PRINCIPLES OF COMMAND
By Rear Admiral Lloyd H. Chandler, U. S. Navy
Professor Fulton defines expository writing as being "that kind of writing which has as its primary function the impartial unfolding of any phenomenon, hypothesis or generalization to the understanding of the reader." The subject here presented for consideration is "The Principles of Command" and we therefore have before us an attempt at expository writing which requires that we shall take this term and attempt to set forth " what it is, what are its essential qualities," and "into what kinds it is divided." When, however, we attempt to state "how much it includes," "what it excludes" and "how it differs from other similar ideas," we shall see that it is an all-inclusive term, in that it includes, to a certain degree at least, "all other similar ideas"; that is, it in a measure includes elements of all ideas that are similar to even a remote degree. Therefore the point as to "what it includes" and "what it excludes" can only be covered in a practical way by saying that the principles of command include in a certain degree every principle not widely divergent in character, and that they entirely exclude only such totally divergent principles.
We have an idea to discuss, not a concrete fact, and the first step therefore necessarily becomes one of analysis in order to detect the several elements upon which rest the principles that underlie the power and ability to command. If we do this, and consider each element in turn, we may be able, first, to determine upon what requirements the power and ability to command are based; and then, proceeding synthetically, we may also succeed in envisaging the character and type of man who may be expected to succeed to a high degree in the exercise of command.
Power and Ability to Command
The power and ability to command consist of the power to employ men, materials, and natural forces successfully to produce certain desired results. This statement is broad in scope and covers most human administrative activities; it applies to the work of the administrative head of a railroad, of a manufacturing establishment, etc., as truly as it does to a military officer. For purposes of present discussion, however, we will consider only the principles of command as applying to the naval service.
Before proceeding further it will be well to point out the difference in meaning between the two words used above; namely, the power and the ability to command. Generally speaking the two words might possibly be considered as synonymous, but the writer prefers to consider ability as referring more especially to possession of knowledge and of the technical skill to use it, and power as referring more particularly to that strength to act and force of character without which knowledge and skill—that is, ability—are of little value. Under these definitions, therefore, the first of our requisites for command is knowledge and that technical skill to use it without which its possession is of no practical value. This is of course a function of the intellect, and the writer has therefore sought to segregate this special idea by his use of the word ability to command. This idea is essentially static, and for this attribute to be of practical value to the possessor this ability must be set to work; that is, it must move. It is to the quality which establishes and maintains such movement that the writer has applied the word power to command.
The Relative Importance to Officers of High and of Low Rank of an Understanding of the Principles of Command
As the development of the discussion proceeds, it will be noted that the principles involved apply alike to all officers and men possessing any degree of authority and responsibility whatever. The only difference between an officer of high rank and a junior officer or petty officer, so far as the principles of command are concerned, is one of degree and not of principle; the senior must know and adhere, to the highest degree possible, to all the principles involved; whereas the junior may successfully perform the lesser duties that fall to his lot with a far less extensive knowledge of and a far less degree of compliance with such principles. Now as every junior hopes in time to become a senior, it is at once apparent that such junior, as a fundamental part of his task of preparing himself for advancement, should from the beginning consistently endeavor to increase his knowledge of the principles of command and his skill and power in applying them.
In view of the statement made above that the requirements for command are in principle alike for all persons in authority in the naval service, varying in different cases only in degree we may appropriately conduct the discussion of the principles of command mainly from the point of view of the officer of high rank. The one such officer who more than any other is so placed as to require for the successful performance of his duty the highest power and ability to command is he who acts as the commander-in-chief of a large fleet, and this thesis will therefore deal primarily with the principles of command from the point of view of such commander-in-chief.
