Our Deck Plate Leader of the Week is Master Chief Petty Officer Eric Best, officer in charge (OIC) of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ridley!
Best takes his responsibilities as the OIC of the Ridley very seriously. His devotion to duty is evident from beginning to end of any time underway. At the start, he provides thorough patrol intentions. During unplanned deployments he is standing by ready to get underway. At a patrol’s conclusion, his summaries are robust and set the standard for others in the sector to follow. He displays respect for all, regardless of rank. He fosters high crew morale and utilizes every interaction as an opportunity to learn, mentor, and share knowledge with others. He honors his service and others by taking the time to do things that matter to our fellow Shipmates – supporting fellow chiefs making warrant, volunteering to speak at retirements, and recognizing the accomplishments of his crew.
He is more than an active leader in the local Mess – he leads it certifying as Panhandle Chief of the Mess since June 2020. Utilizing the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to change the as-is business process, he thought outside the box and created solutions for the spring Prospective Chief Petty Officers’ (PCPO) unable to complete initiation. He also assisted with the Spring 2020 Chief's Call to Indoctrination planning and sat on the master chief petty officer (MCPO) review panel at the Lookaway Ceremony. If there is an event and Master Chief is available, he will always do everything he can to support.
Master Chief goes above and beyond to mentor, develop, and assist junior personnel. He takes mentoring to a new level. Not only does he actively seek to maintain a healthy command climate amongst all members of his cutter, he also embraces opportunities to mentor those from other units.
In your opinion, what makes a “good” Chief?
“A good chief understands that they are the fulcrum of the service. The central conduit through which information flows up and down the chain. Able to directly engage junior members through technical expertise, shared experience, and proximity in the workspace, while also equipped to communicate with senior officers and influence policy. A good Chief can thrive in the broadest range of habitats. To maximize their positive impact, they strive to maintain a strong connection with junior ranks by taking a deeper dive into their personal details, struggles and goals. They build rapport through in-depth discussions about advancement and promotional opportunities, physical training or playing group sports, and striking up conversations completely unrelated to work. Conversely, a good Chief respects the broad dominion and time constraints of senior leaders by communicating in short form, quickly getting to the heart of the matter while providing facts, figures and preferably a solution. The greatest attribute of a good Chief is adaptability.
"My advice to junior members is to ambitiously educate yourself on opportunities for professional development early in your career. There is such a broad range of career tracks and educational opportunities, but our junior ranks experience gaps in information. To best position yourself for charting your career, seek guidance from Chiefs and Officers. Ask them the why, how, and when they made their choices and what they would change if they could go back. Read the message board to see solicitations for special educational programs. Go to the Coast Guard Educational and Training Quota Management Command (ETQC) portal site and read everything. Making the most informed decision will maximize your chances for job satisfaction and overall success."