Stavridis to SOUTHCOM: Display Professional Qualities in All You Do
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
MIAMI, Oct. 20, 2006 On his first full day as a combatant commander, Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis today thanked his new “shipmates” for an “absolutely superb” change of command and told them what he expects of them.
Navy Adm. James Stavridis, commander of U.S. Southern Command, shares his command philosophy with members of SOUTHCOM during an All Hands Call, Oct. 20. He urged everyone throughout the command to embody civility, quiet confidence, creativity, teamwork and collaboration, determination, and honesty and integrity. Photo by Kathleen T. Rhem
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Stavridis assumed command of U.S. Southern Command yesterday from Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, who will assume command of U.S. military operations in Europe and NATO forces. He spoke to people assigned to the headquarters in a tent here this morning.
The admiral noted servicemembers assigned to SOUTHCOM headquarters face challenges because of a high cost of living and no nearby military base for support. “We’re a very uniquely situated large military command,” he said. “And I pledge to you that I will work very hard on the people issues involved in making sure that your quality of life is appropriate to the level of work that all of you put into this command.”
Stavridis also told the 900 or so military, civilian and contractor members of the headquarters that he expects civility, confidence, honesty and creativity out of them, among other qualities.
“At top of that list, I would put civility. Civility is a word that’s not often used in our society today,” he said. “We tend to move a little too fast. We’re going at it real hard. We don’t slow down to be kind to each other. I think that’s an important quality in any organization.”
He urged SOUTHCOM members to hold their tempers and remain calm in tackling problems. “It’s the same thing we ask of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen when we go into combat,” he said. “It doesn’t do any good to blow up, fall apart, start screaming. You’ve got to stay calm; you’ve got to work through the problem.”
Stavridis also urged those in his command to exhibit “quiet confidence.”
“No one likes people who brag; no one likes people who are showy,” he said. “It’s a good quality to be a little bit understated, to deliver a little bit more than you promised. Deeds, not words, are what count.”
Teamwork and determination are vital for the command’s success, the admiral said. “In a command like this that’s small yet has enormous responsibilities, we live or die on the basis of our ability to work together as a team, to back each other up, to cross reference each other, to take on tasks that may not be exactly in your lane but you see a need and you jump up and get it done,” he said.
“We do hard work; we don’t have an enormous level of resources -- that requires that we be very determined to get our mission done,” Stavridis said. “It’s easy to feel great about yourself and your organization when everything’s going right, the quality of a person is how they react when things aren’t going right.
“Be a person with true grit,” he added. “Be someone who is determined to get the job done.”
Stavridis called honesty and integrity “bedrock for everyone.”
“We don’t lie, cheat or steal in this command,” he said. “We do the right thing, even when it’s the hard thing.”
Finally, he said, because of the vast geography and diversity of U.S. Southern Command’s area of responsibility, creativity may be the most vital attribute for SOUTHCOM members.
“We live in a fascinating, wonderful hemisphere,” he said, noting that representatives from many countries in the region were present at the gathering.
“This is our home, the Americas,” Stavridis said. “And what it will require (to succeed in our mission) is creative work and understanding, cooperation, teamwork.”
He urged all the members of the command to apply these personal attributes to their professional endeavors. “The same personal qualities will end up being the things that we can apply to the professional accomplishments here in U.S. Southern Command,” he said.
He urged members of the command to not be shy about sharing ideas. “Every person in this ‘revival tent’ this morning has got a great idea,” he said.
“Shipmates, I look forward to sailing with you,” he told the group. The admiral said he would try to stay away from nautical terms, but that this one fit the occasion. “That’s an important term in the Navy. It’s someone who you’re willing to stand the watch with, to go to sea with, to work with, to go out with, to be around, to respect and to admire,” he concluded. “You’re all my shipmates.”