Vice Admiral William Sims (second row, second from right), shown here with his staff circa 1918, believed that good subordinates showed their leaders loyalty and initiative. (Naval History and Heritage Command)
A little more than a century ago, as the storm clouds of war hung over Europe, then-Captain William Sowden Sims was asked to deliver a lecture on military character.1 Sims already had earned a reputation for being a bit of a rebel and a reformer as he worked to improve U.S. naval gunnery and created a fleetwide competition that later would be known as the Battle E. In 1916, the Navy had begun to consider that the war in Europe might spread and mass mobilization might be required. The Navy commissioned lectures on topics such as coastal defense, torpedo boats, and other technical subjects to introduce volunteers to the concepts and methods they would need for naval service if mass mobilization was required. Captain Sims was asked to pitch in his leadership insights.