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Leadership lessons from a storm at sea

Leadership lessons from a storm at sea

It was winters of 1998

My ship was crossing North Atlantic Ocean, on a voyage from Europe to Canada

Winters in North Atlantic are really rough

Ships encounter major storms during that season as they cross the ocean

The ocean is merciless, to say the least….

We got caught in one of the worst storms of the year

For close to 3 days, we battled the fury of nature

Wind forces close to 100 kms per hour

Huge sea waves as high as 10 meters

The ship was rolling almost 30 degrees sideways from the vertical

And being tossed up and down on the waves like a toy

I had read a lot about storms, but this was my first encounter with a major one

That passage of storm offered me a very important leadership lesson

“Calmness in chaos”

Let me explain

Every storm has 2 main parts:

The Eye ( the center of the storm )

This is the calm region of the storm - slow winds, calm waves, clear skies


The Eyewall ( the outer area of a storm )

This is the really intense part of the storm - high winds, thunderstorms, strong waves

This region causes most damage to ships

So when you encounter a storm, you first pass through the Eyewall

The intense phase

Then you pass through the Eye

The calm phase

And when you exit the storm, you pass through the Eyewall again

You see.. 

“Calmness in chaos”

As a leader, it is important to find calmness in chaos

If you are calm in the face of a crisis, during volatile and uncertain times… 

You can remain focused

Your teams remain calm, as they see you in control

You can plan better

And make better decisions

Ofcourse, it is easier said than done

But it all boils down to how decide to show up as a leader in uncertain times

Worth a discussion ?


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