It is known that the term “leadership” includes a variety of skills. Although there are cases of let’s say ‘born leaders’, leadership is something that can be taught and developed. During the CAREER4SEA Talk on leadership at sea, speakers focused on how the crewmembers can use their leadership skills at many levels in an effort to take initiatives, be motivated to face the onboard challenges and perform at their best.
Capt. VS Parani, HSSEQ Manager Tufton Asset Management Ltd shared their perspectives on the ‘must-have’ skills for leaders within the shipping industry.amely, Gerardo A. Borromeo, Chief Executive Officer PTC Holdings Corporation along with Capt. Mark Bull, Director Trafalgar Navigation Limited and
As Gerardo A. Borromeo stated, leadership is a very complex concept, as it is the ability to give directions. “However, this ability must start with the individual. Does this individual command a certain presence in order to be able to get people to listen and understand? Is that person also able to listen, be situationally aware and think in terms that are not normal? “… Mr. Borromeo expressed.
Following the discussion, Mr. Borromeo marked that the issue of leadership is best tested under difficult circumstances.
It’s easy to say let’s go left or let’s go right. However, in order to get people do go left or right under pressure and complex situations, you need the best of an individual who can not only command presence, but also share its confidence and persona that has built over the time.
According to Capt. VS Parani, people can instinctively recognize a good leader when they see one. Mr. Parani noted that leadership is an intentional higher standard of conduct, which also influences a higher standard of conduct in others around us, towards a positive outcome. As explained, a positive outcome in the maritime context is running a ship safely and efficiently.
The way we practice leadership, we can call it art, science, or mindset. For sure, leadership can be learned and improved through practice. So, if we go with this definition, I would say that every maritime professional and seafarer is a leader onboard.
Sharing his take on this issue, Capt. Mark Bull defined leadership as the ability to motivate the crew to achieve the common goal of getting the ship to arrive safely at each and every port and deliver the cargo in good condition. Of course, there are many factors to take into account, not least of which is that the sea is a hostile environment and that puts a lot more pressure on the leaders.
Following the question of Mr. Apostolos Belokas on what sort of skills are required from a great leader, Mr. Borromeo answered that knowing your capability, having the level of confidence to exude a certain presence, situational awareness and communication skills are among others of critical importance.
“If you can inspire and if you can get people’s attention at the worst of times, you can at least provide guidance. A good leader must have the ability to get a sense or a feel for the situation around him, because he can’t act by himself. The whole concept is being able to move people to action”.
Speaking of the skills required for leadership, Capt. VS Parani picked the following top five:
- Lead by example
- Communication skills
- Growth mindset
- Being decisive
At the end of the day, all the leadership skills ultimately boil down to the decisions that we make.
In this context, Capt. Mark Bull added that being a good leader means to know when to say no and that is very difficult, because as soon as you do that, you are criticized from all sides.
At the same time, Mr. Borromeo mentioned that there is still room for improvement around leadership development within the maritime industry. “As an industry, the first thing that we need to do is to ensure that leaders’ body of knowledge is as deep as possible, in order to be both functionally and technically literate to make a decision”.
With shipping being such a safety critical industry, it’s important to focus on seafarers’ formal education and early learning, so that we make the crew aware of the areas or the skills that are required, Capt. VS Parani expressed.
Concluding, Capt. Mark Bull brought to the table the issue of automation as the industry moves forward, highlighting that within the couple of years there would be more forward planning and thinking around leadership onboard.
Explore the CAREER4SEA Talk herebelow: