Winner, Vincent Astor Memorial Leadership Essay Contest
Today's zero-defects mentality—which says it is worse to admit a mistake than to make one—must be eradicated if the U.S. Navy is to continue to build strong naval officers.
Throughout its history, the U.S. Navy has been blessed with great combat leaders. Having the right leader in the right place at the right time has been the key to victory. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine victory in the Pacific War without the likes of Nimitz, Halsey, Spruance, and Burke leading the way. Inspirational naval combat leadership has been less the exception than the rule. Every time the nation has called, a strong cadre of naval leaders has answered, meeting the many challenges of combat at all levels of command. This good fortune in the leadership arena should not be attributed to dumb luck. The secret of our success has been that the U.S. naval tradition is imbued with the idea that strong institutional leadership in peacetime cultivates exceptional individual leaders for war.