Necessity for Their Being Understood and Applied
It need hardly be argued that, in order to be successful in the exercise of any degree of command, it is necessary for the officer or man exercising such command to comply with the principles underlying such command to such degree as is required by the extent of the command. Some men exercise command successfully without greatly considering this subject and perhaps without any really logical understanding of it—such men are born leaders of men and comply with the principles intuitively. That this may have been possible in some cases cannot be accepted as a sound argument that the study of the principles of command may safely be neglected; in fact, it is most probable that such successful commanders have only seemed to neglect the study of the science, and have simply failed to leave any considerable record, whether verbal or written, of their thoughts and studies in regard thereto. Be that as it may, it cannot be gainsaid that the born leader will have his peculiar powers enhanced by such study, while the less gifted man may thereby enable himself to pass the line that lies between failure and success.
Nature of the Forces to be Commanded
As has already been said, the first step in any discussion conducted for the purpose of determining the principles underlying any particular activity must be one of analysis; the activity in question must, if possible, be resolved into its constituent parts in order that the underlying principles may be discerned and separated one from the other for discussion. In submitting to this process the thought expressed by the phrase principles of command, we realize that there are three classes of forces which a commander-in-chief must endeavor to control or command; they being
- Forces of nature.
- Forces flowing from the use of material.
- Forces flowing from personnel.
Of course it is impossible to really command natural forces, and in implying such command we mean the shaping of our designs in such a manner as will cause them to be served by such natural forces. So we act when we direct our sailing, route to take advantage of known or expected weather conditions, current, etc. The forces flowing from material are also subject to actual command in slight degree only. Material is used as a means for directing existing natural forces along certain lines so that they will become useful to us, as when we use the machinery plant of a ship to transform the energy stored in the fuel into propulsive energy applied to the ship. We can control or command such forces in a sense, it is true, but in exercising such control we must be guided by the natural laws governing their action. While the use of these forces as an element in war is a function of the commander-in-chief, the actual field of the fitting of material to so render natural forces useful is primarily that of the scientist, inventor, designer, and constructor, who furnish the material, and the part of the commander-in-chief is to understand the subject and to use such material effectively and within the limits of its capabilities. The forces flowing from personnel are those which an officer, be he commander-in-chief or other, can most greatly influence; command; control. By the creation of high morale, esprit de corps, loyalty, etc., he can exalt these forces to the utmost, and by failure to do this he can bring about disaster; thus Mahan: "Historically poor ships with good men have proved better than good ships with poor men," or words to that effect, and "good men" are men of high skill, morale, and loyalty, and men well commanded.
Knowledge and Character as the Fundamental Requisites for Command
Proceeding with our analysis of the requirements for command and of the duties of a commander-in-chief, we may conclude that the first requirements for such an officer must be:
- Knowledge and the technical skill to use it; that is ability.
- Character; which includes the power to use ability.
Upon a full possession of these two qualities depends the capability of any man for successful command.
KNOWLEDGE AND THE TECHNICAL SKILL TO USE IT; THAT IS ABILITY
Essentials of Knowledge
It will no doubt be admitted without argument that, to be thoroughly successful, a commander-in-chief must have a high degree of knowledge of all the elements of his profession, and that the greater and more varied the extent of his professional knowledge, the better fitted he will be to perform his duties, provided he has the other requisite qualities. While it is well nigh impossible to prepare a list covering completely the field of knowledge over which spread the duties of a commander-in-chief, at the same time we may say that the principal subjects lying within that field are:
- Instruction and training,
- International law.
- Military law.
- The science of psychology.
- Creation and maintenance of high morale, loyalty, and military character.
- Principles of cooperation.
- Character and temper of nations and peoples.
- Higher command, including plan making and staff work.
- How to acquire knowledge.
The extent of the field of knowledge indicated by this list, incomplete as it must necessarily be, indicates in itself the impossibility of securing a perfect commander-in-chief, and shows why the life of a naval officer is all too short for the study of his profession. It is worthy of note that in the above list appears no mention of what are generally referred to as the "technical subjects"; by which is meant such professional and technical matters as the construction of ordnance, as the theory and practice of steam and electrical engineering, etc. The more a commander-in-chief knows of all these subjects the better able will he be to control the forces flowing from the use of material, but in detail they are matters that are habitually in the hands of his subordinates, and so they have not been included in the above list and will not be considered in this thesis.
