to stay ahead of an ever-evolving mission. Expand your foundational knowledge to prepare for tomorrow’s challenges.

Words of Wisdom

You know you are “in the fight” and making progress when you have at least 3 humbling moments per week. In my 28 years of Enlisted & Commissioned service, I have routinely hit or surpassed the “3” mark on any given Monday morning before 0900. Stay in the fight, persevere and share the wisdom. I offer the following:

  • Know your mission, train to achieve the best outcomes, and “get after it”!!;
  • Always expect more of yourself….this journey isn’t for the average;
  • Everybody must be accountable for her/his actions….Seniority isn’t a valid exemption;
  • Redemption and reconciliation must be factored into the discipline and accountability process;
  • Improve or regress, there’s no such thing as “remain the same;
  • Know your people, what they value, and how to maximize their strengths;
  • Respect your personnel’s time and they will value yours… is a finite commodity;
  • Feedback is the “glittering prize”: be bold enough to give it, and wise enough to receive/digest it;
  • Be teachable, and know that wisdom may come from the most junior member on staff;
  • The key ingredient to “success” is the rest of the TEAM. Everybody has something to offer;
  • Empower your leaders & give them space to “own” their work; Don’t fail at your job, trying to do theirs;
  • Develop your TEAM to notice & consider the little details (they have to know your expectation);
  • Know when your role shifts from being a “Rockstar” to a “Superstar”, and understand the difference;
  • Maintain an even keel. Your team can’t be afraid to bring you bad news. Emotional intelligence matters;
  • Bring others along for the ride. Nobody does it on their own & it’s not all about “you”!;
  • Give junior personnel opportunities to lead, and “tell the story” of your organization;
  • Listening is a valuable skill, and one of your best tools….use it wisely; and finally
  • Enthusiasm is blissfully contagious….it starts with LEADERSHIP!!


Year of the Captains & Colonels: CAPT Pamela Theorgood, USN

Year of the Captains & Colonels: CAPT Pamela Theorgood, USN

The Bottom Line: You Just Have To C.A.R.E.

Articles and books abound on the topic of effective leadership and the unique combination of skills required for becoming a great leader.  Many highlight the need to hone multiple leadership styles and knowing which style to use for the right situation.  Not all situations and, certainly not all of our people, are the same.  Highly talented leaders know the right combination of approaches and know when the particular situation calls for a more authoritative style, a more pacesetting style, or when the situation dictates a more affiliative leadership approach.   This knowledge, when applied authentically, with the highest levels of integrity, competence, mental toughness, and grit provides some of the key ingredients to enhance your leadership skills and accelerate your professional growth.

  However, in my view, greatness requires one more critical element.  It requires something that has been proven repeatedly throughout my career, to include my time in major command, time on major Staffs, and my time deployed in the middle of major conflict.  It can revolutionize your performance, make you more valuable to your teams and leadership, and maximize your ability to lead people through difficult times.  This one thing is the very simple understanding that you must first C.A.R.E.  You must care passionately about your people and their success, care about excelling in your command’s mission, and, in order to sustain high performance, you must also care about yourself and your continued growth.  In short, the leadership excellence we need in today’s challenging environment takes great C.A.R.E.

            The “C” in C.A.R.E. is one of the most important tools you can have in your toolbox. “C” stands for Communicate and Connect.  If there is such a thing as the secret sauce, look no further.  Developing your skills in these areas will set you apart from your peers and enable you to accomplish incredible results. 

