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Take the Helm!

Kris driving the boat

I have always enjoyed sailing—the use of sails to “catch” the wind to propel the boat forward is such a rush! And the slap of the waves against the hull can be exhilarating. Unless, of course, the wind is not blowing, and we don’t feel or hear these telltales. On days that we do not have wind, we adjust the plans and relax in a different way. We may go anchor the boat and swim. Or we may attach the grill to the guardrail and cook up some brats, hotdogs, or hamburgers. Sailing is the priority, but cooking up the food is always a decent alternative. I am thinking about this because autumn is approaching, which means the sailing season is also nearing its end in my part of the world.

Sailing is to boats like leadership is to an organization. Sailing requires a more specialized set of skills to maneuver a boat across the water. Leadership requires a more specialized set of skills to work with and raise the level of productiveness of an organization. Driving a motorboat does require some skill; just as managing a process or a group of people requires a certain level of skill as well. However, there are some people who drive motor boats who should not be driving them, just as there are some who are managers who are not leaders.

Some boat operators don’t seem to realize there are rules of the water—maybe it’s not the rules but the lack of common sense. While there are no lanes on the lake, it is still not recommended to drive haphazardly in front of other boats. I find this particularly mind-racking when some one tows their children on an inflatable tube or water skis, and they drive across my bow. In general, boats do not have brakes. And sailboats are influenced by the sail and the amount of wind that they “catch.”

Think of it in this manner: If you were driving a “smart” car on the interstate and passed a semitruck at speeds of 65+ mph, how much room would be prudent before the “smart” car merged back into the truck lane?

I’ve had a motorboat, towing a small child, come within 25 feet of my sailboat bow. This scares the dickens out of me … and my crew and passengers knew it! I wish people knew how to handle their boat and care for their passengers—both for their safety and their entertainment.

Businesses take unnecessary risks as well. I am amazed at the number of companies who promote people to new positions of responsibility but do not equip them to better handle the expectations. I am all for hiring from within, but it is dangerous to not prepare and equip people for their new and greater responsibilities. Just because a person handled the previous job well does not lead to being successful in the subsequent job. Without training, people often rely on the successful attributes that got them to the new opportunity, but then realize that they are ill-equipped to move forward in the new position. A person who consistently gets the job done and is promoted to a position that oversees others who do the same sort of work will follow one of three paths: (1) manage a team of people who are responsible for the projects, (2) lead and serve a team to better accomplishments, or (3) micromanage any of the team members and their work. Which of the three will likely happen without training? With training, it is almost assured that success will follow.

At Leadership Harbor, we help you learn in a safe environment (the Harbor) and get prepared with new leadership skills to “sail the Seven Seas.” Professionals hire people who bring focus to certain interests; amateurs keep figuring it out on their own.

Contact us for a free discussion!

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