XO/OIC Leadership Lessons Learned

XO/OIC Leadership Lessons Learned

Postby Sum1 » Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:23 am

I recently sent a former co-worker and current CWO XO who I respect and consider a mentor a message asking him about his XO experience, and realized this forum might benefit from a similar, open discussion. I don't really care if it goes on here or on the hypo blog, but I really want to hear from people in or formerly in these positions. Specifically, I'd love to know things like:

- What was your experience as an XO/OIC (positive, negative, neutral, crazy)?
- Did your experience line up with expectations? What surprised you?
- What was the most challenging aspect of the job?
- How did you prepare?
- Knowing what you know now, would you prepare differently? Is there anything else you'd do differently?

Thanks ahead of time to those who respond. I'd love if this became an interactive discussion/conversation. We have a plethora of great contributors at all career levels, and I think we can all benefit from openly sharing our experiences. *** Edit *** I considered starting this discussion on the CWO milbook page. I'd like to hear people's opinion on hosting this kind of discussion there, and if the relative lack of anonymity would preclude frank participation.

Cheers,
Sum1
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Re: XO/OIC Leadership Lessons Learned

Postby COMEVIL » Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:20 pm

Sum1 wrote:I recently sent a former co-worker and current CWO XO who I respect and consider a mentor a message asking him about his XO experience, and realized this forum might benefit from a similar, open discussion. I don't really care if it goes on here or on the hypo blog, but I really want to hear from people in or formerly in these positions. Specifically, I'd love to know things like:

- What was your experience as an XO/OIC (positive, negative, neutral, crazy)?
- Did your experience line up with expectations? What surprised you?
- What was the most challenging aspect of the job?
- How did you prepare?
- Knowing what you know now, would you prepare differently? Is there anything else you'd do differently?

Thanks ahead of time to those who respond. I'd love if this became an interactive discussion/conversation. We have a plethora of great contributors at all career levels, and I think we can all benefit from openly sharing our experiences. *** Edit *** I considered starting this discussion on the CWO milbook page. I'd like to hear people's opinion on hosting this kind of discussion there, and if the relative lack of anonymity would preclude frank participation.

Cheers,
Sum1


If you post your question on the milsuite page I'll gladly respond there.

v/r

Comevil
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Re: XO/OIC Leadership Lessons Learned

Postby Sum1 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:02 am

COMEVIL wrote:
Sum1 wrote:I recently sent a former co-worker and current CWO XO who I respect and consider a mentor a message asking him about his XO experience, and realized this forum might benefit from a similar, open discussion. I don't really care if it goes on here or on the hypo blog, but I really want to hear from people in or formerly in these positions. Specifically, I'd love to know things like:

- What was your experience as an XO/OIC (positive, negative, neutral, crazy)?
- Did your experience line up with expectations? What surprised you?
- What was the most challenging aspect of the job?
- How did you prepare?
- Knowing what you know now, would you prepare differently? Is there anything else you'd do differently?

Thanks ahead of time to those who respond. I'd love if this became an interactive discussion/conversation. We have a plethora of great contributors at all career levels, and I think we can all benefit from openly sharing our experiences. *** Edit *** I considered starting this discussion on the CWO milbook page. I'd like to hear people's opinion on hosting this kind of discussion there, and if the relative lack of anonymity would preclude frank participation.

Cheers,
Sum1


If you post your question on the milsuite page I'll gladly respond there.

v/r

Comevil


I can do that. Thanks much.
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Re: XO/OIC Leadership Lessons Learned

Postby Sum1 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:17 am

Questions posed to MilSuite

https://www.milsuite.mil/book/thread/175554

Cheers,
Sum1
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Re: XO/OIC Leadership Lessons Learned

Postby Sum1 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:10 pm

I'm hoping more folks login and see the thread on milSuite. As it stands, I'm less than thrilled with the number of responses (thank you, COMEVAL). Should we port a similar thing over to the hypo blog, or does that not fit the blog's focus?

Just trying to find the best way to get some good gouge/responses without just emailing all the O-4+ who've held or are in those positions. Knowledge passed from one to one is great for that person, but it does little to help elevate our CWO brethren.
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Re: XO/OIC Leadership Lessons Learned

Postby Arkad » Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:01 pm

Good point about lack of engagement on milsuite. Personally, I have zero capacity at work to engage on milsuite and choose not to do work at home that requires CAC. I am interested in the conversation and remain a big fan of bringing the conversation to where the audience is. Forcing the audience to find the conversation is a flawed strategy.
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Re: XO/OIC Leadership Lessons Learned

Postby Sum1 » Sun Feb 12, 2017 7:29 pm

Arkad wrote:Forcing the audience to find the conversation is a flawed strategy.


Sir, you SURE you don't do IO?

