CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS
April 6, 2018
The Charge of Command
Ref: (a) 10 U.S.C. §5947
(b) U.S. Navy Regulations (1990)
Encl: (1) ADM Ernest King CINCLANT Serial 053 of January 21, 1941
(2) Hobson’s Choice (Wall Street Journal, 1952)
The Privilege of Command
1. As a prospective or serving Commander or Commanding Officer, you have been identified as worthy of the privilege of command. The decision to select you for command was not made lightly; you were selected based on your demonstrated past performance and the trust and confidence that senior Navy officers have in you to lead Sailors under your charge.
2. Command is the foundation upon which our Navy rests. Authority, responsibility, accountability, and expertise are four essential principles at the heart of command. Effective command is at risk if any of these principles is lacking or out of balance.
3. You accept the extraordinary responsibility of command with full regard for its consequences. It is the duty of every Commanding Officer to understand his or her authorities and responsibilities prior to assuming command, which are clearly laid out in statute and regulations as outlined below.
The Scope of Command
1. “All Commanding Officers and others in authority in the naval service are required to show in themselves a good example of virtue, honor, patriotism, and subordination; to be vigilant in inspecting the conduct of all persons who are placed under their command; to guard against and suppress all dissolute and immoral practices, and to correct, according to the laws and regulations of the Navy, all persons who are guilty of them; and to take all necessary and proper measures, under the laws, regulations, and customs of the naval service, to promote and safeguard the morale, the physical well-being, and the general welfare of the officers and enlisted persons under their command or charge.” (Ref (a))
2. “Commanders shall be responsible for the satisfactory accomplishment of the mission and duties assigned to their commands. Their authority shall be commensurate with their responsibilities. Normally, commanders shall exercise authority through their immediate subordinate commanders.” (Ref (b), Paragraph 0702)
3. “The responsibility of the Commanding Officer for his or her command is absolute, except when, and to the extent to which, he or she has been relieved therefrom by competent authority, or as provided otherwise in these regulations. The authority of the Commanding Officer is commensurate with his or her responsibility. While the
Commanding Officer may, at his or her discretion, and when not contrary to law or regulations, delegate authority to subordinates for the execution of details, such delegation of authority shall in no way relieve the commanding officer of continued responsibility for the safety, well-being and efficiency of the entire command.” (Ref (b), Paragraph 0802)
The Standards of Command
1. There are two standards to measure officers in command. The first is the standard for criminal behavior, which should be well known to you. The second — and higher standard — is trust and confidence, both with the American people we are sworn to protect and across all levels of the chain-of-command.
2. A Commander’s competence and character lead to trust and confidence. Commanders can only feel comfortable delegating their authority — sending subordinate Commanding Officers and their teams over the horizon and into harm’s way — with the knowledge that those CO’s are both technically competent and share their values. If so, their teams will win — performing at or near their theoretical limits — and they will always come back stronger than when they left.
3. Trust and confidence are the two coins of the realm that enable decentralized command and operations at sea; they are the key to our effectiveness as a force. Work hard to build and guard trust and confidence
The Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, Version 2.0 (Design 2.0) makes clear that our Navy faces a competitive security environment unlike the past 25 years. Prevailing in an environment with this pace and complexity demands agility and urgency. It also demands maximum performance from our most important asset: our Sailors.
In support of Design 2.0, we will be a dominant naval force, composed of outstanding leaders and teams, armed with the best equipment, that learns and adapts faster than our rivals. Every person and every unit in the Navy will maximize their potential and be ready for decisive combat operations.
To win, our leaders must enable our teams to think more clearly, learn more rapidly, and make better decisions more quickly and more accurately than our adversaries. We must create opportunities to become better leaders and to make our teams stronger. We must be engaged leaders laser-focused on building winning people and teams.
As effective Navy leaders, we must demonstrate a deliberate commitment to grow personally and professionally throughout our careers. We work from a foundation of humility, embracing our core values of honor, courage, and commitment. We pursue excellence in accordance with our core attributes of integrity, accountability, initiative, and toughness. We commit to improving competence, character, and connections in ourselves and in our teams. We set ambitious goals and then inspire our teams to achieve the best possible performance.
Serving as a leader in America’s Navy requires a dedicated and coherent approach that starts on day one and continues throughout our careers. The Navy Leadership Development Framework describes how to achieve this imperative.
WHY LEADER DEVELOPMENT 3.0?
The Navy Leadership Development Framework is being updated to Version 3.0 for two key reasons:
First, the Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority has been updated to Version 2.0. Design 2.0 contains bold and ambitious new goals, including goals that affect leader development. Because the Framework is tied to the Design, it should be updated to account for where we are today.
