Navy unveils new culture campaign to show ‘what right looks like’

by Tommy Grant

The Navy rolled out a new effort this month to reframe Navy culture and provide leaders the right tools to understand their sailors better.

The so-called “Culture of Excellence 2.0″ initiative aims to align several existing Navy programs and concepts and place them into a single resource to help command triads improve their culture, a naval administrative message, or NAVADMIN, released this month said.

“In doing so, we will raise the level of our lowest-performing commands and make our best commands even better,” the NAVADMIN said. “COE 2.0 will prepare us to operate in uncertain, complex, and rapidly changing environments by ensuring every member of the Navy Team has the opportunity to become Forged by the Sea: becoming the best version of themselves and doing the most valuable work of their lives alongside Sailors and civilians they trust and respect.”

New content released as part of the Culture of Excellence 2.0 includes a visual placemat outlining “what right looks like,” as well as a playbook that details specifics on how leaders at every level can execute the campaign, providing information on suicide prevention, sexual assault prevention and response, and resilience, among other things.

Past initiatives included in the Culture of Excellence 2.0 include the Mental Health Playbook, released in February 2023 that aims to promote mental health conversations between commanders and their sailors, while reducing stigma associated with seeking help.

For example, the guide points leaders to resources so they can help sailors receive proper care and remain on the team, and also outlines how to connect sailors with nonclinical mental health resources amid a nationwide shortage of mental health professionals.

Other initiatives included in the Culture of Excellence 2.0 include the Women’s Initiatives Team the Navy launched this month. The effort aims to foster more inclusive warfighting teams, improve recruitment and retention across the fleet, and provide structure to identifying and eliminating potential barriers for women across the service.

“There’s very little new here, aside from new tools that are designed to help leaders build great leaders and teams,” Rear Adm. Brett Mietus, director of the Navy Culture and Force Resilience Office, told reporters on March 22. “It’s an integrated approach, so there’s an executable framework for every command at every level.”

Although the Navy kicked off an initial Culture of Excellence campaign in 2019, Meitus said it didn’t take off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and because it was too complex. As a result, this new initiative aims to serve as a resource for leaders, rather than place additional requirements on them.

“What we don’t want to do at this point in our Navy is just add another program on top of a tall pile of other programs,” Meitus said. “The products that you see are not Navy instructions or policies – those will come with time. We wanted to communicate with our fleet with where they are, and products that will work for them, and achieve the outcomes we desire.”

Next steps for Culture of Excellence 2.0 include releasing a necessary conversations guide to help others understand those from different backgrounds and walks of life, and updating the Navy Leader Development Framework to include priorities outlined in the Culture of Excellence 2.0 placemat.

“It’s designed to set some hard goals for our leaders, recognizing that folks are able to meet some of those, they’re striving each and every day,” Meitus said. “By having that confidence and building a great culture, each of our leaders from each of our commands are going to get better.”

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