Always Train Your Crew

By | February 11, 2020

[February 11, 2020]  A tradition in the U.S. Navy upon the retirement of a sailor is to give a paddle as a gift.  The paddle (or oar) is symbolic of the naval team on which that sailor gave their time and devotion.  It is also a long-standing tradition for naval leaders to be responsible for training their crew.  As such, leaders do more than give orders; they lead by training those in their direct responsibility.

A good friend of mine in the U.S. Navy recently retired as a Captain.  I drove from my home down to Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia to witness the event and, more importantly, to show my appreciation for what he had done for our nation.  The event was inspiring.  Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier, we were treated to full honors by the ship’s captain and his crew.  I’d not forgotten how impressive the U.S. Navy can be when conducting any operation.

An old naval engineers lament about “going ashore” for the last time brings this tradition into focus.

“But like the morning fog and dew, we’ll endeavor to remember you, and when morning sun lifts the haze, and we sail again for many days you’ll remember us as we will you, until the years leave only a few to recall the good old days, of sailing men o’re the waves.” – Navy Engineers “Lament Going Ashore

Leaders are accountable for the care of their team and also for accomplishing the mission assigned to them.  This dual responsibility is no easy task and is, ultimately, the big challenge for leaders.  In fact, the very best leaders are those that live the role of leader; it’s not a 9 to 5 job.  Rarely is there a competent leader who takes their responsibilities lightly.1  For a military leader to ensure people are cared for, and the mission is completed correctly means training their team to do the job correctly.

Remember that leadership is about getting people to do things they would not ordinarily do.  That is accomplished by training them in how to be a fully-functioning team member.


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

15 thoughts on “Always Train Your Crew

  1. Darryl Sitterly

    Very straight-forward idea to “train your crew.” I guess that many leaders don’t. And that is a common failure right up there with immoral and illegal behavior. I for one never saw many leaders so directly involved in the training of their people that it made much of a difference. Perhaps if I’d been in the military that would have been different. I can see the benefits.

  2. Sally

    I’m new to Mr. Satterfield’s leadership blog. I hope to make a contribution on occasion. Thank you to all who are working to add to the conversation. I’ve not seen an active blog like this in a long time.

  3. Valkerie

    General Satterfield, of course you know what I’m going to write — that you have once again taken an overlooked topic and pushed it into our minds for consideration. Thanks!

  4. Joe Omerrod

    My dad spent 6 years in the Navy and he used to tell me great stories about the many traditions of naval service. I especially liked stories from the beginnings of the US navy and the struggles that those men went through at the time. Can we even imagine the difficulty of a sailing ship in bad weather. Today, we MUST have air conditioning but then they didn’t even have heat on those ships.

    1. Lynn Pitts

      We do have it pretty easy today, don’t we? I will also point out, in my humble way, that good leadership means adopting tradition for the simple reason that it makes our lives easier and less likely to experience unforeseen obstacles.

      1. Yusaf from Texas

        …. and yet no one is willing to admit how easy things are today at least compared to the previous centuries.

      2. Otto Z. Zuckermann

        Yes, and why I keep coming back to Gen. Satterfield’s blog.

  5. JT Patterson

    Gen. Satterfield, I read the entire Navy Engineers “Lament Going Ashore” and found it intriguing. Thanks for another great article.

  6. Max Foster

    True, a naval tradition but also a ‘requirement’ for leaders. This is found wherever you find humans who are interested in making things better for everyone else. That is why leadership and morality go together and are, in fact, inseparable.

    1. Army Captain

      Good points, Max. “Good” and morals go together and not for some simple reason. That is why we have leaders. Those who are willing to stand up to adversity (courage), solve the big problems (duty and selflessness), and overcome everyday obstacles (tenacity) are those that are of great value to our communities.

    2. Eva Easterbrook

      Excellent points Gentlemen. Thank you! Also, I liked today’s article in that I also learned a little about the US Navy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.