Navy culture—especially within the officer ranks—punishes mistakes and rewards success. While the service has recognized the more than two-decades-old problem of zero-defect mentality—developed during the reduction-in-force period of the 1990s—most of us have yet to see the reemergence of the command master chief who remembers his own alcohol-related incidents while he counsels junior sailors. Moreover, we rarely witness a junior officer who makes serious mistakes and rises above them become a commanding officer. While the words “zero-defect mentality” are verboten in a discussion of naval culture, the reality is that a single bad tour still can put a junior officer on a dead-end career track.
Good Leaders Encourage Failure
By Lieutenant Commander James E. Brokaw, U.S. Navy