Leadership lessons from an aircraft carrier

An aircraft carrier is certainly a different leadership challenge than most of us are faced with.  Yet as I read this article by Guy Kawasaki I was struck by the number of links between that and church leadership.

As a principle I believe it is always helpful to consider leadership situations that are very different from our own.  Of course, we cannot simply transfer all that we see unquestioningly, but it can often be a prompt to wrestle with something we had been missing.

Here is my summary of the original article:

  • Inspiration
    • Having a big meaningful goal is a tremendous force for inspiration, motivation and cohesion. This also brings a sense of achievement and pride in success
  • Perspiration
    • If everyone buys into the goal, you can get an amazing amount of work done
  • Teamwork
    • Ethic about team performance
  • Recruiting and training
    • Not about fancy degrees and prior polish; it’s about commitment to excellence
  • Accountability and continuous improvement
    • Everything is monitored and measured- every system has to perform at 100% and there is a person responsible to make it happen
  • Respect
    • It is not an option on an aircraft carrier
  • Overcoming fear
    • You do it because it’s your responsibility and that’s the only way the mission gets accomplished
  • Work/life balance
    • Very tricky in this situation. They seemed to be able to find ways of relaxing in the break in action and being human.
  • Reverence and irreverence
    • Recognition of importance of task and possibility of the loss of life, yet also relaxed nature and nick names that make sure no-one takes themselves too seriously
  • 100% performance
    • People giving nothing less than their best
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