All Hands On Deck!

Current events have created an interesting window from which to view the subject of leadership.  At BEI we always are interested in leadership that builds a sense of engagement among those who we consider followers.  The examples spotlighted today are not from employed work systems.  Rather they come from current events, which tell us a great deal.

I remember as a child being fascinated by stories of the sinking of the Italian cruise liner Andrea Doria, after a collision at sea with the MS Stockholm off the coast of Nantucket.  That fascination re-emerged with the grounding of the Costa Concordia off Giglio, Italy.  I’m intrigued by this story.  Why you might ask? Ship captains have always held a place of high regard in my psyche.  I didn’t put them there consciously but somewhere in my upbringing and education a fascination with the sea, captains and voyages developed.  More than a romantic notion, the fact the captain is always the last to leave the ship inspires a sense gallantry, admiration and respect for their leadership.  The Concordia’s captain Francesco Schettino, abandoned his ship before all the passengers were accounted for, this is hard to understand.

Audiotapes of his conversation with Captain De Falco of the Italian Coast Guard, outraged by Captain Schettino’s actions, ordered him to return to the ship.  De Falco has become a national hero in Italy.  Uncomfortable with this image he says he was just doing his job. One news report stated Italian citizens don’t want the world to see them as “Captain Schettino’s”.

For the last 17 years the people of Italy have been living under the ether of scandals – sex, greed and corruption.  The exploits of their former Prime Minister, media mogul Silvio Berlusconi are well documented.  Yet he was re-elected repeatedly.  Has it taken this fatal disaster, viewed around the world to let the people of Italy “wake-up”?

I’ve no answers here.  Only questions.  Is there is a phenomena of leadership that permeates cultures wherein people become resigned and allow themselves to be led by individuals they don’t respect, or don’t like?  Do cultures need tragedies to wake-up?  What is it that lulls each of us into a state of resignation and non-action?  How does this macro leadership phenomenon influence leadership in work systems?

This may be a bit much for a morning blog, but I am thinking of all the work we have to do here in the US and around the world to save our planet and reignite our humanity.  Each of us needs to revisit our values and beliefs about power.  Are we living according to our values and beliefs?  If not, why?  Personally, I don’t think there are any valid excuses for not doing so.  The stakes are too high.