Technical Skill to Use Knowledge
The mere possession of knowledge is of little or no value to the working man or to the cause which he serves. No matter how erudite a man may be, he is valueless unless he can transform his knowledge into useful action. Therefore in an officer we must have, not knowledge alone, but as well the knowledge of how to apply knowledge; that is, technical skill. A flag officer may know ever so well the contents of the battle signal book, but unless he can stand on the bridge and handle his command according to the doctrines and by the methods contained in that signal book, he is in reality no flag officer, but only a storehouse of knowledge, really useless to himself and incapable in the office which he attempts to fill; and not only useless, but in a fleet a menace and threat to that fleet and to the country which it serves. Therefore of an officer is demanded not only knowledge, but ability; that is, both knowledge and the technical skill to use it.
Knowledge of Policy, Strategy, Tactics, and Logistics
Consideration of these four subjects will be omitted from this abbreviated paper, for, while there is much to be said in regard to each of them, they are perhaps better understood than some other phases of this question, and full discussion of them may well be omitted here.
Knowledge of Organization, Administration, and Instruction and Training
The remarks in the preceding paragraph apply to these subjects also, but in addition it may be well to state in this connection that fundamental organization and administration should be so perfected in time of peace that their operation will continue almost automatically in time of war, thereby relieving those in high command from every-day harassment at such times, and permitting them to concentrate their time and energies upon the immediate demands of war; and that organization and administration are merely means to an end and not ends in themselves; a fact that appears to be sometimes overlooked.
Knowledge of International Law
Again we may omit any lengthy discussion, and simply invite attention to the fact that this knowledge should cover international law of the past as well as of to-day; of the force of precedents, of the possible effects of one's actions upon international law, of the power of international law to control one's actions, and of general and special treaties to which our country is a party.
Knowledge of Military Law
This knowledge should include not only the laws, regulations, and rules for the government of the navy, but the broader phases involving the relations of the navy with other branches of our government, and with civil territories and peoples, whether our own or alien.
Knowledge of the Principles of Psychology
Before proceeding with the discussion of the principles of psychology it is necessary to give some consideration to the meaning of the word, and we find the following as accepted definitions:
Psychology.—The science of the human mind or soul and its activities and capacities; the science that treats inductively of the phenomena of human consciousness, and of the nature and relation of the subject of them; mental philosophy. (Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Dictionary.)
Psychology.—The science of the mind; systematic knowledge and investigation of the genesis, powers and functions of mind. Under this head there are three subsciences, as follows:
- Individual psychology, which treats the developed mind of the individual.
- Comparative psychology, which is the comparative study of different classes of minds, and includes animal, folk, race, and social psychology, the latter including criminal psychology and the study of degenerates.
- Genetic or evolutionary psychology, which is the study of the mind's development, and includes child psychology and the genetic studies of the various departments of comparative psychology.
There are other divisions of psychology, but they are of little importance in classification. (Webster's New International Dictionary.)
Of these two definitions the one given by Webster is the most illuminating for the purpose of this thesis, and it will therefore be accepted as the basis for discussion, modified, however, by one addition from the Standard Dictionary definition. Webster defines the word as being a science applying only to the mind, whereas the Standard Dictionary applies it to both mind and soul. The difference is perhaps a somewhat elusive one, but it cannot be denied that many decisions and actions flow from impulse or from some other source than reasoned mental processes. Whatever be the inspiring cause in such cases, whether we consider them as flowing from soul or from the mind, they are equally important in our study of command; it will be important for a commander, in his estimate of individuals or of classes, to be able to judge, not only what decisions and actions may be expected from others in any situation, but also, knowing the individuals or classes concerned and the existing situation, to be able to discern in advance whether such decisions and actions will be based upon reason or upon impulse.
