Top enlisted sailor ‘Lays the Keel’ on new enlisted leadership initiative
By MARCUS FICHTL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 3, 2018
CHINHAE NAVAL BASE, South Korea — Certified instructors and refocusing on character are part of a new leadership program launched by the Navy’s top enlisted sailor during a tour of 7th Fleet bases in the Indo-Pacific region.
The initiative, dubbed “Laying the Keel: Developing the Backbone of our Navy,” marks the first significant change since 2011 to how the service trains its enlisted leaders.
“We started to realize ... this character piece in developing leaders wasn’t as robust,” Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano said during a recent all-hands call at Chinhae Naval Base.
A Navy white paper followed by a year of surveys and focus groups found that competency and job knowledge were acceptable, but there was a problem with how young sailors were being taught to lead, Giordano said.
He said the program was born out of sailors’ wants, not his office.
“This is the U.S. Navy enlisted sailor’s initiative that they have proposed forward,” he said.
Currently, training courses for petty officers — the middle ranks of the Navy’s enlisted — are done in-house without certified instructors. That’s changing.
“The critical piece in it all is you’ve got to have somebody — up in front of you — in that room who can actually facilitate the curriculum,” Giordano said during a stop in Chinhae as part of an 18-day tour that began April 24 in Guam.
Navy officials said a pilot program is underway and the new curriculum should be online by January.
Giordano said they are also reimagining the final push to the vaunted Navy chief petty officer rank by revamping the leadership training events and seminars continuously hosted by local commands.
The new version — called Sailor 360 — will also be rolled out in “Laying the Keel.” It replaces CPO 365.
“Sailor 360, to be honest with you, is really the vision that was intended for CPO 365,” he said.
The leadership and scenario-based training, Giordano said, had typically been dominated by chiefs and senior petty officers, but ignored the more junior ranks.
He said all ranks – officer and enlisted – will be invited to participate in Sailor 360.
Giordano told Stars and Stripes after the all-hands call that he hopes an ethos of ownership will come from this program and take over the Navy.
“Too often we look to the external to find the answer first, when it’s much easier to find the answer when you look into the internal first,” he said.
He hopes those answers will be found once the new leadership programs hit full steam.
“I’m looking forward to how they will own this Sailor 360 process, what initiatives they will put forward and the impact it will have,” he said.