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Old 04-01-2011, 17:24   #16
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A ship cannont be run as a democracy,however it's been my experience that a
captain who explains and discusses his major decisions with the crew (especially the most experienced) not only will get the crew working with a will,but will get valuable feedback from others on issues that he may not have considered.We're talking here of a cruise and not a race or military operation where immediate obedience is paramount. It is for these reasons I avoided military service. If I step aboard anothers yacht ,I gulp and recognize that I will do as I am told ( and somewhat more) and that I am giving up some independence if I decide to ship out. The time for decision is at the dock, not underway.I have steped back on the dock a few times when the music wasn't right and missed out on some great adventures and misadventures.







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Old 04-01-2011, 17:26   #17
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NOLS - National Outdoor Leadership School comes to mind.
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Old 04-01-2011, 17:27   #18
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Btw, you can't give orders if you can't take them.
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Old 04-01-2011, 17:30   #19
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Old 04-01-2011, 17:49   #20
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In this day and age "leadership" is a dying art, supplanted now by "management". In my mind you "manage" sheep and cattle. You "lead" men. No matter the venue or circumstances.

As stated, a leader must lead by example. A leader must show confidence even when he is uncertain. A leader will put the safety and comfort of subordinates far above his own. A leader may seek advice, but "democracy" and leadership seldom go hand-in-hand.

The toughest part of being a leader is that you must often stand alone from your crew. It is hard to be an "equal" one moment and then "the boss" the next. Tough balance on a small sailboat.

The military is currently the only place leadership is developed these days. As suggested, look to military manuals for the basics.
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Old 04-01-2011, 17:56   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rover88 View Post
The military is currently the only place leadership is developed these days. As suggested, look to military manuals for the basics.
I think that's a bit of a myth, as high ranking officers in the military are never to be seen anywhere near a combat zone. The cannon fodder certainly get told to follow orders. The sort of leadership youre looking for on a boat would certainly involve being a team player, with shared risks and responsibility (as opposed to issuing commands from some remote nuclear bunker)
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Old 04-01-2011, 18:00   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idpnd View Post
I think that's a bit of a myth, as high ranking officers in the military are never to be seen anywhere near a combat zone. The cannon fodder certainly get told to follow orders. The sort of leadership youre looking for on a boat would certainly involve being a team player, with shared risks and responsibility (as opposed to issuing commands from some remote nuclear bunker)
Ahhhh... the voice of reasoned analysis... not hyperbole from Neville Shute's books or Master and Commander movies
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Old 04-01-2011, 18:27   #23
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I have been running a research boat for almost 20 years now and have had thousands of people on board over that time. I also came from a maritime academy where we were taught military style leadership.

Under the big tent of being a good captain is leadership abilities, but there is more to it than that. Military style leadership does not necessarily blend in with having civilians on board. Although a vessel is a dictatorship in one sense where the captain has the bottom line, one cannot rule the roost in the same manner with other issues. In the military, everyone is taught to obey orders unless it's an illegal order. This is not how civilians are taught. Civilians more need to know the reason for what you want and then if they agree, most will do it.

I find one of the best philosophies is never to treat someone else like you are above them...never do this in fact. Treat people like they are team members where everyone has the common goal of accomplishing the mission at hand. Most people really like working as a team and when someone is screwing up, then quite often someone else will mention the problem to that person. The problem is quite often self-correcting requiring no intervention from the Captain. I really like to play up cruises as a mission where we are all team members with a common goal. Most people really like this attitude and challenge, it's also very true.

Acknowledge, respect and utilize everyone's talents. People like to show their knowledge and skills. Genuinely complement people for doing a good job in front of others. Assume people want to do things right. Give them a chance in this respect.

Be Mr Positive, not Mr. Negative. A Captains overall attitude about the crew, the boat, the conditions and about life in general has a huge effect on people. A Captains attitude quite often becomes the whole attitude and atmosphere on board.

