GREAT LAKES (NNS) -- A Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) officer is using a unique concept to help develop leaders in the NSTC domain.
Lt. Tara Smallidge, NSTC's research psychologist and member of the Navy's Medical Service Corps, has proposed introducing Emotional Intelligence (EI) into officer accession training.
EI measures how a person's emotions affect their ability to fulfill a mission, whether the mission is operational, medical, academic, professional or personal.
This emerging field explores many questions to help leaders understand their blind spots, strengths and opportunities for improvement: How are emotions affecting someone's ability to make decisions, communicate and simply get the job done? Is it understood how emotions can derail people or make them more effective? Do emotions control people or the other way around?
"The military is a unique environment where emotional unpredictability is a familiar experience; understanding our emotional baseline will help us navigate through," said Smallidge. "The scientific study of human behavior is enhanced by understanding trends. We are looking at military leadership through a new lens; this is not just about leadership development, but continued leadership sustainment. In order to understand where military leadership is headed we have to know where we currently are by measuring, modifying or enhancing as such. The work being conducted is truly ground breaking and the first time we are looking at military leadership with this perspective."
Smallidge said the military environment, due to its unique stressors and nature of consequences, may require more consistent and keen emotional self-awareness than most other environments.
"In some cases, our lives and the lives of those around us depend on our ability to manage emotions and react accordingly," she said. "One thing that every person on this planet has in common is emotions; the difference is how we handle them."
Smallidge pointed out leadership development does not happen when you take command or are in the pipeline for command; it happens when you first enter the Navy.
"Our actions, our decisions, and the ability to know our emotional default needs to happen well before we enter a leadership role," Smallidge said.
Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans, NSTC commander, has seen the value in her work and supports emotional intelligence training as part of the Naval ROTC curriculum. Additionally, Officer Training Command (OTC) is piloting Emotional Intelligence Assessments for Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island.
"Emotional Intelligence is becoming a more familiar concept in the Navy," said Evans. "And I feel that as the understanding of the EI field expands, our Navy will place increasing emphasis on providing EI training for our future leaders."
Evans and his NSTC staff oversee 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy, as well as the Navy's Citizenship Development program. NSTC includes Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy's only boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes, NROTC units at more than 160 colleges and universities, OTC at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, and Navy Junior ROTC and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.
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For more information about NROTC, visit http://www.nrotc.navy.mil/.
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