Every Ship Needs a Captain, But Every Captain Needs a Crew
Every ship needs a captain, but every captain needs a crew. Lacking one or the other, the ship is likely to veer off course, run aground, crash, or even capsize. This truism of the high seas is a fitting metaphor for the importance of building strong teams in business, and making sure that the leader stays closely aligned with the team. There is a certain glamour and mystique to ocean travel, but it can be a voyage filled with mortal dangers which must be heeded. Without a strong captain to make the tough decisions, a crew can quickly dissolve into dissension, anarchy or even mutiny. At the same time, no single captain can do it all to steer the ship, navigate the course, maintain the equipment, cook the meals and oversee all of the ship’s other essential operations. Seafaring vessels require extensive teamwork to ensure that everything runs smoothly, from the engine room to the top deck, and from the below ship quarters to the captain’s bridge. For instance, whenever a storm hits, sailors must quickly batten down the hatches so the ship does not take on water. The crew looks to the captain for orders so that each sailor knows his or her duties. The captain looks to the crew to swab the decks, scrape off the barnacles, drop the anchors, and keep the whole craft in shipshape condition. An able crew is needed to carry out these critical duties to keep the ship moving safely toward its destination. During the trip, the captain relies on lieutenants and ensigns to navigate and make sure the ship stays on course, especially in the dark of night. Guidance by radar, nautical maps or even old-fashioned starlight requires different types of expertise from certain crew members. Another important duty involves maintaining clear radio communications with other ships and the Coast Guard. There are few worse fates for sailors than being lost at sea with limited rations. In business, this outcome is comparable to being driven into bankruptcy because of poorly aligned teamwork. Classic sailing ships require another important function to harness the power of the wind to generate thrust. Special skills are needed to manage the intricacies of sails and rope lines, which must be carefully knotted to work together properly. Sailors who don’t pay attention to on-deck safety might get tangled up in the ropes, struck by a swinging boom, or even be thrown overboard. Other sailors are responsible for navigating channel buoys and securing the ship to a dock when it finally reaches port. Then the night watch crew is responsible for patrolling the decks to guard against any intruders coming aboard while onshore, including stowaways, enemies or even pirates. Sailing a ship is a truly collaborative endeavor, much like running a business. Remember that every ship needs a captain, but every captain needs a crew. Leaders should set a strong example through their words and actions, and crew members should carefully complete all their assignments so everyone can stay afloat and prosper together.