Leadership: Set an example

This is my inaugural blog for WorkBoat.com. As you can surmise from the blog title, it is all about safety. As a marine safety specialist, I hope to provide you and your company with safety tips and insight.

I am also a licensed master mariner. Like many of you, I have worked for a diverse collection of masters as I progressed up the ranks. Some have been legendary, for being a good or bad master.

Mariners that are confined on any vessel at sea wants a captain that knows if you are dead or alive and that what you do makes a difference. It sounds so simple as to be taken for granted. Each of us has worked for an indifferent slug that appeared to not give a damn about us. If you have not had such an experience, then consider yourself lucky.

We liked to see a captain that went out on deck, maybe pitched in, or just wanted to see how we were doing. He would ask what was going on and listened to what you might have to say. You learned to trust each other. When you’re the captain you hear the damnedest things by just walking around.

Mr. Brownne was the janitor in corporate headquarters at a tug company I worked at. He walked around every day emptying everyone’s wastebasket. He knew what you were working on and all about your family. That was in contrast to the CEO on the upper floor who probably had little idea who I was or what I did. Mr. Brownne was a leader by walking around. The CEO missed an opportunity.

When I was commanding officer of a Navy ship, I learned that nobody was going to die for you if they didn’t know you. In towboats some masters and mates spend their entire hitch between the wheelhouse, stateroom, head, and the galley refrigerator. The rest of the boat is foreign territory. They have no idea about engineering or if the boat is clean or dirty. The only time you see these guys is when they stick their head out of the wheelhouse and curse at you. Leadership really counts during the last minutes of a crisis.

Get your heads out of the refrigerator and walk around. You’ll know your crew and boat better, and your body fat will be reduced for your next license renewal.

That’s the difference between a good captain and a slug.

Sail safe!

About the author

Capt. Peter Squicciarini

Capt. Peter Squicciarini is a licensed master mariner and marine safety specialist at the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command in Portsmouth, Va. He has worked on towing, passenger, and fishing vessels, and was a safety and compliance manager for an East Coast tug and barge company. He also served in the Navy as a surface ship officer and commanded several warships. He can be reached at pdsquicciarini@msn.com.

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