Last week I had the incredible good fortune and opportunity to join Captain Daniel Grieco and crew for the USS Theodore Roosevelt Family and Friends Day. I have been blessed to call Captain Grieco and his family close friends since we were in high school together. The crew put on an amazing day long exhibition of the ship’s capabilities. The Big Stick, as the ship is affectionately known, is undergoing intensive training and equipment calibration after being out of service during a four year overhaul. Obviously, the F18 and helicopter airshow and the USS Vicksburg’s live fire exercise were incredible displays of military power.
What struck me most; however, were the enthusiasm, excitement and professionalism of the crew. Thanks to Captain Grieco’s brother Mike, we walked the entire 1032 feet of the ship among nine separate decks. We interacted with dozens of the crew from catapult operators, arresting wire mechanics, anchor operators, pilots and combat systems specialists. Of course, I had to go to the crew’s mess (cafeteria in non-Navy terms) and meet with the culinary specialists who serve thousands of meals every day, including both packaged and scratch baked bakery items. They all have important jobs to do and were thrilled to show off their part of the ship’s operations.
In conversations with Captain Grieco, I gave him and his officers’ credit for their leadership that led to such a motivated crew. He completely deferred credit to the individual crew members. He commented that his ship and Navy rely on the crew, especially the younger crew members, to find solutions to challenges and make suggestions to improve efficiency and performance. While the officers set expectations, determine priorities, and when needed provide discipline, it is the men and women of the crew who perform. The officers have to be flexible and nimble communicating with the crew and have to honestly evaluate the opportunities the crew brings forward to avoid getting stuck in the “way we have always done things” trap. There is a real investment in the talented men and women who serve on the USS Roosevelt and they respond very positively.
Naturally, I thought about the parallels with the senior leaders in the baking industry. The ones who are successful invest in and listen to their people; provide strong clear objectives and expectations; and are flexible and nimble to adjust to conditions as they arise. This starts with attracting, training and depending upon high quality people.
ABA is a willing partner in these industry efforts. Our Human Resources group has a long history of exploring talent management and is now focused on determining what talents will be required of the baking workforce of the future. Our Executive Leadership Development Committee (ELDC) has been developing future leaders for the industry since 1980. The next group will be gathering in Washington in a few weeks for some very exciting professional development and policy education. I encourage you to send your future leaders to ELDC in a couple of weeks.