October 08


People You Should Know – CDR Richard Massie and CDR Leif Mollo

UPDATED: As this blog evolves, the manner in which I troll for material often brings to mind specific people or teams who exemplify the concepts of human leadership. Up to now, I have done my best to incorporate some of their qualities and attributes into specific examples that would fit in with the tenor and purpose of this blog. However, by doing so, I think it shortchanges who they are and what they do, and most importantly, what effects they have on the men and women they serve, and their organizations.  With that, I think it is time to start meeting some of these people.

Every year, the United States Navy awards two sailors the leadership award named after Admiral James Stockdale.  The two pre-requisites for the award must be that the person was the single commander of a ship or unit, and that the award nominations can only be submitted by peers or subordinates. Admiral Stockdale served in the US Navy frm 1946 to 1979 and is best known for his status as a prisoner of war from 1965 to 1973.  His heroic performance as the senior officer in the Hanoi Hilton, and his leadership of his fellow POW’s during that time period resulting in the award of the Medal of Honor in 1976.  The US Naval Academy’s School of Leadership bears his name.

CDR Richard Massie was nominated by six of his fellow submarine commanders, who stated “…It is clear that his personal initiative and performance has infused his crew with a sense of honor and commitment that embodies the essence of the war-fighting spirit…his clear expectations of dignity and respect foster a command culture that encourages teamwork and cohesiveness among all crew members.” Said CDR Massie, I have some exceptional crew members who are motivated to succeed and pull together to conquer adversity…every sailor, no matter how junior, plays an integral role…the keys to being a successful leader are to treat everyone with dignity and respect, avoid arrogance, and encourage back-up”.

CDR Leif Mollo was nominated by a fellow SEAL team commander, who stated “…”Within weeks, through his ability to achieve excellence and balance, and to keep people focused on the mission, the Team built needed resiliency into the Afghan Local Police Program, drove Afghan Special Operations Forces into the lead, and laid the foundation for transition….Cmdr. Mollo exemplifies the SEAL Ethos and our Navy core values.” Said CDR Mello, “…Understand that you serve those whom you lead…not the other way around. Set the example..be yourself…be humble, be human, build trust…establish your commander’s limits but then allow the professionals under your command to come up with unique and innovative solutions…enable your subordinates to lead.”

Commitment, dignity and respect for all, teamwork and cohesiveness, achieving excellence through mission-focused engagement and fostering resiliency.  Admiral Stockdale would be proud.

All people you should know…