There is a certain level of mental maturity one must possess to be a Captain. You either have enough maturity or you do not. Nobody wants to take order from or to feel their life is in the hands of a juvenile.

You are always being watched which means you cannot ever do something you would never want someone else to do or to say. Don't be a hypocrite.

I have been around a few egotistical, arrogant Captains. They eventually lose the respect of the crew. I have also been around those who lose their temper easily. Never lose your temper with anyone. Always stay calm no matter how pissed off you might be inside. Lose your temper and you start to look like a lunatic, which causes a loss of respect. When a captain loses peoples respect, he becomes much less effective at accomplishing the task at hand and the entire mission.

Respect is not granted because you are the Captain, respect is earned over time because you actually earned it.

I hope this helps some.
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Old 04-01-2011, 18:46   #24
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I think putting forward the military as an example of leadership training is very misquoted and totally unsuitable for a modern sailboat being sailed for " fun"

Also throw away this nonsense that you have to be able to be more competent then the crew or that you can do any job they can etc. None on this is necessary to captain a crew. It's a key competent of a good capitan that you recognise the strengths and weakness of your crew AND yourself and deploy the strengths to the best advantage. You may not be the best navigator on board or the most competent to fix the diesel. So what that's not the point . You deploy crew to overcome this.

The main features of a good " leisure" captain are

Decision making skills
Decisiveness tempered with good advice
Understanding crew personalities
Explanations of ones actions
Making sure crew have a clear understanding of what required of them
Dealing with crew personal issues or where people fail in a sympathetic manner
Don't become too friendly with any one member of the crew. Socialise but don't descend to being one of the boys.

The key thing to remember is that while it's not a democracy these people ( crew) are volunteers in a leisure pursuit. Hence they have to be treated as near equals , involved in all aspects of running the boat etc. The worst skippers are overbearing or frightened of showing weakness and it's leads to a confusion aboard. The biggest problems tend to occur when in extreme conditions , newbie crew get scared and start questioning decisions and competent crew get dragged into public battles over such decisions. In these cases you have to impress on the competent that everyone accepts the decision process, even if that means you take their advice.

The other big thing , always where ever possible ensure that meals are good quality and regular. Ensure the watch systems suits the crew experience and expectation use different watch arrangements as needed. Coach newbies, give experienced crew room to demonstrate their skills.

Most of all especially if your also the owner, don't treat the boat like a dolls house, the crew have to feel ownership. Things may break etc , suck it up.

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Old 04-01-2011, 19:06   #25
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Wow, how many of you guys actually have any military experience?

No offense intended, but the reason I ask is that a lot of you seem to keep saying how military style leadership isn't appropriate on board a small sailboat. I agree that "hollywood" type military leadership has no place, but good military leadership isn't all about "making" someone do something. It's about getting people who might be scared to death, and under less than ideal conditions, to do something, often heroic, they never thought they could.

Sure sounds like sailing in bad weather to me.

The immediate obedience to orders part is more about protecting them, e.g., "get your head down," than it is about "clean the head." There's actually a place for that on a boat too, especially in an emergency. (head down, not clean head)

I don't know that I'd recommend Army manuals (being a Marine and all), but there are plenty of examples of good leaders in literature, often written by authors who were actually there. "Fields of Fire," written by Sen Webb from Virginia is a great example. The leaders portrayed in his book aren't necessary good or bad, but you can learn a lot about leadership from it -- both what works and what doesn't.

Disclaimer: I make no claim to be any sort of a leader myself -- that's why I singlehand.
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Old 04-01-2011, 19:19   #26
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Wow, how many of you guys actually have any military experience?

No offense intended, but the reason I ask is that a lot of you seem to keep saying how military style leadership isn't appropriate on board a small sailboat. I agree that "hollywood" type military leadership has no place, but good military leadership isn't all about "making" someone do something. It's about getting people who might be scared to death, and under less than ideal conditions, to do something, often heroic, they never thought they could.

Sure sounds like sailing in bad weather to me.