Second, the two lanes—character and competence—from NLDF 2.0 are being expanded to include a third lane: connections. When we deepen and expand our connections, we learn faster and build the resilience that leads to toughness. We also
improve information-sharing across the Navy, which is critical in a rapidly changing environment. We strengthen the bonds of trust and confidence. In this document, we outline how our Navy will develop leaders who demonstrate operational excellence, strong character, and resilience through community at every level of seniority. The specifics of leader development will be shaped by community leaders to be consistent with this Framework, but the fundamental concepts discussed in this Framework apply to the entire Navy Team. Read it, talk about it, and put it to use.
CHARACTER – COMPETENCE – CONNECTIONS
When we imagine our truly world-class leaders—those consistently at the top of the pack, victorious in our most challenging contests—we see that they embody an essential quality:
Navy leaders inspire us to relentlessly chase “best ever” performance. They study, innovate, experiment, practice, sustain, seize every moment, expend every effort—all to outfox our competition.
They connect, communicate, challenge, train, and recover with us. Our Navy leaders are humble; they are open to our meaningful feedback. They are ready to learn and make all of us better. When they win, they are grateful, and spent from their effort.
Navy leaders form our teams into a community, with a deeply shared commitment, dedicated to the pursuit of victory.
We all need to be Navy leaders, and we must all have this drive. Each of us must ask an important question: Are we ready to dedicate ourselves to pursue “best ever” performance? If the answer is yes, we can be a Navy leader. The stakes are too high, and the security of the nation is too important. We must serve at our limits and inspire others to be the best in the world.
THREE LANES ON THE PATH
Keeping this inspiration and drive as our North Star, our Navy approaches leader development by traveling down a path with three lanes. The farther we travel down the path, the more accomplished we become as leaders.
Lane 1 develops operational and warfighting competence. We must become experts at our jobs as we grow. An incompetent leader is a recipe for disaster.
Lane 2 develops character. We must continuously strengthen our ability to behave consistently with our core values of honor, courage, and commitment. This keeps us worthy to lead our Sailors.
Lane 3 develops intellectual and personal connections. Intellectual connections improve competence by sharing mental models, comparing notes, improving our ability to anticipate our teammates’ next move. Personal connections strengthen our character and resilience by building relationships. We share what we experience, and seek to understand what’s going on in others’ lives. Not only in mind, but in body and spirit as well. Personal connections—relationships—should certainly expand and deepen within our Navy Team, but can and should also include our families, our friends, our churches, our health clubs, and other communities. Personal and intellectual connections are essential to achieving the highest levels of performance.
As junior leaders, at the beginning of the path, development is biased toward individual competence, personal character, and building connections between a new leader and their team and with other junior leaders. We learn basic individual and team skills, and we learn to lead ourselves. We find mentors.
As we mature as leaders, and move further down the path, leader development becomes less about our individual performance and skill, and more about strengthening the performance and character of our teams, and deepening our connections within the team and with other leaders.
It bears repeating: Senior leaders are judged by the performance and character of their teams. The standard for personal performance and character remains extremely high—this is a given. What distinguishes senior leaders is their ability to consistently and sustainably inspire our teams to constantly improve, to continuously perform at “best ever” levels, and to win. To do this effectively, we must build strong connections with other leaders and teams. A senior leader who is not connected to others will become a liability, will be too weak to withstand challenges, and will risk moving all of us away from our goal.
Near the end of the path, a Navy leader comes to embody the Navy’s competence to execute our mission, the Navy’s character to behave consistently with our values, and the Navy’s connections with our Sailors and the American people. A senior leader and the Navy are seen as one.
A QUICK WORD ABOUT COMPLIANCE AND CREATIVITY
It’s not uncommon for discussions to frame the matters of compliance and creativity as being in tension—operational creativity can be seen in opposition to procedural compliance. A fully-developed approach to leadership, however, must recognize the value of both compliance and creativity. Properly, they reinforce each other. We must know the fundamental, even physical elements of the trade in order to improvise safely and effectively. Compliance precedes and then leads to creativity.
If we reduce leadership to either compliance or creativity, we limit our effectiveness and cede advantage to the enemy. As Navy leaders, we must create space for creativity and we must also understand the unique and irreplaceable importance of compliance. Compliance and creativity must both be nurtured in a top-performing team. The science of war is the soil in which the art of war takes root and grows.
THREE METHODS TO PROGRESS DOWN THE PATH
Our journey of leader development starts with our internal drive to bring a team to “best ever” levels of performance. This drives us down the path and its three lanes—competence, character, and connections. To aid progress down this path, the Navy has three approaches that, when combined, offer a rich environment for growth:
- Schools that offer education and certification
- On-the-job training and qualification in our workspaces
- Self-guided learning through reading and other forms of self-study
These three venues—formal schools, on-the-job training, and self-guided learning—move us forward in our development as leaders. Navy leaders progress along the general paths shown in Appendices 1 and 2. Each community has its own specifically tailored plan to develop leaders according to these paths.
