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CHIPS Articles: CNO Identifies 4 Core Attributes to Guide Navy Leaders

CNO Identifies 4 Core Attributes to Guide Navy Leaders
By Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs - December 7, 2015
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- In his latest podcast, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson discussed what he describes as the Navy 'core attributes.'

Building on the Navy's core values, the attributes of integrity, accountability, initiative, and toughness serve as guiding criteria for decisions and actions by leaders up and down the chain of command.

Below are highlights from the podcast:

Q: What is the purpose of identifying these core attributes?

A: Militaries in general and Navies in particular are most effective when operating with decentralized command structures. We expect that when a commander and their team get their orders, they will deploy and execute their mission. The key is trust and confidence, both up, down, and across the chain of command. So, if we're going to have trust and confidence, which is absolutely essential to decentralized command, it stands that we have an agreed upon set of attributes that allow us to achieve behavior consistent with those values.

Q: Can you describe each of these attributes?

A: Integrity -
I see integrity as having two dimensions. One is personal integrity, where each of our core values aligns with honor, courage, and commitment. We also have to extend beyond ourselves and actively strengthen our shipmates' integrity as well. That's the individual dimension. There is an institutional dimension of integrity and our behaviors as an organization need to be consistent with the values that we profess.

A: Accountability -
One of the things that I truly love about being in the Navy is that we are a mission focused force. We set aggressive goals and stretch goals, and we hold ourselves accountable to achieve those goals. As part of our practice we are going to build in an assessment strategy so we can measure our progress toward our goals. And we have to be our own worst critic and make adjustments as required so that we can achieve those ends that we set about achieving.

A: Initiative -
This goes toward each of our Sailors, particularly our leaders, exercising their authority to the fullest extent possible. This is absolutely fundamental to being effective in decentralized operations. Furthermore, even down to the most junior Sailor, we've got to recognize that the best idea or the best question might come from the most junior person in the group, so we've got to have a good sense of respect for that, and not let our structure or our seniority get in the way of someone else demonstrating initiative and coming forward with a good idea or a thoughtful question.

A: Toughness -
This is a fundamental attribute to any military force or any team. Really, it's just our ability to take a hit, recover and keep going. To do this, we have to tap all our sources of strength. Whether that's the strength provided by rigorous training, the strength provided by encouragement from our shipmates and the fighting spirit of our people, the strength provided by our families reaching out to us-there are many many sources of strength and inspiration. In the end we don't give up the ship, and that's a measure of our toughness and resilience.

Q: What are the next steps for these core attributes?

A: This is just the first of many opportunities that I'm going to take to talk about our core values and these core attributes. I think that they're so fundamental to maintaining trust and confidence, both within the Navy and between the Navy and the American public that we almost can't talk about these too much. I would hope that everyone take the time to appreciate what they are, know them, and then judge their behaviors according to these attributes. How we inculcate these into our formal training pipeline, our career development training, and our leadership development programs remains to be seen. I don't want this to be condensed down to some kind of an acronym or anything like that, because then it becomes a superficial discussion. We need to be thinking about these deeply each and every day.

The CNO's full podcast can be found online and on iTunes.

Official U.S. Navy file photo
Official U.S. Navy file photo
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