U.S. Naval Institute Leadership Essay Contest 2017 (Win up to $5,000)

U.S. Naval Institute Leadership Essay Contest 2017 (Win up to $5,000)

Deadline: September 30, 2017

The U.S. Naval Institute invites entries for the Leadership Essay Contest. The 2017 Leadership Essay Contest focuses on the roles of leadership and character in America’s Sea Services.

Essay contests have been central to the work of the Naval Institute for more than 130 years. They directly fulfill the Institute’s educational mission by encouraging writing on issues of concern to the Sea Services. They provide thought-provoking articles that spur ongoing discussion of these same issues, not only in Naval Institute media, print and digital, but also in other leading defense and national security forums.

The Challenge:

Leadership in the Sea Services: The Junior Officers’ Perspective

Leadership is a much discussed topic, hence this contest will address it from an unusual slant, first by confining itself to the views of junior officers, second by encouraging authors to answer questions along the following lines:

  • What does leadership look like to the led? What does it look like from below? From beside?
  • What qualities and characteristics define leadership for those who are themselves young leaders who aspire to command?
  • Can leadership be defined…or only recognized?
  • Can leadership be taught…or only learned?
  • How can leadership be nurtured?
  • What does character have to do with leadership?
  • What is the role of mentors?
  • What were the great naval leaders saying about leaders and leadership when they themselves were junior officers?
  • What other lessons can be drawn from naval history?
  • Why do so many people believe their experience as a naval officer changed their lives – whether they continued to serve on active duty or not?


  • $5,000, $2,500, and $1,500 will be awarded to the first-, second-, and third-place contest winners, respectively.
  • All winners will also receive a medal and a one-year membership in the Naval Institue.
  • All awards are made on an annual basis and are non-renewable.


  • Only junior officers, O-4 (LCDR/MAJ) and below, from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard will be eligible to participate.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Email essay by 30 September 2017 to: [email protected]
  • Include Leadership Essay Contest Submission on subject line of email
  • Include word count on title page of essay but do not include your name on title page or within essay
  • Provide separate attachment to include biography and complete contact information — i.e., work, home, and cell phone numbers; and home mailing address

The winning essays will be announced in the December issue of Proceedings. Some entrants will be awarded a one-year membership in the Naval Institute.