No joke, I just got off a cruise ship today owned by the same company. We watched the news updates of the Costa Concordia sinking while sailing on our ship off the coast of Cuba (see below). It was not amusing.
After reading reports and watching various videos, I have some questions:
Why did the captain go to shore hours before the last passenger?
Why did they continue to tell the passengers it was merely an electrical issue?
Why was the evacuation so disorganized and delayed?
The answer is: Leadership!
In this case, it was a lack of leadership. Here are six lessons we can all take from this leadership debacle:
It’s not “if” bad things will happen, but “when”. We must always be prepared.
When bad things happen, we must meet the challenges head on. We cannot deny them. We cannot hide from them.
Leaders must care first about those under their care. Will anyone follow that captain again when he gets out of jail?
It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s not okay to make people suffer or die covering them up.
When everyone knows there’s a crisis, communication is key. Silence creates more problems.
If you don’t have a real leader, you must be the leader. We need you!
What happened on the Costa Concordia is inexcusable. It is wrong. Someone must make the hard decisions. Someone must communicate.
This wasn’t just a failure of the captain to lead in the moment. It was also a failure of the captain to surround himself with real leaders.
Nobody had to die.
As I’ve said before, there is a place for bravery in a modern world. Leaders must face their mistakes. Leaders must be the first into danger and the last to leave it behind.
Leaders must speak clearly, honestly, and with strength to take scared followers and turn them into brave warriors as they face their own battles each step of the way.
In the book “Where the Red Fern Grows“, a boy is able to trap racoons by putting a shiny object inside an opening that is too small to pull a paw out if it’s holding anything.
This is similar to having a cookie inside a jar with a small opening. You can’t fit your hand through unless you leave the cookie in the jar. In this case, the easy solution is for the raccoon to drop the object and move on.
However, despite the obvious fix, a racoon was always trapped in the hole the next day. They give up their life holding on to something worthless.
The raccoon was too stubborn to let go.
Leaders, are you ever that raccoon?
Is that shiny object really important? Are you willing to give up everything for it?
Times are changing. Sometimes it’s okay to let go, to go forward.
Regardless of how hard the last year has been, there are still so many things to be thankful for.
Everyone thanks differently, but leaders must thank bigger and never leave doubt of their appreciation. Take time to do it right. It’s so important.
Here are 10 different ways to say thank you this Thanksgiving:
1. Walk up and say it
It can be as simple as walking up to a team member and telling them how thankful you are for them. You can never say it enough. If you are really thankful, don’t hesitate to say what chokes you up. Be brave. Be thankful. Be vocal.
2. Write a handwritten note
I hate writing handwritten notes, so if you ever get one from me you know I am thankful. I doubt that I’m unique in that way. In a computerized world, handwritten notes will stand out.
Time is money. Time is precious. Say thank you by giving them your time and attention. Share a bottle of wine, write them a Linkedin recommendation, help them move furniture, introduce them to someone who can help them, or just listen.
Whatever you do, make sure it isn’t distracted time. Put the cell phones, text messages, or emails on hold. Your attention will show how thankful you are.
5. Share their creation with the world
In a digital world, sharing is caring. Thank someone who writes, records, or builds something by tweeting, sharing, or blogging about their creations.
6. Give a personal token of your appreciation
I hate gifts that are boring, thoughtless, or sterile. Giving someone a considerate gift says you actually thought about them. It says you are really thankful.
7. Blog about your thankfulness
Although it was general in nature, last Thanksgiving I wrote a “Thank You Notes” blog post and emailed it to the people I was thinking about when writing it. It gave me a chance to demonstrate how strongly I felt, without making it into a public circus. Not everyone is a fan of the limelight.
8. Make them something
If you have any particular skill at crafting nice things, don’t hesitate to bake, build, write, or paint them something as a thank you. Just make sure it’s actually nice.
9. Share a meal
Take them out to lunch or dinner. Breaking bread is a great bonding experience and a wonderful way to say thank you. Some of my best memories are great meals or a bottle of good wine.
10. Pay it forward
The movie “Pay it Forward” was interesting and helped showcase what might be possible if people paid good deeds forward multiple times. If you are thankful to someone you can’t contact, pay it forward.
In a changing world, there is little certainty for what the future holds. What should leaders invest in? Invest in relationships.
This Joe Paterno and Penn State leadership child molestation cover up is sickening.
What’s even worse is that some of it could have been easily avoided. The pain and shame so many feel right now was unnecessary.
It’s clear that some leaders at Penn State covered up disturbing crimes happening on their campus. I won’t point fingers at anyone in particular, but two people are now facing criminal charges. Others are facing moral charges from thousands of people who are wondering why they didn’t do more. Say more.
Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking, not just the “legal minimum”. It means calling the cops when something like this happens, not just calling your boss.
I understand this would have been a major distraction and black eye for their successful football program at the time, but now it may be a crippling blow.
Leaders can work hard to achieve record success, but if they allow unethical behavior on their watch, it may all mean nothing. Regardless of records, legends, or stellar reputations, all leaders will fall when moral issues like this are ignored. There is more to life. There is more to success. Leadership without honor is hollow.
Leaders must have their success and honor too.
“Success with Honor” is Penn State’s motto. Now they have neither.
Surprisingly, I’ve met many leaders who don’t care much about leadership. They would rather be an expert in their “primary function” such as marketing, finance, sales, or engineering. Leadership is a distraction to them.
If your role is to lead people in a particular functional division, you must be a leader first. Your passion must be your people, your team. Not the function.
When you become a leader, you must change your focus from functional expertise, to leading others towards that expertise and success. Leading your flock means more than just flapping your wings stronger, faster, or longer than before. You must set the direction.
You must lead first.
If you’re a CFO, I believe you must lead the finance people, not be the lead finance person. If you are the CMO, you must become great at leading marketing people, not being one.
Function follows leadership.
No one wants to follow a great accountant. They want to follow a great leader.