21st Century Leadership Training

Navy – Professional Development:


CAPT G. Mark Hardy III, USNR Commanding Officer NR SPAWAR HQ 601


In 1997, two Navy captains had a vision of providing professional leadership training to our Reserve officer corps. Their names were John Cotton and Kirk Unruh. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, VADM John Cotton succeeds VADM Totushek as the Director of Naval Reserve; and RDML Unruh has passed to RADM Roger Nolan flag sponsorship of the Naval Reserve Leadership Training Continuum (NRLTC). This month, the culmination of their vision will roll out as Reserve Officer Leadership Course (ROLC) version 5.

But I already went to ROLC!

Have you already attended ROLC? Great. COMNAVRESFORINST 1550.13 states “all Drilling Reserve officers should attend the ROLC within one year after accession into the NR and thereafter at intervals of not more than five years.” Lots of hands go up when I ask classes, “Who’s here because you were told to be here?” Isn’t that disappointing? Instead of treating leadership training as a burden, shouldn’t our attitude be to learn as much as we possibly can? As military leaders, we owe it to our sailors to be the best we can at leadership.

After reviewing literally thousands of student feedback forms, the NRLTC National Leadership Team, led by CAPT Gar Wright, realized that death by PowerPoint just wasn’t cutting it. So, they embarked on a yearlong effort to update the course. Starting with the Active-Duty Prospective Commanding Officer (PCO) course at the Command Leadership School (CLS) in Newport, RI, a team of curriculum developers, led by CAPT John Needham, fine-tuned the course to focus on Reserve issues. The results are nothing short of spectacular. ROLC v5 is a much more interactive, dynamic seminar that features ten videos, two case studies, nine team exercises, and a capstone event using a multimedia, interactive program comparable to commercial leadership training programs. Progressing through the foundation of personal leadership (“me”), unit leadership and team building (“we”), and organizational success (“us”), the course represents a quantum improvement over previous versions.

Civilians pay hundreds of dollars to receive leadership training like this. The Naval Reserve offers it at no charge. ROLC v5 is really that good. Using DVD technology, and the wizardry of CAPT Dave DeLancy who owns his own video production studio, students no longer have to endure endless battle scenes just to capture an inspiring moment here or there. Henry V is out. Norman Schwarzkopf is in. “Men in Tights” is out. “The Making of a Sailor” is in. This is professional grade leadership training written specifically for Naval Reservists.

Why Bother?

Noted leadership author Kenneth Blanchard observes, “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” In our all-volunteer Naval Reserve, this is even more pertinent. Leaders are made, not born. RADM Nolan notes that, “‘On the job’” leadership “must be supplemented with ‘off the job’ leadership training.” Competition for leadership billets in the Naval Reserve is tougher than ever. Only one in sixteen CDR’s received a command billet at the FY04 Apply Board. Only one in nine CAPT’s were awarded a command. These boards look for proven, documented leadership ability. A “five” in leadership in a FITREP implies an officer is a leadership expert. But how can a reporting senior give a “five” to an officer who hasn’t completed leadership training? Would you want to fly with a pilot who’s never been to flight school? ROLC v5 can help you break out of the pack.

What’s next?

Instead of a single, one-size-fits-all course, the Naval Reserve is moving toward a Leadership Training Continuum that integrates leadership training throughout an officer’s career. This course represents the intermediate leadership course. A Basic Officer Leadership Course is proposed as part of the direct commission officer training at the Naval Reserve Personnel Development Center. Soon, a Command Leadership Course will be integrated with the Naval Reserve PCO Course. We will enjoy a suite of leadership training throughout our Naval Reserve careers.

What can I do?

NRLTC and ROLC have a new home. Do you have a Navy Knowledge Online (NKO) account? You should. It is the online medium of choice for the Navy. Log in, and from the NKO homepage, select “Naval Reserve,” then “NAVRES NRLTC,” and finally “NROLC.” Click on “Review schedule and register” in the upper right-hand corner, and you can enroll online at the course closest to your home.

Interested in doing more than just attending? Our CNO, ADM Vern Clark, said, “I want it known far and wide that we will evaluate our leaders in the United States Navy first upon their successful commitment to mission accomplishment, and second upon their successful commitment to build, grow, and develop our people.” VADM Cotton is more specific, “Our very best CO’s should be facilitating the ROLC classes.” If you are a CDR or CAPT who has served successfully in a command billet, has excellent presentation skills, and possesses a passion for leadership, please click on the “I want to become a facilitator” link on the Web site to send a message to your NRLTC Regional Director. Our facilitator cadre receives unique opportunities. CAPT Ed Rogers, CLS Director, has invited the best ROLC facilitators to attend the PCO class, side-by-side with Active Duty officers headed to squadron, ship, submarine, or shore command. Wow. Stephen Covey says that the best way to learn is to teach someone else. What better way to learn leadership skills than by becoming part of the leadership team? Being leaders is what we do. You can help our Naval Reserve do it right. Hope to see you soon in the classroom!


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