I normally update on Monday, but I decided that it’s worth it to wait 24 hours for this special post. Happy April 1st, everyone. Here’s some timely advice for our eager new leaders:
Establish Your Authority. Reporting to your new division is like reporting to prison, and if you don’t immediately make it clear that you’re in charge, your sailors will take advantage of you for the remainder of your tour. Making abrupt changes can be an effective way to communicate authority, so don’t delay if you see an opportunity to switch things up. Most importantly, if your sailors protest, you must immediately remind them that you outrank them. It helps if you point to your collar device.
Take Your Time in Quals. The personnel qualification system is self-paced. This means that you should never feel rushed to get through it. When you feel that you’ve put in a reasonable work day, take off; your qualifications will ultimately take care of themselves. Also, when you’re studying, ensure you can recall every detail of the associated system or procedure before you pursue a checkout– you can’t possibly expect to stand a good EOOW if you forget the ratio of Curtis to Rateau stages in a propulsion turbine.
Don’t Let the Wardroom Make a Fool of You. The other officers may expect new Ensigns to perform denigrating, menial tasks for their convenience or entertainment. Telling jokes at the table, or planning a wardroom outing are examples. Much like establishing your authority to your division, you must establish to your Wardroom that you do not play games like that. Refuse to participate, and they’ll come to understand that you are just as tough and smart as they are, and they will respect you as an equal.
Do Not Seek or Accept Help. You probably come from a world where enough hard work and study could overcome any problem. There is no reason this world would be any different. Accepting assistance or advice is tantamount to admitting that you are inadequate for the job.
Make Lots of New Policies. A Division Officer should be a fountain of new ideas for their sailors to execute. Keeping them coming is much more important than following the old ones through—if the idea is good, it’ll stick. When you have an idea, don’t get bogged down in the practicalities, or allow the naysayers to curb your creativity. Make it an order, and let your subordinates worry about the details.
Create New Paperwork. You have spent years mastering the arts of Word and Excel, and it would be a crying shame to let all that skill go to waste. There is almost no problem for which a new checklist, binder, or tracker is not the appropriate solution. It costs nothing to create, and will likely remain forever after you leave. What better way to leave your mark?
Lead Through E-Mail. E-mail allows you to demonstrate your intellect and vocabulary in a safe setting where the potential for negative feedback is all but eliminated. As an extra tip, including all of your collateral duties in your email signature will remind everyone how hard you work, and they’ll respect you more for this.
Don’t Waste Time in the Spaces. Commensurate with the previous items, there’s really no reason for you to be in the spaces with the sailors and equipment. As an Officer, your job is to manage and create paperwork. If you’re conversing with your sailors or poking around their work areas when you could be tapping away at a keyboard, then you clearly misunderstand your duties.
Release Your Emotions. The advice they give in couples counseling is no less appropriate on a warship; if something is bothering you, don’t bottle it up inside. Yelling and screaming are very efficient ways to communicate sincerity.
Always Be the Smartest Guy in the Room. If you want to receive proper credit for your innate intelligence, it’s important that the right answer in any situation ultimately comes from you. If someone else offers a suitable answer, it is prudent to regurgitate a slightly altered version of their answer so that you are credited with the solution.
Always Get Permission. Avoiding the potential to be yelled at is always more important than getting the job done. If the CO is off the boat and you need his permission for something but can’t get him on the phone, don’t hesitate to ask through voice-mail.
Only Task Your Best Guys. If you want the important jobs to be done well, give them all to the same person. The other sailors will be jealous of their elevated responsibility, and will step up their game accordingly.
Only Work on Your Favorite Projects. Your boss is not in a position to really understand what is important, so you must resist their efforts to steer your intellectual firepower. Also, remember to frequently assess your programs for any major weak areas. Your best bet is to ignore these.
Withhold Information. You will be the only source of a great deal of information that is relevant to your sailors’ lives. You must carefully guard your privileged access. If you can maintain a veil of mystery around important information, they will come to view you as a mighty and powerful wizard.
Establish Pecking Order in the Wardroom. Once you have a few months on board, you will be responsible for providing guidance and structure to the next batch of Ensigns to report. In all likelihood, they will be lazy and stupid. Remind them of this frequently, and never pass on an opportunity to bring your vast operational experience into the conversation.
Crush Your Competition. Remember that nothing, nothing is more indicative of your worth as a human being than your FITREP. If you suspect that one of your rivals may be making a mistake, you must allow or even help them to fail spectacularly, as this will make you look better in comparison, improving your rankings.