Third Prize—Arleigh Burke Essay Contest
Naval officers have a responsibility to care for their people and to carry out the orders of their seniors, but if they perform these functions without consideration of the mission, they are missing the point. Leadership is not about popularity—up or down the chain of command; it is about mission accomplishment.
Is it possible to be a successful leader without enjoying significant popularity among those under your charge? Conversely, is it possible to be enormously popular, both up and down the chain of command, yet be a failure as a leader? Years of observing senior officers as they commanded under varied circumstances, from the benign to the most extraordinarily stressful, leads me to believe that leadership and popularity have only a nodding acquaintance. Certainly, there are a few leaders so gifted and charismatic that they can be loved and successful, but in the main, consistent and significant popularity is more likely to be a residue of non-leadership.