2013 Leadership Essay Contest


1st Place: "Triggering Innovation and Initiative" by Lieutenant Erik Sand, U.S. Navy
2nd Place: "The Pillar of Leadership" by Captain Justin P. Gray, U.S. Marine Corps
3rd Place: "Empathy: Long-Haul Sustainer" by Lieutenant Kurt Albaugh, U.S. Navy

Honorable Mentions

The Challenge

Leadership in the Sea Services: The Junior Officers’ Perspective.
The contest will focus on leadership and character and their roles in America’s naval service, from the Revolution forward.

About the Leadership Essay Contest

Leadership is a much discussed topic, hence this contest will address it from an unusual slant, first by confining itself to the views of junior officers, second by encouraging them to answer questions along the following lines:

What does leadership look like to the led? What does it look like from below?

From beside?

What qualities and characteristics define leadership for those who are themselves young leaders who aspire to command?

Can leadership be defined … or only recognized?

Can leadership be taught … or only learned?

How can leadership be nurtured?

What does character have to do with leadership?

What is the role of mentors?

What were the great naval leaders saying about leaders and leadership when they themselves were junior officers?

What other lessons can be drawn from naval history?

Why do so many people believe their experience as a naval officer changed their lives – whether they continued to serve on active duty or not?

Contest Highlights

  • Call for Papers: The U.S. Naval Institute is calling for papers on the subject of leadership and character as described above under “The Challenge.” Call for papers to appear in July Proceedings, and online July 1.
  • Eligibility: Only junior officers, O-4 (LCDR/MAJOR) and below, from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard will be eligible to take part in the essay contest.
  • Deadline for Submission of Essays: August 31, 2013 Length of Essays – Maximum 3,000 words Submission Process – Email essays by August 31, 2013 to [email protected]
  • Review Process: A joint panel composed of the Proceedings editorial staff and editorial board shall judge essays and choose winners?
  • Announcement of Winners: Winners will be emailed on September 31 and announced online.
  • Publication of Winning Essay: November issue of Proceedings and online November 1, 2013.


1st Prize: $5,000 and one year membership in USNI
2nd Prize: $2,500 and one year membership in USNI
3rd Prize: $1,500 and one year membership in USNI

Award Ceremony

Prize winners are honored as part of USNI’s Recognition ceremony during the Naval Institute's Annual Meeting. We will also invite representatives of CACI and Dr. J.P. (Jack London) to be present to assist in the award presentation.

About Naval Institute Essay Contests

Essay contests have been central to the work of the Naval Institute for well over one hundred years. They directly fulfill the Institute’s educational mission by encouraging writing on issues of concern to the Sea Services. They provide thought-provoking articles that spur ongoing discussion of these same issues, not only in Naval Institute media, print and digital, but also in other leading defense and national security forums.


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