In addition to the general study of the psychology of those with whom he will be brought in contact, as well set forth in Webster's statement of the subsciences, a commander-in-chief will have to give consideration to a number of special circumstances and classes with which he, as a naval officer in high command, must necessarily deal. This fact enforces some further elucidation in regard to each of Webster's subsciences, and some special application of them to naval conditions.
For the purpose of this thesis, individual psychology may well stand as defined, provided that we bear in mind that the individuals to whom consideration must be given are specially trained along certain particular lines, and that those lines are widely different from any known in civil life. Therefore the minds of naval officers and men may be expected to show numerous and very considerable differences from those ordinarily covered by expert civilian students of psychology. It is for this reason that seafaring men as a rule are so little understood by their own countrymen; their habits and mentalities have been so different from those of civilians that they have occupied almost a separate world of their own. And it is only of comparatively late years that the seafaring population has ceased to be very mute in regard to itself; formerly nearly all of its members, even officers of the navy, were not given to writing or even to much study, and it is only within the latter part of the last century that the sailor has appeared in literature to any extent in anything except novels or similar productions. Being thus shut off from the world, little understood and little understanding outside of his own brethren, there grew up in the sailor a mental state very different from and very strange to that of a man whose life is spent ashore and free from naval restrictions. And in addition to the differences resulting from the sea life in itself, existence under those same naval restrictions and discipline produces a still further and a very great effect of a similar nature. While these differences are not to-day so marked as they formerly were, owing to the changed conditions of sea life and to the disappearance of the old time sailor class as such, nevertheless such differences still exist to a very considerable degree, especially in those who have spent many years in the service, and they must be taken into account in the study of the individual psychology of the members of the naval profession.
Also, comparative psychology with us not only stands as given in the dictionary definition, but must specifically consider the mental processes of the different grades and ranks, as of commissioned officers of command and of subordinate rank, of warrant officers, of chief petty officers, of other petty officers, and of rated and nonrated enlisted men. These are of course classes that do not exist in civil life, even though they may have somewhat equivalent divisions in certain professions on shore. Even where such divisions exist in civil life, the members of each of the several classes are not bound together by mutual interests and close association as they are in the navy. So, while such special classes are not considered in the dictionary, they must be given due consideration in any study of naval psychology. And in addition to the above special classification we must consider the various corps involved, which include the line, the several staff corps, and the marine corps, each one of which has its own special traditions, habits of thought, interests, etc. Another line of division is based upon actual occupation, as of the deck force for both deck and gunnery purposes, the engineers, the electrical force, and numerous other groups arranged according to the branches of activity in which the individuals concerned are engaged on board ship. Then during the last war we had, as we probably will have in every future war, another most important division the conflicting elements of which must be reconciled; this being based on the different classes of personnel in regard to origin; namely, regulars, temporary officers and men, national naval volunteers, naval reserve force, etc. This last division, that based on origin, in itself furnished an ample field for no mean psychological study.
Not only must we deal with the psychology of personnel operating under the above subdivisions, but we are faced with the fact that many men, especially among the officers, deal, not with the activities of a single subdivision alone, but with more than one; indeed the captain of a ship, and, in a less degree, the executive officer, deal with all. And it is a curious fact, but true, that while a man's general characteristics of mind perhaps do not greatly vary under different conditions, nevertheless, when it comes to details, his mental attitude and methods may be very different in regard to one subject from what they are in regard to another, and in such a case the ability of the individual in the different subjects will vary accordingly. Thus a certain individual may be a quick and accurate thinker in regard to gunnery work, let us say, and slow and uncertain in regard to navigation; and similarly with regard to other branches. There are perhaps two possible causes for this, the first being the natural power of any given mind to master certain subjects more readily than others, from which will spring a greater interest in the former subjects and, no doubt, greater and better knowledge in regard to them. The second possible cause is that the exigencies of the service may have impelled the individual into certain studies and activities, which would result in greater knowledge and interest along those particular lines. In this latter case it is quite possible that the particular individual in question can, if opportunity be offered him or forced upon him by the demands of the service, show equal or even greater aptitude in other things. This perhaps borders on individual psychology, but comes about as a result of the consideration of the numerous classes enumerated above under comparative psychology. However this may all be, the point at issue now is that, at any given moment; the moment at which the commander must deal with the individual in question; a certain mental attitude exists in that individual; an attitude based upon the past and present comparative classification of his mental activities and it is this mental condition of the moment that it is important to understand, not only in regard to the possible use of the individual at the moment, but also in regard to the possibilities of developing him in other directions.
