When I was first approached to write a review on a book or books that have influenced me as a leader, two immediately came to mind. The first is about leadership, specifically how to motivate team members to take action and deliver results. The second is a historical case study of how an organization executed transformational change. Surface naval officers flow back and forth between operational and organizational roles. In executing the Surface Force Strategy, as leaders we must have the capability and capacity to deliver results, both operationally and organizationally. Both books show how we can do just that - deliver results.
Start With Why
Starting with the simple premise, “People don’t believe what you do, they believe in why you do it,” Simon Sinek begins a journey which shows how great leaders raise the performance of their teams by inspiring action, and not by direction. This premise is important as every organization can articulate what they do, and good organizations can articulate how they do what they do, but only great organizations can articulate why they do what they do. Commanding officers of our warships must able to articulate the why to their crews if we are to find success in the movement towards transformational operational change enabling our surface combatants to execute our two core naval functions, sea control and power projection - our what.
The Fast Carriers: The Forging of an Air Navy
The second book I would propose is 'The Fast Carriers'. This quick read charts the transition of why, how and what our aviation brethren executed before and during WWII to transform how our Navy established sea control and projected power. A fascinating breakdown of how to execute transformational organizational change, the book follows the careers of the 5 primary types of leaders the organization focused on: administrative reformers, founding champions, thinkers, fighters, and builders.