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Submarine Squadron 20 to Conduct 360-degree Review of Commanding Officers

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050329-18
Release Date: 3/29/2005 8:00:00 PM

By Journalist 1st Class Jennifer Spinner, Submarine Group 10 Public Affairs

KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- Four Commander, Submarine Squadron (CSS) 20 commanding officers will participate in a new pilot program to measure leadership assessment, beginning in May.

The program focuses on the participants' awareness and improvements of his emotional and social leadership skills as well as highlighting other leadership competencies and potential behavioral barriers. The program relies on two well-regarded leadership assessment tools; the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory and the LOMINGER VOICES Multi-rater (360) Assessment.

"My job as commodore is to ensure that CSS 20 commanding officers are as effective as possible," said Capt. Steve Struble, CSS 20 commodore. "This program is a great way to help accomplish that."

Struble was introduced to the revolutionary training methods when he attended a similar Chief of Naval Operations-sponsored program in the summer. He was so impressed with the methods and the impact that he decided to incorporate them into the training program at CSS 20.

The program took on even greater importance when it was "adopted" by Submarine Force Atlantic during the January Group Commander's Conference in New London.

"360 evaluations were another bullet on the list during a presentation on things being considered to improve commanding officers' judgment," said Struble. "I volunteered my experience with the program and plans to implement a similar program in Kings Bay, and Vice Adm. Munns [Commander, Naval Submarine Forces] signed on."

Two separate assessments will be conducted, one in late May and one in August, to allow all eight commanding officers to participate. The assessments consist of two formal on-site sessions followed by one-on-one professional feedback for participants.

The BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory is considered the premier measure of dimensions of competence in emotional and social functioning. It is self-scored and presents five areas of measurement in comparison to a well-researched and validated standard - intrapersonal, interpersonal, stress management, adaptability and general mood. Fifteen dimensions are included within the five areas of measurement, and the tool stresses the importance of understanding the emotional impact decisions have on people.

"It's easy to forget that people are truly our greatest asset," said Struble. "We can become so structured and procedurally-driven that we fail to consider how the decisions we make will impact our people. Of course, mission comes first but it is important to remember the people who make the mission possible. This instrument helps the subject gain a better understanding of where he stands on an emotional level."

The second portion of the program is the LOMINGER VOICES Multi-rater 360 Assessment. This assessment is also scientific and database driven and, in an ideal environment, results in an honest and frank assessment of the subject's perceived strengths and weaknesses.

"This assessment takes input from the subject, his boss and supervisors, as well as his peers and subordinates," said Struble. "With the exception of 'one of one' raters, such as the boss, all inputs are kept anonymous. This maintains a safe environment for the raters and eliminates fear of retribution from the subject - especially among subordinates."

Struble also noted that the 360 assessment gives subjects a more realistic idea of how their ideas and actions are perceived.

"Let's say you make a certain decision and it is well received by your peers but not by your subordinates," said Struble. "The 360 assessment shows you the degree by which the perceptions differ. Then you can ask yourself why the difference is so great. After all, the true effectiveness of communications lies solely with the receiver, not the transmitter."

The assessment program doesn't rely solely on self-exploration. Each commanding officer will meet with an executive coach to review and interpret the results of both instruments, followed by a two-hour group debrief and developmental goal setting session. Additional follow-up includes a 550-page developmental coaching guide for each commanding officer that details the VOICES instrument for further study and a one-hour telephone follow-up with an executive coach.

In the end, the goal of this program is building better Navy leaders.

"This is an investment in the future of the Navy," said Struble. "But the windfall is that participants will certainly benefit on a personal level. This training focuses on self-awareness and inter/intrapersonal leadership skills."

"These tools help develop the 'right brain' aspects of awareness, judgment and creativity, rather than the 'left brain' functions of technical knowledge and procedural compliance that we so often focus on as Submariners," he added.

Struble said he anticipates a four- to six-month post-assessment period to judge the effectiveness of the pilot.

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