Under comparative social psychology we must consider criminal psychology, although fortunately in the naval service we do not have to deal with many real criminals. Still, as we have a special code of laws and regulations governing naval discipline, so we have a corresponding class of offenders against such special laws and regulations. While not criminals under the ordinary definition of the word, these men are offenders, and the study of their mental processes and reactions may be properly considered as a special branch of naval criminal psychology.
GENETIC OR EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY
Under genetic or evolutionary psychology we have the development of the mind of the individual; perhaps for our purposes an already thoroughly developed mind along certain lines, but awaiting development along others as the individual endeavors to increase his fund of professional knowledge, as every good naval officer must constantly strive to do. The most frequent example of this condition is where an officer who has special knowledge in one particular branch is called upon to develop himself in and perhaps take charge of activities in another branch. Most completely typical of this is the change in mental activities and characteristics that must take place in a successful officer as he advances in rank. Starting as a junior subordinate, he has a certain limited sphere of duty, and he is expected to know everything about such duties in the most minute detail and literally to attend to the details of such duties himself. His principal pre-occupation must be with what he does himself, and only to a much less degree with the activities of his few immediate subordinates. This condition results in certain habits of thought and methods of mind. As the officer increases in rank, however, the character of his duty broadens; more subjects come within his immediate purview, more subordinates come under his immediate control; and this change in conditions brings with it an enormously increased mass of detail, until it ceases to be possible or advisable for him to attend to all such details himself. He must then begin to effectively control and to rely on his subordinates for details and must begin to center himself less on what he does himself and more on what he causes others to do and directs them in doing. With this must come a corresponding change in his mental processes; a genetic or evolutionary change. Such a step, and a very great one, is that which occurs when an officer passes from subordinate to command position; when, as when becoming for the first time the commanding officer of a ship, he must include in his duties all the activities and very few of the details, and must rely upon his subordinates for the actual carrying out of nearly all such activities. The best captain is the one who, in carrying on his normal daily duties, does little himself but causes much to be well done by others. It is from a failure to accomplish this most important psychological change that many an officer who has been an excellent subordinate fails in the performance of the duties of command rank.
Strictly speaking, child psychology should not enter into the naval question; and yet, while they are not actually children, nevertheless the extreme youth and in very many cases the great lack of education and mental training on the part of our recruits, do present to us a problem not far different from that presented by a real child. So from this point of view we may perhaps consider that the study of child psychology is one of our problems. In addition to the above condition with which we have to contend; that of youthful recruits with generally immature minds; we have another problem presented by recruits, whatever their age or previous mental training and development, that is in a sense not dissimilar to that presented by the mental development of a child. Such recruit is presumably entirely unfamiliar with the sea and with military discipline; in other words the life into which he is now to be inducted is as unfamiliar to him as is life in general to the new-born child. His mind is absolutely devoid of all the knowledge and habits that we require it to possess in order that it may be useful to us. Therefore we will surely be not amiss if we consider that, while we are not dealing with child psychology literally speaking, nevertheless we are dealing with a mind that, regardless of the age of the individual, is the mind of a child so far as our particular purpose is concerned. The mind in question may be well educated, well trained, and well developed generally, and so be especially fertile for rapid special development in our particular branch; but otherwise, for our special purpose, it has little advantage over that of a child. Hence it is not far from the truth to consider that the principles that should underlie our training system for recruits of all ages should be similar to those of child psychology, modified as may be necessary to meet the condition of an older body and of a mind developed to a greater extent than that of a child in regard to things other than those which we now wish to teach.
