Good communication and stewardship at MSC

The following blog is written by Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon, commander, Military Sealift Command. It makes three points concerning MSC’s shipmates and future as the admiral begins his first year at the helm of our worldwide organization.

Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon greets representatives during the Korean Flag Shipping Program Working Group Conference June 11 in Washington, D.C.

Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon greets representatives during the Korean Flag Shipping Program Working Group Conference June 11 in Washington, D.C.

As our adventure together begins, here are three points to bear in mind. Our mission is to keep our ship on a steady course through the potentially stormy seas of change, sequestration and budgetary constraints.

First, don’t expect any drastic changes – keep doing the excellent job you already are. I want to learn our system, feel the pulse of our command, understand why MSC enjoys the reputation for excellence that it does. Our MSC brand is strong, and I know it was built on your backs. Everywhere I go, the feedback I get is that MSC is a strong organization! I will tap into that talent and expertise.

Speaking of feedback – it’s the breakfast of champions! I believe in collaboration and teamwork, and that means two-way communication – good, clear communication. The key is to also make it constructive communication. We should all be willing to tell each other when an idea is good, and when it’s not, and we should be able to do that without offending shipmates. We can’t help each other make our MSC even better than it already is unless we’re all willing to give and take. Make no mistake – the helm makes the final decision, but only after everyone gives their best advice.

Finally, in this era of restrained budgets, sequestration and constantly looking for ways to cut costs without adversely affecting our mission, we are all stewards of our taxpayer’s dollars. And since we all pay taxes, it’s in our own best interests to be the best stewards we can be. Let me share an example. Once upon a time I was new in a job and I inherited a Navy sedan that came along with the job. At the time the car was five years old and had only 4,000 miles on it, indicating a usage rate of only 800 miles per year! I don’t know of many small business owners in our country who can afford a vehicle in their business fleet that they only use for 16 miles per week.

Having thought that through, we did the right thing. We turned the car into the motor pool so it could be more effectively used by someone who really needed it. After that, when we needed a car for official business, we checked one out of the motor pool. For some of us, we may need to guard against a sense of entitlement (e.g., I am a big shot now; I deserve a car) and when we spend our Navy’s money, we should ask ourselves how would we act if it was our own personal money, because, in a sense, it is.

Our Chief of Naval Operations says our Navy will be “where it matters, when it matters.” That means our MSC mariners, Sailors and Navy civilians will be there, too. It’s what we do. Our team delivers. It is an honor to serve with you!

 Thanks for your service,

T.K. Shannon

Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

Commander, Military Sealift Command

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