Guide from UK MCA

UK MCA has issued a guide to help leaders and senior officers in the maritime industry improve their leadership and people management skills in order to ensure safe operations.The guide contains tips and best practices for ten core leadership qualities for effective safety leadership, split into five categories.

Today's article is about confidence and Authority.

The ability to instill respect from, and command authority over, the crew is
probably the first thing that comes to mind when people think of leadership.
In many ways it happens on its own when you get everything else right.
Leaders get respect and command authority when crews believe that you:

  • Are willing to exercise the power vested in your position
  • Possess the necessary knowledge and competence
  • Understand their situation and care about their welfare
  • Are able to communicate clearly
  • Are prepared to act confidently and decisively.

Why is it important?

Without authority and respect it is difficult for leaders to influence the
behaviour of their crews, including safety-related behaviour. Crews may
establish their own individual or group values, attitudes and behaviours, or
else follow other de-facto leaders lower down in the hierarchy. This can
lead to poor compliance with standards and excessive risk-taking. Research
shows that some Masters feel that their authority is being undermined by
increasing governance from shore-based managers under ISM (e.g. through
the Designated Person Ashore requirements). Also, some Masters feel that
the increase in the volume of management standards and procedures is
undermining their authority. These areas are important to address.

What can I do?

Leaders need to tailor leadership style to fit their individual personalities, but there are some common features:

Things that tend to work

  • Have confidence in your decisions and stick to them
  • Admit mistakes when you are sure you are wrong
  • Demonstrate staff care and respect through everyday actions
  • Earn respect through your actions
  • Try to achieve better mutual ship-shore management understanding
    (e.g. through meetings, informal contacts or job rotation).

Things that tend not to work

  • Demanding respect from subordinates
  • Using the power vested in your position as a threat
  • Refusing to listen when challenged
  • Acting unnecessarily tough when there is no justification
  • Ignoring shore-based management
  • Blaming shore-based management for the consequences of decisions
  • Shore-managers being too prescriptive with Masters.

Above article is an extract from UK MCA's Leading for Safety Guide