SUBJECTS FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY
Having presented some general statements in regard to psychology, and having enumerated some special classes to which a naval officer should give psychological study, it becomes necessary to set forth some arguments as to why such study should be given and as to what results should follow it. In stating that one item of knowledge that should be possessed by a commander-in-chief is that which relates to the principles of psychology, it may be said that his studies in this branch should refer to our own and to foreign peoples, governments, and officials, both civil and military and especially so far as concerns:
- Seniors in command.
- Equals in command with whom he may be called upon to cooperate, whether they be naval, military, or civilian; whether of our own or of foreign nations; that is, associates in command.
- Enemy high officials and naval and military commanders against whom he may be called upon to operate.
PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY OF SENIORS AND ASSOCIATES
In regard to this phase of the matter it may be said that the purpose in view in regard to such friendly elements is to bring about mutual understanding and coordinated action. To do this each must understand the other, and in conference all must finally reach a common conviction in regard to the subjects at issue. In one form or another, such as are interested must meet, each must present his views and beliefs, and from this interchange must come a final decision; accepted and believed in by all; from which can flow coordinated action. It is evident that to accomplish this each must know the mind of the others. And although the character of the situation changes according to the subjects of the conference and the character of the participants in it, as well as with the manner of the conference, it may justly be claimed as generally true that the main object of such conference is for each member to present correct and strong views, to convince others that such views are correct, to display his mind for the benefit of the others and, on the other side, to become convinced by argument when he holds any mistaken views, to have any such views corrected by argument and the presentation of additional information, and to benefit himself by the mental displays of others. Only by some such process can coordination and cooperation be successfully accomplished. Now a commander-in-chief is presumably a man properly qualified to command, and his beliefs and conclusions are entitled to great weight when he sits in high council with those by whom he is commanded and those with whom he must act in conjunction. Therefore it is most important that the commander-in-chief shall at such times be able to present his views in such a way as to command respect and to secure their adoption unless some wiser senior or associate can either show that such views are faulty or else propose something better. A man cannot do this unless he knows the psychology of such seniors and associates and understands how best to approach each one of them; one particular argument or line of reasoning will convince one type of mind and have little effect upon another.
PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY OF SUBORDINATES
So much having been said in regard to the psychology of seniors and associates, we may now speak of the subject as referring to subordinates. Here the principles as laid down above still apply, but somewhat differently. It is true that a commander-in-chief, or any other officer, if he is to secure good results, must in some manner convince his subordinates of his wisdom and sound judgment, so that they may with confidence support and obey him. This means the creation and maintenance of high morale and loyalty within his command, and the first step in accomplishing this is to convince his subordinates that he possesses in a high degree the qualities requisite for high command; in the words of the Articles of War: "to show in himself a good example of virtue, honor, patriotism, and subordination," wherein the writer believes that the law attempts to summarize the qualities that should be possessed by every officer in high command. Now the convincing of one's subordinates depends upon personal contact and argument, so far as a commander-in-chief is himself concerned, with only a very limited number of individuals; he deals personally with a few force, squadron, and division commanders, his own staff, etc., and the only way in which he reaches his lesser subordinates is through those others, and by his general attitude and measures. Now if a commander-in-chief can in the first place create a feeling of confidence in himself on the part of his subordinates, which means morale and loyalty, he has thereby acquired over them a large measure of that influence which he seeks to obtain. Having their admiration and respect, they are disposed to accept his measures more or less without question; which means that, having once convinced them that he is worthy of command, it is as a rule not necessary for him to convince in regard to individual measures. And this favorable situation goes further back than this, for, in the case of an officer who is not unfavorably known to the service at large, the very fact that he has been ordered as commander-in-chief arouses in his subordinates a predisposition to assume that he is worthy to hold the office. These two facts make the situation most advantageous for him who has the desire, skill, and tact to make use of the favorable elements to the utmost. The difference between this case and that in which an officer deals with seniors and associates is manifest, and is that, in dealing with those others it is necessary to convince by argument and sound presentation of each individual case; only in rare instances can one hope to carry such others with him by the strength of their favorable feeling for him; whereas, with his subordinates, when once he has instilled into them the proper feelings of loyalty and respect and the desired high morale, their feeling for him will cause them to accept as a matter of course and loyally to support his measures, and will make them desirous, not only of understanding, but of foreseeing and meeting his wishes even before they are expressed.
PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY OF SELF
It is evident from what has already been said that, in order to know others, a man must first know himself; that is, his psychological study must begin with himself. Unfortunately this particular branch of psychology, which is one of the most important if not the most important, is the one that is most apt to be neglected, especially by the young. Unless the habit of self-inspection and self-study begins in youth and continues through life, it is little apt to be taken up in later years. And youth is little given to introspection; is too apt to give little thought to its own actions. If, of two captains, one has an efficient and happy ship and the other the reverse, it is generally the case that their subordinates and those others who are aware of the conditions, will accept the result as being caused by certain qualities natively inherent in the two men; they will think that one captain was born with the qualities requisite to produce the good results and that the other was born without them; that the results actually achieved were inevitable and consequent upon conditions that came into existence when the two men were born. Now if those two men, during their preceding years, made no psychological study of themselves, this point of view is doubtless correct. If, however, any man makes a proper study of himself, it may well be that he may remedy defects existing naturally in himself and thereby achieve success instead of failure.
PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY OF YOUNGER OFFICERS
In his dealings with his subordinates, the writer has found that one of the greatest difficulties with younger officers and with enlisted men is to get them to really think, and his first effort has always been to attempt to stir them to mental action, and to guide such action in appropriate directions. So far as the men are concerned, the usual newspaper published on board most large ships furnished a good medium for reaching their minds, and much can be done by properly worded notices and orders, and by training the officers to stir the men to mental activity. For the officers, the writer has made continuous efforts in the same direction, through close personal association, by constant carefully considered conversation with officers on the bridge and elsewhere, and by the preparation of treatises, etc., on various subjects which he has endeavored to get into their hands in such shape and by such methods as will arouse their interest and avoid repelling them by the appearance of preaching.
PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY OF ENEMY OFFICIALS
A most important phase of the question is the psychology of those foreign officials against whom a commander-in-chief is apt to find himself opposed in time of war, which would of course mean primarily the commander-in-chief and other high officers of the enemy's navy. To know their habits of thought and to understand their probable reasoning and conclusions in any given situation is manifestly one of the greatest assets that a commander-in-chief can possess. Therefore information as to the character of such officials in all foreign navies should be eagerly sought at all times in preparation for possible war, and, as well, should be studied the doctrines and habits of thought that generally find favor in each such navy. It is perhaps needless to add that here is a place where great caution is necessary if we would avoid error, and perhaps fatal error. It is hard enough to reach sound psychological conclusions in regard to our own people, even our own fellow officers, and when we come to study even the civilian mind of our own countrymen we find greatly increased difficulty in being sure of our conclusions. And this difficulty is greatly enhanced when we attempt psychological research among alien personalities, even of related races; and when the race under investigation is not only alien but a member of one of the great divisions of the human race differing widely ethnologically from our own, then we must indeed accept our conclusions only with the greatest diffidence, and must suspect that any conclusion that we may reach is very apt to be erroneous.