Self-guided learning doesn’t require solitude. There is much to gain from taking college courses at night or online, attending lectures, joining professional societies, or participating in innovation opportunities. The intensity of our self-guided learning efforts is perhaps the most direct reflection of our drive to be the best leaders possible. Leaders with the passion to make ourselves and our teams the best do not wait for formal training or formal avenues—we get to it on our own.
We begin to become familiar in our chosen fields through formal accession and initial skill-centered schools. This is followed by on-the-job training (including qualifications and milestones, scenario-based and technical training, and operations), and self-study activities that develop and deepen our technical expertise. Up to the level of Major Command or its equivalent, each community provides a specific program aimed at producing operational experts.
Schools: At each step in our career paths, we can expect to receive a combination of formal schooling and training. Formal education at the entry levels includes recruit and officer candidate training, more advanced A-schools, and officer warfare schools. As our careers progress, these schools are followed by additional formal education opportunities at every stage of leadership.
On-the-job training: On-the-job training, to include achieving qualifications, is a blend of command training, coaching, encouragement, and self-motivation. Each successive qualification is an important step.
Self-guided learning: To be world-class leaders, Sailors must strive on their own to expand on the knowledge provided in schools and on-the-job training. Once they have achieved the qualifications expected for a tour, they should look for opportunities to gain additional qualifications. They study the history of their profession. They learn their shipmate’s job. They learn their boss’s job. They prepare themselves for the unexpected. The CNO’s Professional Reading Program provides a jumping-off point to build knowledge about competence, character, and connections—free, online access can be found at: http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/CNOReadingProgram/
We should read, cross-train, and build our breadth of experience at every opportunity. This is what will keep us the best Navy in the world.
Character development also consists of formal schools, on-the-job training, and self-study. The Naval War College supports our Navy’s character education and training; they help integrate the competence, character, and connections lanes into a coherent path of leader development. The College will exercise this responsibility in partnership with other parts of the Navy—including community leaders (TYCOMs) and operational commands—coordinating and supporting their leader development efforts.
Schools: Entry-level schools lay the foundation for character by making our institutional values and expectations clear. Within the enlisted community, each successive promotion includes local classes that consist of formal lectures, small group discussions, and coaching. For our senior most enlisted, these classes are capped off by the Senior Enlisted Academy, which is guided by the goals established in “Laying the Keel.” Officers participate in entry-level character development and receive further education at the Naval Leadership & Ethics Center, the College of Leadership and Ethics at the Naval War College, and as part of formal courses at every level from Division Officer to Major Command.
On-the-job training: Every day, we put what we learn into practice. There are a multitude of opportunities to strengthen each other’s character. In both formal and informal settings, we should take time to discuss the importance of integrity and accountability. Character applies in an operational setting—it’s not just for the classroom. The best leaders mention it at pre-execution briefs, during execution, and during debriefs. We get out in front and help our teammates avoid bad decisions, which reflects the power of connections. The strongest messages come through our personal examples.
Self-guided learning: Self-study is also important in character development. There’s so much to absorb by reading books, articles, and blogs. The CNO’s Professional Reading Program, mentioned previously, is just one of many tools available to help us take charge of our own leader development. As we all can discover new ideas that help us build winning teams of character, some of us may choose to further contribute by writing and sharing experiences or insights. Such initiatives help the entire Navy.
EXPANDING AND DEEPENING CONNECTIONS
Highly-connected teams build commitment and toughness by developing a sense of belonging and cohesion. This increases the level of energy and effort we bring to our mission. Connections expand our competence and strengthen our character. Connectedness supports competence by allowing team members to better understand professional developments within the Navy. It allows us to share experiences, learn from each other, and develop levels of common understanding that make us better able to operate as teams, even when we are separated in space and time.
Connectedness supports character by fostering an environment of trust, where team members freely discuss mistakes in order to get better. Connections enable honest assessment and feedback, promoting rapid learning. Connectedness also allows us to anticipate the needs of others and bolster social relationships. It enables us to support each other professionally and personally. It makes us more resilient as individuals and teams through the trials that inevitably arise. Just as with competence and character, connections are fostered in formal schools, in on-the-job training, and in self-study.
Schools: Formal schools set the conditions for connections to develop among peer groups, teachers, and mentors. Whether it’s initial accessions training or more advanced formal schooling, the shared experiences in formal schools encourage connections: Schools can be one of the earliest places in which connections develop.
Teachers set some of our first examples as leaders. They facilitate relationships, both with them and with others. They show us how to lead through an open exchange of an ideas. We, as classmates, learn from and help one another. The mental models taught in formal schools allow team members to approach new challenges with a common frame of reference. That common view allows us to respond in ways that are consistent with those of our teammates.
