Leadership and Ethics: Investing in the Supply Corps’ Future

Oct. 23, 2014
    To prepare Supply Officers for the ethical and leadership challenges they face in the fleet, the Navy Supply Corps School (NSCS) places an emphasis on the ethical foundations of leadership during formal capstone courses like the Division Officer Leadership Course (DIVOLC), Department Head Leadership Course (DHLC), and Senior Supply Officer Department Head Course (SR SODHC). [capt
2650
VIRIN: 141023-N-ZZ219-2650
]     DIVOLC, DHLC, and the leadership portion of SR SODHC are academic, discussion-oriented courses designed to provide Supply Officers with a broad understanding of the various moral, ethical, and leadership philosophies; they are convened after students complete their respective professional courses such as the Basic Qualification Course (BQC), Supply Officer Department Head Course (SODHC), and SR SODHC, which prepare Division Officers and Department Heads for supply assignments on various platforms throughout the Navy.     The BQC is the foundation required for every Supply Corps officer as the course is intended to build leadership skills and prepare students to be “Ready for Sea” for their initial division officer tour. SODHC is offered to mid-level officers, typically Lieutenants, assuming the duties and responsibilities of Supply Officer on the Navy’s smaller platforms such as surface combantants, smaller amphibious ships, mine countermeasure ships, and submarines. Senior-level officers, taking on the duties as the Supply Officer or Principal Assistants for Large Afloat units including carriers and amphibious assault ships, would attend SR SODHC. All courses emphasize the importance of leadership and ethics and securing the requisite knowledge to properly assess the health of their Supply Division or Department. NSCS always welcomes feedback from the fleet to ensure the training objectives of the different curriculums are meeting the needs of the Navy.     While the BQC, SODHC, and SR SODHC curriculums range in length from 10 to 100 days of training in the following major areas: Supply Management (SM), Food Service (FS), Retail Operations (RO), and Disbursing Management (DM), it is during the formal capstone course, which runs for five days, that the majority of ethical and leadership topics are formally taught through classroom-led instruction, discussion, and scenarios derived from instructor experiences and fleet feedback. Students engage in practical exercises similar to tasks they may encounter in their roles as Division Officers or Department Heads afloat. Instructors develop situations designed to challenge students critical thinking ability to create best solutions for real-world ethical dilemmas. [capt
2651
VIRIN: 141023-N-ZZ219-2651
]     To expand students’ perspective, NSCS invites senior officers from fellow communities to act as guest briefers and share their leadership perspective. With the addition of senior officer insight from the multitude of guest briefers and NSCS, the courses have matured into quality leadership and ethics training which students feel is vital to their success in future positions. A recent graduate of SR SODHC, Cmdr. Babak “Bobby” Barakat summarized his experience at NSCS by saying, “When I reported to SURFLANT [Commander, Naval Surfaces Forces Atlantic] for an intermediate stop and finally my ship, I felt that I was armed and ready.” Cmdr. Barakat serves as the Supply Officer onboard USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) in Norfolk, Virginia. After assuming his duties, Cmdr. Barakat said he felt that he was ready, “to make a powerful difference on [his] ship and Supply Department.”     Leadership and ethics are portions of a continuous learning process, and NSCS is committed to constant development of curriculum designed to increase the students’ abilities. Recently, eight SODHC students were invited to participate in the Department Head Leadership Pilot Course (DHLPC) at the Naval Leadership and Ethics Center (NLEC). The week-long course was taught jointly by NLEC and the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) College of Operational and Strategic Leadership (COSL). According to Cmdr. Kate Standifer, a DHLPC instructor, the Chief of Naval Operations determined it is imperative that the Navy’s future leaders and department heads are educated not only in their areas of expertise, but in ethics and leadership effectiveness as well. She asserts the DHLPC course upholds the NWC’s mission of developing such leaders, combined with a strong sense of preparing its students for real world operations. This was the first trial run of the new DHLPC course. It will be taught again during an October session incorporating refinements to the material based on feedback from students and faculty and from the five observers from NSCS, the Center for Personal and Professional Development, and Commander, Naval Air Forces who watched as the pilot course was taught.     As the needs of the fleet change, NSCS will ensure students attending the BQC, SODHC, and SR SODHC are equipped with the tools to meet those needs through hard-hitting guest speakers, updated curriculum coordinated with Center for Service Support, synchronization with Fleet TYCOMS and continued partnership with the NLEC/NWC. NSCS’ goal is to provide students the knowledge and resources to make ethical choices, demonstrate leadership and become successful Supply Officers. By Lt. Steven Briggs, Navy Supply Corps School