THE APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGY AND THE RESULTS SOUGHT BY THE APPLICATION OF THOSE PRINCIPLES
From what has been said it will be perceived at once that, in the study of psychology, we are seeking a means to an end. That end is two-fold in its nature; on the one hand it is the understanding of the mental conditions and mental processes of those with whom we have to deal in order that we may either bend their thoughts and purposes into channels along which we think they should flow; or else, on the other hand, it is to understand them and, after we have so far as practicable induced them to accept our point of view, to otherwise accommodate our own mental activities to theirs, while at the same time building up in such associates a desirable frame of mind and will. Under this last head comes the creation of morale. This all means that, by a given means; the application of the principles of psychology; we desire to attain a certain end; the acceptance of sound purposes and the creation of high morale. We have discussed psychology at some length and in so doing have familiarized ourselves with the means, and in subsequent discussion we will consider the practical application of this means to attain the desired end. Before proceeding to do this, however, one further remark seems applicable, and that is that in all dealings with personnel, of whatsoever nature, psychology enters as a controlling factor. The giving of a simple order; even the tone of voice in which it is given has a psychological effect upon the hearer—an effect that may be of the first importance. And this is equally true of personal actions; the manner and bearing of an officer in an emergency are important to the utmost limit because of their psychological effect upon those around him. Therefore, every thought, every word, and every action should, consciously or unconsciously, be in accordance with correct psychological principles if we would attain a maximum of success in our relations with others, be they seniors, associates, or subordinates.
CLASSES OF MEN AND MINDS
It is difficult to reduce men and their minds to any simple classification, and any such effort must be only moderately successful and full of flaws, but nevertheless it will be well to briefly touch here upon this point. In general, and without special discussion, we may say that we have, or may have:
- Geniuses.—Such are rare; they are an abnormality. When the abnormality works beneficially the individual in question is hailed as a genius; when it works in the other direction we put him in the mad house. "Genius is akin to madness."
- Men who just fail of being geniuses, but who in attainments and performance stand very high; the class bordering on genius. In this class there may be men who fail of genius simply because opportunity does not knock at their doors.
- Men well above the average in attainments and performance. These are they upon whom must fall our main burden.
- Men average or thereabouts, upon whom we must depend for the performance of the greater part of the subordinate duties, for such men compose the great majority in any organization. It is hopeless to expect good results from them in any but subordinate positions, and the psychological problem becomes to get the best out of them that they are capable of producing, meanwhile supplying them with the necessary guidance and inspiration.
- Men somewhat below average, but not enough so to keep them from being useful in a limited sense. Such men must be used for what it is possible to get out of them; the problem is to know what they can do, to get them to do it, and to avoid letting them get into positions where more is demanded of them than they are capable of producing.
- Men so far below the naval average that they can be of little or no use—failures. Fortunately we have not to deal with any great number of these. The problem is first to recognize them, and then to get rid of them, for they are not only useless, but a menace—there is always danger that one of them will inadvertently be placed in some position where something of importance may directly or indirectly devolve upon him, and failure will then result.
From this statement our psychological problem of organization becomes apparent. It is to recognize and select from among our personnel, the men who constitute each of the above classes, and to fit each one into the organization in such a way that his faculties and powers will be given the fullest possible play, without in any case placing any man in a position such that the load thrown upon him will exceed his ability and power to carry.
QUALITIES OF MIND NECESSARY FOR LEADERSHIP
From a psychological point of view it is readily deduced from what has already been said that, among the leading qualities of mind necessary for leadership, considered as qualities of mind purely and not as qualities of character, are:
Receptivity—the power of receiving and assimilating.
Quickness—the power of receiving, assimilating, and drawing conclusions rapidly.
Accuracy—the power of receiving, assimilating, and drawing conclusions correctly.
Judgment—the power to discriminate correctly and wisely; to correctly differentiate between the practical and the impracticable.
Stability—firmness, constancy, steadiness, singleness and tenacity of purpose, persistence, pertinacity, patience.
Courage—spirit, confidence, self-reliance, resolution.
Imagination—originality, inventiveness, inspiration.
Initiative—power to conceive and to execute without prompting from without.
Skill and ability to inspire other minds.
It is difficult to prepare such a list as the above and in doing so to differentiate between qualities of mind and of character; mind and character are inextricably interwoven. Nor can any such list be complete. As given above, however, it may be accepted as a partial list indicating the fundamental characteristics of mind upon which character, especially military character, and command efficiency must rest.
(To Be Continued)