Flag Officers, Senior NCOs Offer Career Advice
By MC2 Kevin V. Cunningham, WRNMMC Command Communications
The forum, organized by the JOC, an organization of junior officers representing every branch of service promoting an environment of camaraderie and support, held the forum to provide an opportunity for career development through mentorship, leadership and stewardship with a desire to positively impact WRNMMC, Naval Support Activity Bethesda, and the off-base community.
During the two-hour forum, in addition to Lane, there were a number of panel members assembled that included: Air Force Maj. Gen. Dorothy A. Hogg, the Air Force deputy surgeon general and chief of the Air Force Nurse Corps; Navy Rear Adm. (Dr.) Colin G. Chinn, deputy director of the Defense Health Agency (DHA); Public Health Service Rear Adm. Joan Hunter, director, Commissioned Corps Personnel and Readiness in the Office of the Surgeon General; Army Brig. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, commanding Officer of Regional Health Command-Atlantic; retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston, who served as the 13th Sergeant Major of the Army from January 2004 to March 2011; and retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe Campa, who served as the 11th Master Chief Petty Officer of the U.S. Navy from June 2006 to December 2008. The panel members, with many many years of experience discussed the importance of sound leadership, the power of mentoring and offered advice and insight based off their extensive time serving in leadership roles.
Lane kicked off the forum thanking the panel members for their participation and reminded the diverse audience that leadership applies to all. “No matter if you’re a leader at the E-4 level or the O-10 level, your №1 job is to take care of your people,” said admiral.
Asked to distinguish between leading and managing, Hogg said, “Leadership is about influencing and management is about doing. They are not interchangeable but they are interdependent. You need to lead to the extent of setting the vision of where the unit needs to go and manage to the point of reaching it.”
Hunter followed along the same lines, stating, “The most important thing a leader can bring to a team is vision. The characteristics of a leader are the same wherever you go. Don’t ever compromise the attributes of a leader based off where you are.”
When asked to sum up his leadership methodology, Dingle stressed the need for leaders to remember how they got there. “No high-ranking officer gets there on [his or her] own. We rely on those above and below us. To forget that is a detriment to leading. It’s about the team and making sure we progress and lead together, not putting your rank or ego first, rather working for others.”
Chinn followed up adding, “As a senior leader, I work for everyone. I do everything in my power to make others succeed below me. Following this ‘servant leader’ philosophy creates a spirit of encouragement and empowers all those you work for. If my team does well, I do well.”
When a question from the audience directed toward the two senior enlisted panel members about how leadership has developed in their more than 20 years of service and where it needs to develop further, Campa stated, “I’ve seen a lot change throughout the years, but the one constant is that technology is always developing. The challenges of today’s leaders are to remain relevant to our younger service members using technology, but also to not rely solely on it. It is imperative to use the technology to complement our leadership but not to let it replace our voice.”
“We cannot forget the important role of mentorship in the service,” Preston said. “We all can look back at the impact mentors have had in our careers. While I was fortunate enough to have these leaders from an early start in my career, this was not as common as we have made it now. It is impressive and encouraging seeing the level of concern and guidance we provide, but it is still a personal imperative for all to reach out and find a mentor, and to mentor others with our life experiences.”
The panel was also asked about balancing life as a medical professional with that of a military leader. “Sometimes it’s difficult to take the step of leadership in a clinical atmosphere,” said Lane. “We spend a great amount of time qualifying in our field so the hesitation of taking a leadership position is understandable. Where you get empowered as a leader as opposed to solely being a clinician, is that you can impact the clinical performance and touch the lives of all the patients under your team’s care by being an effective clinical leader. You can do more for patients by leading the health-care team in that leadership role.”
Did you interview any of the attendees to find out the impact the forum may have had on them going forward in their careers?