Virtual Roundtable Notes (May 6, 2016)
Developing a Leadership or Command Philosophy
Lieutenant Commander Charlotte Mundy
- Know your own leadership style well enough to communicate it
- Rely on your leadership philosophy; constantly refer to it and use it as a tool to communicate expectations
- Clarity provided by leadership philosophy can be incredibly helpful for leaders and their subordinates (this could be translated to an academic setting in thinking about preparing faculty for leadership positions)
- Leadership is hard; particularly because we generally try to get a diverse group of people with different ideas. Takes a lot of thought and energy, but if it was easy, then everyone would be a leader. It’s okay to recognize and acknowledge that. When you have successes, take that much more delight in them because you’re doing something hard.
- Similarities: Constant turnover and “brand new off the street” similar to college students
- Differences: Coast Guard (CG) has a very specific and well-defined mission; very teamwork-oriented
- Things to consider when writing your leadership philosophy
- Important to think about who your audience is and who you will apply your leadership philosophy to
- Think about your own style and how you lead people; really have to define that before you put words to paper; very personal statement, must know how you lead
- The writing of the philosophy is just as important as the philosophy itself. Helps you clarify and structure your thoughts and reflect your personality
- Also helps people you are leading. Let’s them know what to expect from you; “steadies the relationship”
Do you share your philosophy in a print version to people you command so they always have access to it or do you just communicate verbally?
CG teaches us to do this; don’t require it, but part of the culture. Every command I’ve ever been to has had one and it’s physically posted all over the ship. Visible reminder of why we’re here and why we’re doing these things.
Your philosophy has a section about your commitment to the ship and shipmates (not present in others). Is that unique to you?
Particular to me. First philosophy I wrote in 2002, it was very bland, cookie-cutter and not reflective of my leadership style. By 2008-09 had more leadership experience and more comfortable with my style and able to talk about it. Felt right for me to share why I thought this was important. I want to be a person to them, not just a captain. I’m not a typical CG officer; different experiences and background. Owed it to the crew to be able to understand me better.
Idea of leading from the middle or wherever you happen to be in organizational structure. Would you change how you present yourself/style if context changes so that you’re managing/leading up as well as down?
Sometimes in a place where we’re not responsible for command philosophy; in situation where you’re supporting someone else’s command philosophy. Can be hard if you don’t understand the other person’s philosophy, until you get to know them better. Can be really hard; constant communication with captain is important (daily basis). Constant, but casual. Open and clear, but constant, communications between all levels of leadership.
Charlotte’s philosophy: appreciate the commitment section; similar to section in syllabus about what students could expect from us. Appreciate the part about being open and willing to accept feedback. Structure in academia is not so hierarchical. What can I learn from this and apply to my own context (open up to group discussion)?
- Hierarchy of hospital/medical field can be similar. Communication is much more important because situation of patient can change quickly (this is especially true in ICU); definite hierarchy with physicians at top.
- With students: having something in syllabus which explains what they can expect from you and also what you expect of them
- With faculty: try to let them take the lead and come to me when they decide they want to do something (don’t really have authority, just job to help)
Preparing faculty for leadership roles (maybe doing some department chair training)
- Speech shared was really inspiring. Thinking about this conversation and the three philosophies: we don’t really prepare faculty to step into leadership situations; and often they don’t even think about it as leadership, but rather service. Discussions of struggling to adapt to former leaders because they were not very clear/structured in their leadership approach. Thinking of creating some type of leadership development for faculty leaders and having them develop their own leadership philosophy for clarity.
- Question about buy-in from chairs: they have a lot to do. Will they see the value of something like this? Perhaps writing the philosophy will help them see the value. The time that you spend focusing on that stuff helps in the long run.
- Sometimes faculty in leadership positions are uncomfortable with the title or authority.
Large center with people who may not be in a leadership role within the center, but are leaders in the institution on teaching. Trying to think about leadership development for someone without a specific leadership title. Would writing the leadership philosophy still have potential for those individuals?
Any time you interact with other people, that’s an aspect of leadership. Just the exercise of going through and understanding your own values, writing them down, and speaking them. Understand why they’re important to you and what they mean to you to helps you understand what you value and how you interact with others. Will follow through in your actions and help you build that trust. Become known as a solid participant within the group and let others know what they can expect from you.
How to empower someone who is not empowered within the academy and who is afraid (example of adjunct sitting on search committees and being afraid to speak up was presented)?
Illustrates the importance of establishing your own leadership/command philosophy. Helps you decide which battles to fight and which to let go. If you don’t do the groundwork, you might feel like everything is a battle when maybe it doesn’t have to be.
One specific action people will take as a result of this session
- I am going to ask (not this quarter, but fall) our student assistants to write a work philosophy.
- One specific action that is not an action: I want to think about how I can incorporate this discussion into my planning of a leadership workshop.
- Work on a leadership philosophy and compare it to my teaching philosophy.
- I think revisiting my leadership philosophy statement (about 3-4 years old) might be called for. Love the convo and examples as fodder.
- Next step - we have an annual PD day (staff retreat). I'd like the next one to focus on our leadership - I love the term "command swagger".
- Put a philosophy in writing. I have lots of bits and pieces in different places - need to gather them together and make something coherent
- Go through the grid on the last slide of the powerpoint and then write a philosophy statement from that.
(Charlotte’s comments) CG does a really good job of pushing leadership down to the lowest forms and taking leadership from wherever we find it. But it also forces us to recognize that there are many different ways of leading.
Participants commenting that this discussion will push them to be more intentional about their own leadership in the future.
Writing the leadership philosophy also helps one make the transition to a leadership role; declare that “I am a leader and this is what I’m going to do with it”. This can be especially true for faculty developers trying to make transition from a helping role to more of a leadership role.
The speech was about defining aspects of what leadership is. The statements felt like more statements for shared values or hope for shared values. This was appealing. Not always what you see when you read statements of philosophy.
Lots of love for the speech. Many found it emotional and inspiring.
Extra resources provided in the pre-webinar materials
Read and Review
- A Sailor’s Perspective on the United States Army, Admiral William H. McRaven, Address to the Class of 2015, 500th Night, January 18, 2014.
- Command Philosophy, J. M. Carter, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard
- Command Philosophy, Charlotte Mundy, Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Coast Guard
- Command Philosophy, Jeffrey K. Randall, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard