JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii

“Your entire way of life is now changed. More will be expected of you; more will be demanded of you. Not because you are an E7 but because you are now a Chief Petty Officer.” These words from the United States Navy Chief Petty Officer Creed are fresh, but time proven words that will be ingrained into this year’s chosen chief selects.

At the beginning of July and August lives were changed. Chief results for reservists, full-time support and active duty E6’s were released notifying eligible Sailors for one of the highly anticipated milestones of their career. The chief selects now embark on weeks of training, mentorship, rigorous tasks and orders to mold them into wiser leaders and stronger Sailors. The selectees will ultimately join the family of over 30,000 chiefs as they become members of CPO Messes throughout the fleet.

As chief season begins, one of the first steps for chief petty officer (CPO) selectees is CPO Leadership Development Course (CPOLDC). Just as the Sailors have done from the rank of E4 to E6, they are attending an indoctrination leadership course. This year in Hawaii, however, CPO selectees attended a weeklong pilot version for a new CPOLDC aboard Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Aug 5-9. Hawaii is one of three regions asked to participate in the pilot program and provide feedback to Navy Leadership Ethics Command (NLEC), based in Newport, Rhode Island. The two other regions were in Washington state and San Diego.

“This class is more focused on character based training, ethics and building toughness. Whereas some of the older CPO indoctrinations were more competence training,” said Command Master Chief Aaron Lee, a member of one of the groups heading up the pilot program. “This [class] is more teaching Sailors how to be Sailors.”

“Character amplifies competence” is the overall motto for enlisted leader development and a part of the Navy Leader Development Framework presented by Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson. This motto implies that one’s character is a source for demonstrated competence; character is part of the foundation for success.

Chief petty officers are not only regarded for their technical expertise and leadership ability, but they are in an advocate role for Sailors. Chiefs are liaisons, bridging the gap between officers and enlisted personnel. They are mentors for junior Sailors and junior officers alike. It is vital they understand the essence of a Sailor and how a chief’s nature and character can play a vital role in a Sailor’s development.

“I think character is super important in what we do every day as Sailors. The last indoctrination course really didn’t’ go deep into character base training,” said Lee. “We have future leaders, future chiefs, that are going through this course. If anything it is a reminder of what we want our future Sailors to look like.”

The ways in which the Navy trains its leaders is getting an upgrade with the rollout of the CNO’s Leader Development Framework. Enlisted leaders are critical in ensuring the Navy achieves operational excellence and the Navy will demand more from those leaders.

The CPOLDC is a great opportunity to start future chiefs on the right path. As CPO selectees navigate the road from being a first class to becoming a chief they are able to review their own character and how they will need to apply their outlook to their new work environments.

“This class is really emphasizing character and different ways to form line of distinction so one can be in charge of [those who were fellow] first classes and still maintain a good working relationship, which is necessary,” said CPOLDC class participant Yeoman 1st Class Dan Ezell.

The new CPOLDC pilot program is an opportunity for the instructors to share the tenants of the new course while also gathering feedback to ensure the course, and ones like it, are the best they can be. The program strives to make certain that strong foundations are laid and Sailors are prepared for many instances that will inevitably come their way.

“[The CPOLDC] is important because it lays the foundation,” said Ezell. “It’s not going to teach you everything you can expect, but it definitely goes over a lot of scenarios that could happen your first days as a chief and that’s going to be extremely important.”

For many, reaching the conclusion of chief season is a goal and dream coming to fruition. Chief pinning is one of the most memorable events and a turning point for their careers. Chief Messes around the Fleet will welcome their new brothers and sisters and the new chiefs will begin a new chapter in their Navy journey.

“It’s a culmination. For some people, the pinnacle of their career is putting anchors on their collar and training junior and future Sailors,” said Lee. “Like me, I hope the new chiefs take pride in watching Sailors grow.”

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