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    MCPON Herdt shares leadership lessons with Djibouti Chief Selects

    William Jones is training to become a U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer. He wasn’t born when Jim Herdt was selected for Chief. Jim Herdt retired as Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy in 2002. He wanted to share his energy with this generation. The 73 year-old former MCPON spent nearly two hours on Tuesday night speaking remotely with the Camp Lemonnier Chief Selects from his Alabama home.

    Jones, of Philadelphia, and 11 other First Class Petty Officers now deployed at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, are training to become Chief Petty Officers. They are immersed in leadership lessons, academic and practical, in which they figure out how to work as a team, use their resources and effectively lead Sailors. Jones and his classmates are working towards a pinning ceremony to be held later this month.

    U.S. Navy Builder 1st Class Alfredo Estrella, of Battlefield, Missouri said that he will remember Herdt’s comments on attitude. “Attitude is everything – and consistency in attitude counts a lot.”

    As MCPON, Herdt oversaw two of the most traumatic events in modern history, the attack on USS Cole and the attacks of Sept 11, 2001. Following questions, Herdt remembered those days with awareness of the sacrifices others had made and the leadership which many of the people he worked with demonstrated.

    He outlined his four Es of leadership. “If you can do only one of these things, do this one,” said the MCPON. “Example. Be a good example,” he said. “Every time you stand in front of a Sailor you’re getting an inspection. You cannot be a leader if you can’t set the example.” He remembered – humorously – how Sailors are tuned in to seeing and distrusting hypocrites. “If you can’t set the example, they’ll laugh at you behind your back.”

    Herdt’s other three Es of leadership are Energy, Expectation and Empathy. He laughed with the Selects while doling out gems of wisdom, noting his frustrations and personal challenges. He acknowledged that he’d been talked out of retirement five times by people he respected. He recounted tales of his 98 year-old mother-in-law’s gratitude to be alive every morning as well as how he and how his team rebuilt the broken oxygen production system of a submarine operating under the ice. There was humor, gratitude, grit and kindness. The Chief Selects -- and a few Chiefs in the room -- soaked up the wisdom with smiles and good cheer.

    Information Systems Technician 1st Class Angelita Crume of Chesapeake, Virginia said, “He was so inspirational!” Crume leads ten Sailors as a supervisor of two work centers. They coordinate the base’s tactical communications using, making sure that handheld radios and call towers work properly on and off base. Camp Lemonnier, a forward operating base of about 5000 troops in Djibouti, supports US missions in Africa, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean. Crume said, “I will be asking my troops what their expectations of me are this week – and every time I lead troops ever again!”

    Herdt closed with a message to leaders of all kinds, but specifically Chiefs. “Your job is to develop Sailors. They don’t need a parent. . . they need someone to help them be better next Tuesday than they are today. Your job is to help them make that transition into being good Sailors, and ultimately, being your relief.”

    The Chief Selects finished the visit by leaving the training room better than they found it. It was clean and neat - and they brought all the chairs back where they came from. As MCPON encouraged them to do, they set the example.



    Date Taken: 01.05.2021
    Date Posted: 01.06.2021 04:07
    Story ID: 386482
    Location: DJ

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