Fellow NOAA Corps officers,
One of the perks of being the CPC Director is the opportunity to open the bi-weekly Cyberflash with a Director's message. There are many NOAA Corps officers who have valuable leadership advice to share without a similar platform. Hence I will be affording this opportunity to my peers from time to time by inviting them to send a "guest" Director's message.
Captain Mark Wetzler joined the NOAA Corps via an interservice transfer from the Missouri Army National Guard in July of 1993. He had completed a bachelor's degree in Engineering Physics and was working on a master's degree in Mathematics at Southeast Missouri State University at the time of his transfer. His love of both science and service is what drove him to become a NOAA Corps officer. Over his career he has served aboard the NOAA Ships Malcolm Baldrige, Rainier, Fairweather, McArthur II, Ronald H. Brown and most recently as the Commanding Officer of Okeanos Explorer and Acting CO aboard Reuben Lasker. His shore assignments reflect his technical nature and include work as a mathematical modeler, hydrographic system support and development, chief of an IT group within the Marine Chart Division, Deputy Division Leader for the Ocean Environment Research Division at Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, and currently is the Chief of Program Planning and Services Division for Marine Operations.
Captain Wetzler's message:
The importance of a Command Philosophy
Officers who have worked with me over the years know my respect of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. I've used the book to mentor the wardrooms and chiefs of several vessels that I've sailed on over the years. Mr. Covey articulates many great lessons on leadership which have proven to be very effective in a shipboard environment. One of Covey's key lessons is "Begin with an end in mind." Having a command philosophy helps you to communicate what end you have in mind.
As Captain I routinely used my command philosophy to make decisions and justify decisions to the customers and crew. In order for this to work well your philosophy has to be repeatedly, continually, and concisely communicated to the wardroom, to the crew, and to the customers. It allows people around you to understand your priorities and how you make decisions. Additionally, your actions and decisions must match your philosophy. Credibility is key. Being philosophically consistent allows those around you to know what to expect from you and what is expected from them.
Below is an excerpt from my night orders from Okeanos Explorer on May 30, 2016.
Captain's Command Philosophy
My command philosophy has three factors in consideration: People, Platform, and Mission. The question is of balance, like a three legged stool. If you lean too far in any one direction, the stool becomes unstable. Without good people the mission cannot be done and the platform is pointless. Without the mission, the platform and people are not needed. If you lean too far toward the mission, the platform and people can be worn. It comes down to balance.
In terms of people, they need to be kept safe, developed, be respected, and work in a pleasant environment. Every individual has value. As we work out here for years on end, we have to trust each other and count on each other. The only way to do that is to be worthy of trust, to help, to share, and be present in the moment. Our happiness and safety depends on those around us. People work better and are healthier when they are happy and feel secure. In the end we should be a tribe/team/community with a purpose (Ikigai/Mission). Be there for one another and encourage good work and positivity … understand one another when things are difficult and stressful.
People, Platform, and Mission do not completely encapsulate all considerations. They are underpinned by Safety and Environmental compliance. If we care for people, we must keep them safe. As environmental stewards, we must keep the environment healthy. For me, keeping people healthy is not just doing safe recovery and deployments; it is making sure that people live long and healthy lives. That is why I push for people to have real food options available (true ice cream, true maple syrup), that people are reminded to wear personal protective equipment, and that the toxins that we are exposed to are as limited as they can be (changing from aluminum cookware to stainless steel).
It is not enough to be given a position to lead, one has to be worthy of leading. That means preparing and doing the hard work to take care of the people, the platform, and the mission while keeping people safe and the environment healthy. This is what our team is entrusted to do. Contribute and be worthy.
Thank you Captain Wetzler for sharing your command philosophy with the NOAA Corps!
CAPT Devin Brakob, NOAA
Director, Commissioned Personnel Center
|11 Dec 2018||Officer Assignment Board|
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