Surface Warfare Magazine
Sharing stories and news from Sailors across the U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces
Motivation & Organization

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.


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In many cases leaders played multiple roles across time, shifting back and forth as the aviation community established Carrier Task Forces as our core element of naval combat power.

Moving Forward

As we implement the Surface Force Strategy lines of change (Tactics, Talent, Training and Tools), our leaders must be able to act with skill and finesse in both the operational and organizational environments. True change can only be accomplished with leaders who can articulate why in both environments. The great power competition we find ourselves in has renewed our why. Everything we do as the Surface Force is about controlling the sea and projecting power. We use predictive and reactive global deployments in order to limit regional competitors options for escalation. We accomplish this with credible combat power, provided by warships that operate in a distributed manner capable of defeating the first salvo, and then rapidly shifting to the offensive to deceive, target, and destroy enemy forces at sea and on land. I challenge my fellow, former and future commanding officers to read both these great books as we position our Navy for the future. Surface Warfare Magazine

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