  • Communicate: The ability to write effectively and speak well is a crucial skill that will make you indispensable to your senior leaders and enable you to succeed in effecting the change and achieving the results you seek for your people, your organization, and your mission. Unfortunately, this skill does not come with rank, it comes with work.
    • Brief to be understood, not to prove your intelligence! Spend less time developing magnificent looking slides with clouds in every corner and focus more on the message.  Consider your audience. What does he or she need to know? Why are you briefing them on this subject and what is the “so what!” Give a specific example that you know will increase their care factor.  Keep it short, keep it simple, keep it clear, and ensure it is impactful.
    • Learn to write well. Practice until you see your work passing through the Boss’s desk with minimal adjustment! Be concise, be able to determine most salient points, and be able to write them down coherently with proper flow.  If all you can do is verbally describe the issue but struggle to capture it in words, this is something I highly encourage you work on.  Learn to write so that all your extremely busy Boss has to do is hit the send button.  You will be sought after.
    • Never miss the opportunity to be clear. ALWAYS ensure your audience, especially your senior leadership, knows if what you are speaking on is what you “think”, what you “heard” but still need to verify, or if it is truly factual information.  Most likely, what you share will be shared further.
  • Connect: One of the best books written on leadership is John C Maxwell’s book entitled, “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.” In his book, he states, “connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.” Read this book, and then read it again.
    • Regardless of race, gender, or any other differences, you absolutely can master the art of connecting, finding the common ground with people. You can find what is really important to them, what matters or inspires them, and then you should care enough to make a connection with them in that arena. THIS, my friends, is the secret sauce.  This is about others, creating experiences, forging bonds, and inspiring people. This is where the magic starts and the impossible becomes the possible.
    • It may shock you to know that not everyone in my career was excited to see a Black female show up for an assigned job. There are many stories I can share on my experiences.  However, I can tell you, each and every tour was a phenomenal success with lifelong friendships made in the process.  The point is this is a people business.  Place a priority on people, find that connection, and succeed beyond all expectations.

The “A” in C.A.R.E. stands for Attitude, of course.  Many do not realize that the attitude of the leader truly is the attitude of the team but magnified.

  • Attitude: At some point, we have all heard that attitude determines your altitude. What I think we need to mentor more on is the impact you as a leader have on your team every day with the attitude you bring to work.  Your attitude, your energy level, and your level of enthusiasm is highly contagious and is exactly what your team will adopt, if they consider you their leader.
    • Show up upset, and down on how things are going, you will see that feeling passed down to the lowest levels of your team, only to a much worse extent. Walk around and it seems like everyone is in a bad mood.
    • Show up with a winning attitude, full of energy and confidence in your team, and that feeling pervades the workplace and is a force multiplier. Whatever it takes to show up with a winner’s attitude, make it a priority and do it.  If you need to jam to your favorite music on the way to work, sing, exercise, or give yourself a pep talk, take the time to do it.  Your team deserves a good leader and leadership starts with the attitude you bring to your team each day.

The “R” in C.A.R.E. stands for being Responsive and being Ready.  Care about both.

  • Responsive: If you truly understand the points I made about connecting and prioritizing people, it should be easily understood how important it is to be responsive to others. As you juggle an overwhelming workload and try to handle multiple priorities, do all that you can to be responsive to others.  Even if you cannot complete the task, a simple response acknowledging their request, earns you more reputational capital than you can imagine.  It makes people feel their need is important to you and that they matter.  Failing to be responsive and help others, or forgetting the need entirely is the direct opposite of “connecting” with others.
    • On one of my recent ship visits, the CO was telling me about something important to him that he directed one of his officers to make happen. CO continued to bring this topic up to the officer but still had no good status.  Since I was on the ship, I asked the officer if he remembers the CO’s request.  This officer proceeded to give me outstanding, very detailed status of the requirement.  Then I asked, “Does your CO know this?” Dead silence.  Action without communication to the person who cares is not being responsive!  
  • Ready: Try to be ready and supremely prepared, always.  Take the time necessary to know your stuff, ask the questions, and be so ready that when you speak, you speak with confidence and earn that reputational capital that no one can touch.
    • Anticipate and Take Action. Your value increases tremendously when you learn to anticipate the need or the problem and take the required action without having to be asked.  OWN your operation in a way that keeps your Boss shining.  Your entire team benefits from that earned credibility.

Finally, we end with the “E” in taking C.A.R.E.

  • Excellence: Aim for excellence every day and excellence in all that you do. Set a high standard for yourself and for your team from day one and do all that needs to be done to maintain that standard.  If the job is done right every day, the way it is required to be done, then your operation should always be inspection ready.  Ramping up for inspections is an indicator that some part of your operation could be improved.  Show the example.  Conduct your spot checks, verify things are not only done, but done well, and help your team truly learn their jobs.
    • Reading is authorized. Take others with you and ensure they are learning along the way. In the beginning of my O5 Sea Tour, my junior officers would come to my office with challenges and ask me what they should do about it.  Depending on the urgency, my usual response was, “What does the instruction or PUB tell you to do?”  Read the instruction and come back to see me with a recommendation.  Excellence starts with building knowledge. 
    • Excellence is our obligation. Do you C.A.R.E. enough to achieve it?