6 Leadership Lessons from the Costa Concordia Captain

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


When Leadership Doesn’t Matter

Leadership doesn’t matter if…

  • You don’t need to innovate
  • No one competes with your group
  • Everything is automated
  • There is no turnover in staff
  • Everyone knows what your company does

Congrats to those of you who don’t need leadership in your organization.

That’s really neat.

Organizations that don’t value leadership won’t be here in a couple years to need it.  Interesting how that works…

For the rest of us, it’s time to innovate, strategize, recruit, and envision.

Nevertheless, I’m continually surprised by how many managers don’t lead, how many companies cut down their leadership ranks to save money, and how many leaders don’t bother to lead themselves higher first.

Difficult times call for stronger leaders.  We need you tonight.

Have a leadership night,

Aaron@Biebert

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10 Different Ways to Say Thank You on Thanksgiving

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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Your Team is Looking for a Good Fight

Organizations will either come together in a fight for a common goal, or turn inward and fight each other.

Look at any club, family, church, department, nation, or business you are a part of. When does the most infighting take place? Is it during a fight for its life? When pushing towards a common mission?

Nope.

Big, slow moving companies like Microsoft know what I’m talking about. So does the PTA at an already successful school. They’ve lost purpose. They lose focus.

When there is nothing big to fight, they find stupid little things to focus on and whine about. In the end up, they fight each other.

Whether they admit it or not, most people are warriors.

They’re looking for a good fight. They need a mission.

Leaders with a vision can keep people focused on a common goal. They rally their troops and get them fighting together, not against each other.

We need to embrace our team of warriors and give them something to fight for.

All warriors need a mission.



Lead a mission tonight,

Aaron@Biebert

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Leadership Lessons from Joe Paterno and Penn State

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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Life is a Game of Inches

Rarely does one succeed or fail by much.

 

Usually, 8pm Warriors that make something great during their lives can point to key situations where success happened by an inch or two. It might be the large client that changed their mind and chose you, or the time you found just enough capital to push through a slow period.

Those victories are won by an inch. Every inch, every chance mattered for success.

The same goes for failure.

 

One of the reasons I am so passionate about pushing my absolute limits is because everywhere I look, I see inches. I try to take every inch when I can, not knowing how far I really have to go to reach my goal.

Even so, I am worried about missing by a couple inches. It’s one of my greatest fears and cause of numerous agonizing defeats.

I’m not alone.

We all need inches and tonight is the best time to find them.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

PS. One of my friends mentioned that this pep talk below really fits with this topic. I agree. Check it out.


 

I’ve made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who’s ever loved me, and lately, I can’t even stand the face I see in the mirror.

You know when you get old in life, things get taken from you. That’s part of life. But you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches. And so is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small. I mean…one half a step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow too fast, you don’t quite catch it.

The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game, every minute, every second.

On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when we add up all those inches, that’s gonna make the difference between winning and losing! Between living and dying!

I’ll tell you this – in any fight, its the guy who’s willing to die who’s gonna win that inch. And I know if I’m going to have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willing to fight and die for that inch. Because that’s what living is!

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Leaders Should be Leadership Experts First

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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Four Steps to Unleash the Power of Confidence

Great leaders find a way to build confident teams.  It’s one of the most overlooked facets of amazing leadership:

How do you get your team to believe in themselves?

Do you send them to watch “motivational” speakers?  Do you make them read the latest “inspirational” book?  Do you lie to them?  Fake it?

There is only one way. It must be earned.

I believe that teams, just like people, develop authentic confidence when they actually experience success and can attribute that success to the work they’ve done.  Some people don’t believe in themselves because they don’t feel they’ve done anything remarkable. Teams can be the same way.

As a leader, you must find a way to get your team believing they can achieve great things. Here are four steps towards the power of confidence:

1. Hire talented people
2. Expect great achievements
3. Celebrate success
4. Remind them of what they are capable of.

Then, push them further.

There is something special about those who have authentic confidence.  For them, anything they chase is within reach. It’s not magic, sorcery, or luck.

It’s the power of believing in yourself.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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