The immediate obedience to orders part is more about protecting them, e.g., "get your head down," than it is about "clean the head." There's actually a place for that on a boat too, especially in an emergency. (head down, not clean head)

I don't know that I'd recommend Army manuals (being a Marine and all), but there are plenty of examples of good leaders in literature, often written by authors who were actually there. "Fields of Fire," written by Sen Webb from Virginia is a great example. The leaders portrayed in his book aren't necessary good or bad, but you can learn a lot about leadership from it -- both what works and what doesn't.

Disclaimer: I make no claim to be any sort of a leader myself -- that's why I singlehand.
If you put crew on a leisure boat into situations that require heroism then I question what your at. Such situations might occur very very rarely.

I am sceptical that anything in military training can be useful in a small volunteer crew out for fun. ( not disdainful just skeptical ). Modern consensus based team management techniques might be more useful. The best skippers are those that never actively seem to be " skippering"

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Old 04-01-2011, 19:19   #27
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When deciding on which leadership skills to use, you also have to consider the reasons for why you are out there. You are not out there pushing cargo around to make money. You are not out there showing force or blowing things up. On a yacht, you are out there for the fun and adventure. The management and leadership style cannot be the same for all. Your chosen leadership style must match the people and the situation.
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Old 04-01-2011, 19:42   #28
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goboatingnow: The point I was trying to make was that while dismissing "military" leadership on one hand, your description of leadership almost perfectly describes a good Marine Corps small unit leader.

Good leaders aren't disciplinarians, they don't need to be.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that.

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Old 04-01-2011, 19:45   #29
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I agree, some aspects of how the military does it does apply to recreational boats and their crews.
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Old 04-01-2011, 20:10   #30
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OK Guy's... judgement time... was I right or was I wrong...
Back in the 90's I was delivering a boat from Spain to the UK.... some friends who'd day sailed out of Poole with me a few times and he'd come across to Cherbourg a couple of times asked if they could join me on a leg... I said cool...
They joined me in Fuengirola Spain where we spent a couple of days while they acclimatised and got the feel of the boat before setting of for Gib.
Lovely sail down to Gib where we cut in close and headed for Port as a strong Wsly was blowing... anyway... 3rd day we were having Sunday lunch when I glanced up and saw the cloud shifting... "Ok guys eat up we're away.. the winds shifting..."
We ran back to the boat and cast off and headed out.... it was flat calm in the bay and as we drew level with the Wstrn corner the Estly started... by the time we got to Tarifa it was up to 5 gusting 6 and wind over tide.... Lindsey was below moaning and Pete (6'3" 18st) was sitting in the cockpit with me at the wheel...
The wind picked up to 7 and Lind's began moaning "We're gonna die" repeatedly... Pete by this time was white knuckling and looking back at Tarifa.. "Why can't we go there.." I tried explaining about the hazards of into the wind... wrecks etc but by now he was standing up and looking dangerous.... just then Lindsay screamed as a big wave lifted the stern and I figured if I did not do something I was gonna get punched in the head and drowned soon after as a novice tried to do the impossible...
" Ok" I said... "but it wont be easy"...
Pete looked happier and sat back down... I looked astern and judged the waves... as the pattern worked I made the turn just as one had passed under with a nice long trough before the big bugger of the set... we swung round and met it head on.... the bow flew up... Lindsay shot of the bunk and landed on the floor with a blood curdling scream as the boat dropped from under her... and Pete with a very white face conceded that maybe it was not such a good idea....
So round we went again on the smaller waves of the next set and continued West... 2hrs later we were past Trafalgar and 2hrs after that we were motoring in long lazy swells with the lights of Cadiz on the stern quarter....
The rest of the trip was great and they remember it as the holiday of a lifetime... tho' Pete often relates the tale in the Pub to friends when I'm back home... how I develop my "Manic Grin" as he describes it and sang 'Knights in White Satin.." so he knew deep down everything was OK..
What would you have done differently..??
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