Monday, February 18, 2013

Leaders: Don't Become Captain Edward Smith

Many leaders choose to execute their original visions at all costs; even to the detriment of the organization. The normal way to lead is to stay the course at all costs. However, a true leader is able and willing to adjust in real-time, especially when the environment around them changes.

On April 10, 1912, the Titanic, the largest ship ever built, departed from Southampton, England on her maiden voyage to New York City. There was no expense spared when this ship was decked out from bow to stern. A legend even before she sailed, her passengers were a mixture of the world's wealthiest.

The Titanic was touted as the safest ship ever built, so safe that she carried only 20 lifeboats - enough to provide accommodation for only half her 2,200 passengers and crew. There would be no need for lifeboats, because this ship was unsinkable.

Four days into the maiden voyage the ship struck an iceberg, and the rest is history. One day before the fatal collision, Captain Edward John Smith had been warned of the dangerous field of icebergs ahead, but he refused to change course. He had a plan and vision of sailing this massive ship all the way to New York and he was not going to be bothered by some silly iceberg. After all, the Titanic was unsinkable.

Why don't leaders today take notice of the leaders of yesterday? A leader cannot simply blaze a new trail with no regard for anything happening around them. Don't be normal. Don't fall into the trap of "your way or the highway." A good leader not only knows how to adapt, but is willing to make the necessary changes to facilitate the adaptation.

Don't let your business or organization become the titanic and don't start channelling your inner-Captain Smith. Be different.

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