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The Navy Chief Petty officer: Manager and Leader in one

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The Navy Chief Petty Officer: Manager and Leader in One

Damien Len Benton

Liberty University


In the business world, there are leaders and managers. While there is no job in the business world that allows you to do both, there is a career in the military that allows you to, being a Chief Petty Officer. This paper will show how through Navy training and experience, a hybrid leader and manager in one are created. The ability be a leader and manager at the same time is something rarely in the business world, and can be beneficial to a company. The Navy Chief is given the unique role of not only providing leadership to junior sailors and junior officers above him, but to also manage different functions that are given to him on a daily basis.

The Navy Chief Petty Officer: Manager and Leader in One

The Chief Petty Officer, or CPO, has a unique job in the Navy. They are expected to be a leader the day they put on their CPO anchors, or collar devices, and be able to manage everything that is given to them. A CPO is molded early in their career as a junior Petty Officer to become a leader and manager through performance, job accomplishment and initiative. Having this type of person creates an asset in the business world because this person cannot only perform the job of a manager, but also an executive level leader. This is proven by deckplate leadership and hands on management, creating a hybrid leader beneficial to any company or organization

Deckplate Leadership of the Chief Petty Officer

The Navy defines leadership as: "the art of influencing people to progress towards the accomplishment of a specific goal" (Garner, 1990, p. 5-1). "Forged from the Deckplates" is a motto that all Chief Petty Officers in the U.S. Navy live by. What this phrase says is that a CPO is made from the bottom up. The Navy creates leaders through many opportunities, some big, some small, but always leaving room to develop.

As a Leading Chief Petty Officer of a division, a CPO will lead his junior personnel, between 5 to 20 people, everyday and is responsible for not only their job accomplishment and tasking, but also their well-being. He must ensure that he guides the people that work for him, to reach the command's end goal or vision. Abraham Lincoln commented on his relieving General John Fremont, in 1861 from his command: "His cardinal mistake is that he isolates himself, and allows nobody to see him; and by which he does not know what is going on in the very matter he is dealing with" (Phillips, 2012, p. 13). Abraham Lincoln was talking about "Deckplate Leadership". That is, being in the middle of everything that is happening and having as much situational awareness that is needed to handle a situation. That is the only true way to judge the progress that is being made and to ensure that a leader is performing their job.

Duty as a Navy Recruit Division Commander, or drill instructor, is another way that a CPO proves his leadership ability. Every 8 weeks, a CPO and 2 petty officers are given 88 new civilians to mold into trained sailors ready to accomplish their mission onboard ships. The CPO not only has to train and indoctrinate the new 88 recruits, but to lead the 2 petty officers in the accomplishment of training. The reason why this form of leading is so important is because it implements the use of transactional and transformational leadership. A Chief must be a transactional leader by not only defining the Navy's goals to the new recruits and give them the plan to attain their goals, but by also understanding the principles of leadership and applying the principles in real time, to achieve the Navy's mission. As a transformational leader, a CPO must show charisma and emotional intelligence to be able to gain the trust of the recruits. A CPO must know his subordinates as he knows his family and know what emotional cues there are, and use them to achieve the mission.

The most unique thing about a Chief Petty Officer is the responsibility of training the officers they may work for in the future. This is one leadership situation that is almost impossible to find in the business world, leading those you work for.

It's an unusual relationship. Business managers aren't expected to develop their executives;

carpenters or plumbers aren't expected to develop their foremen; and ballplayers aren't

responsible for the professional growth of their coaches and managers. Only in the sea

services do we readily and willingly take responsibility for the development of our own

leaders (Hagan & Leahy, 2004, p. 213).

This form of leadership has not been found in any business role in society today. This quality of a CPO is so important, that it is a core competency that is learned during the Chief Induction process.

These values are what make a CPO a great leader. He can lead from the "battlefield", lead big groups and still have the mindset to be able to focus on a mission, and be able to lead and train those who are senior to him. "Military leadership is defined as influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation, while operating to accomplish the mission and improve the organization" (Ellyson, Gibson, Nichols and Doerr, 2012). The CPO is a leader who is given leadership opportunities on a daily basis and will ensure that they get the most from their personnel.

Hands on Management

Management can be defined as "the art of integrating human, economic and technical resources to attain a goal" (Garner, 1990, p. 1-2). Integrating all of this together can be very crucial in the success of a business or organization. A manager will be the glue that binds this theory to progress, in the Navy, this is the Chief. Management contains many functions, which are planning, organizing, leading and controlling, and sometimes staffing. "Management and the disposition of personnel and material assets are the chief's domain. Do you need a part, a school, special liberty, or career advice? "Ask the chief!" always has been the standard response,



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