6 Leadership Lessons from the Costa Concordia Captain

Bravery, Failure, Leadership Thoughts, News 14 Comments »

Were there any leaders on the Costa Concordia?

 

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:

  1. It’s not “if” bad things will happen, but “when”.  We must always be prepared.
  2. When bad things happen, we must meet the challenges head on.  We cannot deny them.  We cannot hide from them.
  3. Leaders must care first about those under their care.  Will anyone follow that captain again when he gets out of jail?
  4. It’s okay to make mistakes.  It’s not okay to make people suffer or die covering them up.
  5. When everyone knows there’s a crisis, communication is key.  Silence creates more problems.
  6. 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.

Let’s learn from this.

Have a safe night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Costa Concordia Videos

Announcement that it’s only an electrical problem as crew members walk around with life jackets on. (Raw footage)


News report about the Costa Concordia captain


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The Secret Way Leaders Make People Disappear

Attention Era, Failure, Leadership Thoughts, Loneliness, Social Media 17 Comments »

Many leaders are finding themselves developing a new skill set.

They’ve become magicians.

Like the movie “The Prestige”, they’ve become very good at making people disappear. In some cases, they don’t even know how they’re doing it and are confused when it happens.

Even though it’s against the strict “Magicians Code”, I’m going to let you in on the secret.  Maybe you can learn something from it.

It’s really easy to make people disappear.

 

Just ignore them!

  • Clients getting annoying? Ignore their needs.
  • Talented team members monopolizing your schedule? Close your door and don’t return emails.
  • Friends or family taking up too much time? Stop talking to them.
  • Annoyed with pesky investors? Don’t share information with them.

It works for social media connections, mentors, and significant others too.  Almost everything will disappear eventually if you ignore it long enough.

That’s probably not something you should ignore.

Have a good night,

Aaron@Biebert

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If Winning Means Losing, How Do We Win?

Bravery, Business Opportunities, Failure, Family, Goals, Leadership Thoughts 23 Comments »

What is the cost of winning?

 

I tried something new today in the car.  Instead of tweeting/texting/emailing, I thought about the things I’ve lost in pursuit of my life goal.   Maybe you can relate?

It’s actually quite startling:

  • I was once the ultimate romantic, using my creativity to surprise my wife with special tokens of my love.  Now I’m an average husband and I sell my creativity to others.
  • When I was a kid, I rode my bike for miles to buy my mom a birthday present. In September, I forgot her birthday.
  • I have seven younger siblings.   I hardly know them anymore.
  • Old friends hear from me once a year, when Facebook tells me it’s their birthday.
  • Years ago I was in peak physical shape. Now I’m overweight and out of breath after playing with my kids.

Even though I have experienced the joy of victory, I lost much to get there.

What have you lost?

 

Why?

Despite all the talk about pushing ourselves, delegating, working harder, smarter, or longer, there remains a limit to what one can do each day.

Successful leaders must make choices. Real choices will always lead to loss. Such is the nature of scarcity.

Focus on business? Lose relationships.
Win a war? Lose lives.
Get fame? Lose privacy.

Sometimes you must lose to win.  It’s your choice.

Losers won’t choose. Winners are losers. Choosing means losing. Isn’t life complicated?

How do we win?

 

We win when we’re aware of what we’re losing, but our goals still matter more.  We win when we sleep soundly at night.

Chase worthy goals tonight,

Aaron@Biebert

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Are You Too Stubborn to Let Go?

Changing Times, Failure, Goals, Leadership Thoughts 10 Comments »

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.

Let go tonight,

Aaron@Biebert

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10 Different Ways to Say Thank You on Thanksgiving

Giving, Leadership Thoughts 8 Comments »

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.

3. Record a video

If you’d like to thank one person (YouTube example) or a whole group (Facebook example), video is a personal way to say thank you when you can’t be with them in person.

4. Give your time

Giving someone your time is giving them nearly the ultimate gift.

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.

Say thank you.

Have a thankful night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Leadership Lessons from Joe Paterno and Penn State

Failure, Leadership Thoughts, News 16 Comments »

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.

Care 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.

Have an honorable night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Leaders Should be Leadership Experts First

Leadership Thoughts, Milwaukee, Teamwork 15 Comments »

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.

They’re wrong.

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.

Never forget that.

Have a great night

Aaron@Biebert

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Train as You’ll Fight!

Leadership Thoughts, Motivation 10 Comments »

Great coaches and military leaders know their teams must train the same way they plan to fight.

Sloppy training? Sloppy behaviors.
Slow practice? Slow execution when it matters.

It always matters!

For those 8pm Warriors aspiring to run a department, division, or business someday, I offer this challenge:

Start acting like it now.

Like it or not, but you’re always training. You’re either training for something special or training yourself to be just like everyone else. What you do today affects who you become tomorrow.

Don’t wait until your best is needed.  It’s needed now.

Years before it counted, some of the greatest people I know were leading themselves, pushing their limits, asking, listening, and learning. Some say that success happens when luck meets preparation.

Prepare today.

Even when it doesn’t seem like anyone’s watching, be great.

Your day will come.

Have a preparation night,

Aaron@Biebert

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