Then-Commander Gary Montalvo, one of the authors, commands the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS North Carolina (SSN-777) as the submarine transits Tokyo Bay before arriving at Fleet Activities Yokosuka. (U.S. Navy)
Leadership takes many forms across today’s interconnected world. One of the last examples of an isolated group of people being led by a single individual can be found on board Navy warships. These self-sufficient units of 150 to 5,000 sailors often operate thousands of miles from society for weeks to months at a time. During these underway periods, the crews rely on one another not only to fight the nation’s wars, but for their sustainment. As teams, they battle modern societal problems while preparing for a battle that, if started, also would threaten their existence. As can be expected under such circumstances, commanding officers of naval warships carry an incredible responsibility. The captain’s leadership style, behaviors, and decisions are pivotal to the success or failure of the unit to a degree not found in other leadership roles.