Chief petty officers are the front-line leaders of the Coast Guard. As influential and inspiring leaders, chiefs, senior chiefs and master chiefs form the bridge between officers and enlisted personnel as well as serving as officers-in-charge of vessels and small boat stations all over the country.
Last week, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp spoke to the Chief Petty Officers Association on the influence and mentorships chiefs have provided to him over the years and stressed the importance of front-line leadership on younger members of the service.
“As has always been true in our Service, we have a lot of young people, who are given tremendous responsibility. Each day, as they carry out our challenging maritime missions, they are forced to take new steps in their professional development,” said Papp. “The difference between whether that step is a stepping stone, a stumble or a fall is chief petty officer leadership. There is no substitute.”
As with every component of Coast Guard leadership, chiefs are part of the essential building blocks necessary to build a mission-ready Coast Guard. Chiefs are able to exercise leadership both “horizontally and vertically.” This unique quality in all chiefs means they lead the enlisted workforce while simultaneously engaging junior officers.
“We need our senior leaders engaged, we need them evaluating our personnel to certify they are qualified – to ensure they posses sound judgment – and to maintain accountability,” said Papp.
Retired chiefs were also in attendance and shared their insights on leadership that stems from decades of experience. Their proximity to active-duty Coast Guardsmen leads to unique perspectives on issues facing today’s Coast Guard.
“Chiefs have an important and long-standing role in this effort. Indeed, as our Chief Petty Officer’s creed states, you have a ‘special responsibility’ and that responsibility is to lead from the front,” said Papp.