:)
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Re: XO/OIC Leadership Lessons Learned

Postby COMEVIL » Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:04 pm

Posting my answers here to keep the conversation flowing...

v/r

Comevil

- What was your experience as an XO/OIC (positive, negative, neutral, crazy)?

Positive! This has been a fantastic job! First and foremost the XO is second in command. You have an incredible amount of influence over the command and its future. You are the principle adviser to the CO and a partner to the CMC. As a triad, the success of the command is in your hands. Now add Wardroom President, Training Officer, command liaison, administration, discipline, budgeting, mentor, adviser....lots to do as the XO. I can imagine no better way to prepare for command than to serve as an XO.

- Did your experience line up with expectations? What surprised you?

So far, yes. There have been a few surprises, as well as times when you must address a problem/issue that you have never experienced before. Building a support network (mentors and fellow XOs) will help with those. I also expected to arrive at a somewhat disjointed command. We are a NIOC primarily supporting the site, so our personnel are spread to all corners of the building and stand watch 24/7. Building/maintaining Navy camaraderie and esprit de corps has been a challenge, and always will be.

- What was the most challenging aspect of the job?

Dealing with special situations for the first time: IG complaints, suicide attempts, DUI, sexual assault, special medical situations, positive results on a urinalysis, ADSEP procedures, etc. None of this stuff is especially difficult, but navigating it the first time can be tough. You have to dig into the publications, leverage experience in the triad, wardroom, and CPO mess, and reach out to mentors or fellow XOs, etc. No one shows up to the job 100% prepared. Successfully working your way through these situations the first time will be critical to addressing them the second time.

Other challenges...

Demand solutions. There is an old cartoon about monkeys that my XO on NASSAU had outside his office. I haven't been able to find it, but it basically describes the concept of taking other peoples monkeys (problems) as your own. Command members will come to your office daily with their problems. You need to demand that they show up with solutions. It won't be easy at first, but it has to be done. When they ask you what to do, ask them what they think they should do. Ask them for a solution. You can't/shouldn't solve everyone's problems. You can/should help guide them to solving their own.

Keep the pulse. You need to communicate and understand command issues. Nothing should be a surprise to you, although surprises will happen. Build a close relationship with the CMC and your Department Heads. Do the same with your CO. Get out and talk to the crew on a regular basis. When you do zone inspections, use those opportunities to interact with the crew. Randomly show up on the watch floor, walk around, and see what your sailors are up to. Maintain an open door policy. Get to know the crew.

Don't settle. Simple. If your Sailors don't have the material, training, or resources to accomplish the job you need to fix that. If working conditions, schedules, or living conditions are not to par you need to fix that. If processes, like sponsorship, are not supporting the new command member you need to fix that. At the end of your tour you should be able to sit down and create a list of issues you addressed and how you solved them. Leave the command as a better place than when you arrived.

- How did you prepare?

The XO course is fantastic, as is the legal course. Both are standard items in a pipeline to XO/OIC. Neither will fully prepare you to be an XO/OIC. The best way to prepare is to serve as a Division Officer, Legal Officer, and Department Head. Be and AREC on a selection board. Serve as a member of an ADSEP board. Participate in a Captain's Mast. Do a PIO. Attend PB4T. Serve as the AO for a change-of-command. Run a major command program. All of these experiences will build the baseline for you to serve as an XO.

I was able to make a brief visit to the command prior to turnover. I also maintained a steady line of communications with the current XO prior to reporting. He send me a binder of command instructions and khaki bios, which was a huge help. Turnover was completed in 5 days and he was out the door. Not sure what he is up to these days ;)

- Knowing what you know now, would you prepare differently? Is there anything else you'd do differently?

This is a tough one. I don't want to say no and insinuate that I did everything perfectly! You can always prepare more, right? In general terms, though, I felt ready to assume the duties and have enjoyed every day of it. I can also think of no better way to prepare for command than to serve as an XO.
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Re: XO/OIC Leadership Lessons Learned

Postby Sum1 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:29 pm

Bumping this in the hopes that others currently/formerly in their O-4/O-5 leadership tour (XO/CO) might add their insights. COMEVAL's input was great and extremely valuable as I think through the next five years of my Navy career. With 16 years in as of this August, the next few tours will be pivotal to me personally and professionally. I'm sure there are plenty of peers in similar situations. I think discussions like this really help us make decisions and think through the future.

I'd love a few more people add their insights. Conversely, if you think COMEVAL nailed it and nothing else needs to be added, then that feedback would be good, as well. Thanks much.
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Re: XO/OIC Leadership Lessons Learned

Postby COMEVIL » Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:12 pm

Sum1 wrote:...if you think COMEVAL nailed it and nothing else needs to be added...


HIGHLY unlikely.
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