On-the-job training: Continued training within individual units increases both the breadth and depth of the connections we forge in formal schooling. As our relationships deepen, they lead to unit cohesion—the force that compels teammates to commit to one another every day. The connections promoted by on-the-job training allow teams to best execute the Plan, Practice, Perform, Progress, and Promulgate (P5) cycle through an open and supportive climate. We should think carefully about the means we use to connect, ensuring they match our particular circumstances. Just as the increasing rate of technological creation and adoption affects the global security environment, technological changes also affect the ways we connect with one another. Social media and other technologies provide easier means to connect over long distances, but taken too far, they can also foster feelings of isolation. Leadership is a human endeavor. Technology has its place, but it is often a poor substitute for person-to-person connections.
Self-guided learning: Connectedness is one area where self-directed development can be most useful. We can and should make connections in many ways. We have many places to cultivate connections: our families, our friends, our faith, our hobbies and interests, and our profession. All serve to strengthen our commitment and toughness, and to serve as a source of strength, insight, and comfort for others. Finally, as described in “One Navy Team” at the end of this Framework, our teams are the strongest when they are diverse. Diverse groups make more effective decisions in matters of competence and more ethical decisions in matters of character. We can’t understand what is in our shipmate’s head if we are closed to others’ points of view or life experiences. Our competitive advantage as Sailors will be in creativity, innovation, and agility—all allowing us to make better decisions in combat.
MENTORSHIP AND ADVOCACY
A discussion about leader development must address mentors. Much of what’s been discussed so far has been about teachers, coaches, and trainers. Teachers focus on transferring knowledge from themselves to their students. Coaches and trainers develop operational habits and skills through “sets and reps”—drills and routines that perfect our habits. Mentors do all of the above and more, in a way that is more personal, involved, and longer term. This special connection helps protégés develop competency and character. Mentors probe deeply into their protégés’ strengths and weaknesses, challenging them to be more well-rounded and ever better.
Mentorship strengthens both the protégé and the mentor. When we mentor, we devote ourselves to our protégés’ growth and success. We transfer energy from within ourselves to our charges. We form productive mentor-protégé relationships when development comes from loyalty—from mentor to protégé and from protégé to mentor—beyond that of a teaching or coaching relationship. This is extremely important in leader development. The farther we travel down the three-lane path, the more valuable mentors can be. It’s important to seek opportunities to mentor and be mentored. These connections can be decisive.
Advocacy activity moves mentorship into the public sphere. By advocating for our protégés, we move into action. We scan the environment for professional opportunities (projects, jobs, workshops) for which our protégés would be well matched—where they would do well and also grow. But there’s more. We then contact the decision-makers for that opportunity—make a phone call, send an email, have a conversation—and recommend our protégé for the position. This active step is important, requiring a further degree of dedication on our part that makes our personal commitment public.
One last thought to close the circle: Consistent with the One Navy Team memo on diversity and inclusion, mentors and advocates should deliberately evaluate their groups of protégés. Are they a diverse group? Do they represent the true spectrum of talent and perspectives of the people we’re sworn to defend? To the protégés, mentors are a gateway to a new community, offering insight they could never acquire on their own. Mentors can ensure that newcomers to a group feel welcome and like they belong. To the community, mentors can demonstrate why their protégés deserve seats at the table. Therefore, as Navy leaders, we have a moral and strategic obligation to mentor a diverse population—and to ensure that they are connected. This supports their growth, the growth of our Navy, and our own growth as well.
The refinement and execution of strategies to implement this Framework are an essential next step. Each community lead, as designated by the Chief of Naval Personnel, will create a strategy to develop leaders up to Major Command or its equivalent. As directed in NLDF 1.0 and 2.0, each community lead will, on a semiannual basis, continue to brief its leader development program to the Chief of Naval Operations or Vice Chief of Naval Operations. The Naval War College and the emerging Navy University system will supplement and support each community in its leader development, and they will maintain a strategy for leader development beyond
Major Command. The Naval War College will also hold semi-annual briefs to the Chief of Naval Operations or Vice Chief of Naval Operations, to track the program’s progress.
World-class leadership is our Navy’s decisive advantage. First and foremost, Navy leaders must have a burning drive to develop people and teams who consistently and sustainably deliver maximum performance. The Navy has a robust program of schools, on-the-job training, and opportunities for self-guided learning. As we deliberately work to develop each aspect of leadership, over time, competence, character, and connectedness become three inseparable lanes of the path we travel. Moving down this path becomes the most challenging journey we can take as Navy leaders. Per Design 2.0, our Navy will produce leaders and teams who learn rapidly, make high quality decisions, and control the high end of maritime conflict. Following the path outlined in this Framework will get us there.