Saturday, November 23, 2019

7 Leadership Lessons from The Sinking of Titanic

Some of you may have watched ?the iconic American Movie?Titanic?starring?Leonardo DiCaprio?and?Kate Winslet?.The Sinking of the Titanic provides invaluable lessons of leadership.

?We have struck iceberg ? sinking fast ? come to our assistance.? On a cold evening?in 1912 that message came blistering across the airwaves. Before they tapped the last bit of Morse code, those words became the epitaph over the lives of the 1,200 people lost on the Titanic. The ship was doomed as it slowly sank into its watery grave.

Why did the largest, most advanced ship of its time?sink?

Those of us who study history or remember the movie- Titanic may know why. It wasn?t the iceberg that caused the disaster. It is clear in my mind the real cause was failed leadership.

Leadership is Responsible

Leadership is responsible for everything the organization does or fails to do. Leadership is more than a wooden figurehead. A leader is not a position, job title, or in this case, the captain of the ship. Leadership is not about power, ego or pride. Leadership is ever-present, touching, motivating, talking, checking and removing barriers, training, preparing, breathing and moving about.

The Titanic?s ill-fated voyage was Captain E.J. Smith?s retirement trip. He was headed for the easy life. All he had to do was get to New York. God only knows why he ignored the facts, why he disregarded seven iceberg warnings from his crew and other ships.

The Titanic still rests on the bottom of the ocean, but we can resurrect the truth and apply a few lessons learned to help us become better leaders.

The Biggest Is Not the Best

Today?s businesses must change course quickly. It took over 30 seconds before the Titanic turned away from the iceberg, but by then it was too late. The larger an organization becomes, the greater its inflexibility. The more difficult and cumbersome it is to steer, to direct and to change course. Large businesses soon grow into huge bureaucracies where rules, regulations, policies, procedures and ?I need permission to make a decision? become the norm.

The Truth Changes

The Titanic was unsinkable, so they thought. The ship designers were so confident in their ship they only had enough lifeboats for half the passengers. The thinking that made us successful yesterday will cause us to fail tomorrow. Our unlearning curve must be greater than our learning curve if we are going to succeed.

Technology Makes a Poor Substitute for Authentic Leadership

When technology fails, leadership must prevail. Years before the Titanic?s voyage Captain Smith said, ?I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.? Many businesses today have placed the wrong people in charge. They are not leaders, but managers. So when disaster strikes, who is going to step up and lead? Or will your technology cause you to shipwreck and pull you under?

Leadership is About Training and Development

As the stern of the Titanic lifted out of the water, the crew and passengers struggled with the lifeboats. There had been no drills, no rehearsals, and the crew stood unfamiliar with their responsibilities. The boats were improperly loaded and only one went back to try to recover survivors. A good leader helps people improve their skills so they can become more productive.

What Lies Below Is More Destructive than What Is On Top

The greatest dangers lie unseen below the surface. That night in 1912 the water was smooth like glass ? and deceptively dangerous. The iceberg lurked below. Like steel fangs, it tore at the rivets along 300 feet of the Titanic?s hull. Those below, the crew and steerage, felt and saw the damage first. Like a gasping breath, the steam billowed above as chaos reigned below. Then and now, those who know what?s wrong with your ?ship? are those below decks. Those people on the frontline usually have the best ideas and solutions to your problems. Consider asking them for their ideas and suggestions before catastrophe strikes.

Leadership Looks Beyond the Horizon

A good ?Captain? is constantly on the lookout for shifting trends, submerged rocks, storms and icebergs. Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton identified and met a need while other retailers did not. Apple saw the need for the iPod while others were still happy with CD players. The vision of the Sony Walkman existed in Akio Morita?s mind well before it entered the mind of the competition. Get the picture? Be on the lookout, scanning the horizon for the next wave of change instead of waiting for it to hit you in the face.

This article is a version of the original article written by?Gregory P. Smith on his website.?As founder and President of Chart Your Course International Inc.,?Smith helps executives and business owners?accelerate individual and organizational performance?and navigate through increasing rates of change.


Jappreet Sethi

Jappreet Sethi
I am a HR & Business Strategy professional with experience of leading HR & People Consulting practice of multinational professional services firms. I specialize in designing & delivering dynamic learning experiences in service of human development. I have over a decade of experience across various facets of HR and Process Consulting. I am a Six-Sigma Black Belt along with a certification in using Lean for process improvement. I am also a certified user for psychometric instruments like MBTI, FIRO, CPI & Saville Consulting Suite; I am among the few in India who specialize in using Art and Drama for Leadership Development and Personal Counseling. I have been rated twice as one of the Top 100 employee engagement experts in the world by a New York Times bestselling author.

Related posts

You Have Been Given Three Months To Improve, What To Do?

First of all, be glad that you have been given a chance to improve. Most...

200 Plus HR Interview Questions & Answers For Top MNC

Are you attending a job interview and  you are worried on how to give a...

You Believe You Are In The Wrong Role, How To Shift Departments?

There are times when in spite of being into a job for months or even...

You Are Planning To Settle Abroad, Should You Inform Your Manager?

Settling abroad is indeed an opportunity that a lot of people eagerly await. However, while...

Share this post

Most popular

How To Achieve Every Goal You Set

Creating goals is not incredibly difficult; in fact anyone can do it, although unfortunately, not...

Tips On How To Choose The Right Business School

Choosing the right business school is a matter of extensive research. The time you spend...

Asked to Relocate? What To Ask Your Employer

Have you been asked by your employer to relocate? If so, you are in a...

Tips To Build Your Resume

Do you feel that your present job is going nowhere? Do you yearn to spread...

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone or Become Obsolete

Your comfort zone is a dangerous place to be, it is where everything is wonderful, everything is familiar, and things are working well. So why is it dangerous? Because it keeps you inside the box where the world you know is familiar and there are no risks, as everything is tried and tested.