8 Elements Every Leader Needs to Optimize Team Efficiency

Leadership Lessons from a Ship's Captain

8 Elements Every Leader Needs

This is a guest post by “Captain D.”  At eighteen, when most young lads were fighting angry professors in college, Captain D was fighting the waves of the roaring North Atlantic. Learn more about his eventful life journey at his blog The Soul Creator, which details specific workable strategies to be a winner in life.

The deadline is looming. You have a big project to get done.

The team needs to work together.  There is a crucial job to complete and everyone is stressed.

However, you know “the buck stops here.” Sound familiar?

CEO, Manager, or Captain…We All Lead

My “office” is the bridge of a ship. Entering Boston Harbor, one of the most congested places in the world, I see a symphony of actions.

Congestion in the harbor is extreme and the Port control often has no clue on how to manage the traffic. Small boats are whizzing past while ships are overtaking and crossing at close quarters. The Bridge-team, consisting of a few people, is driving a mammoth vessel through busy traffic. Things at the steering stand are getting tense, and several quick decisions are being taken.

I am in charge. Just like you.

What are the essential elements every leader needs, whether on the sea or in the office?

Leadership Essentials…On Land or On Sea

Here are the 8 Elements Every Leader Needs to Optimize Team Efficiency:

  1. Assemble the right team.  It is the job of the Captain to assemble to correct team for the job. Do not go by qualifications, it is the job of a good leader to also look at performance and mindset. You must know your people. Assess them before starting off. A person with the right attitude is far better than another more qualified but not a team fit.
  2. Address the power distance. When things are in action, everyone will be functioning at a highly alert state of mind. It will be important that your people communicate effectively. Communicating with each other is crucial, but they must also be able to communicate with you. Delegating from afar, but never working with your team may cause high power distance syndrome. You’re not just the leader, but a part of the team.
  3. Delegate clearly. Delegation should be definitive. Each one must be separated by a different job, however small, and upon completion of that job must be utilized in another defined place. This must be clear to everyone who does what, because it may not be possible for you to clarify that every time.
  4. Reduce fatigue. Ensure your people are well rested before they turn up for a job where extreme cooperation is required. The deadline may be tight, but exhaustion causes errors, and short tempers. Take a break to gain perspective, recharge, and refocus on the critical tasks at hand.
  5. Push if required, but not too much. You will find at times someone will suddenly retire into his own world, zone out, or maybe check his phone during critical times. In our profession, one minute of being unmindful can cost millions of dollars. Shake him out of his day-dream with a quick, brisk remark. Do not shout or lose control. If you lose control, this will back fire; the whole team will get tensed.
  6. Maintain a bird’s eye view.  No matter what happens, avoid doing small jobs. As the captain of the team, maintain a bird’s eye view always. You should be able to predict, more than anyone the next few moments and actions required. You cannot lose that control.
  7. Expect changes and adapt yourself. Things change. On the bridge of that ship, while you are proceeding at full speed you may have another ship coming out of the anchorage, heading for you. Meanwhile a boat may approach you and you may need to slow down. Keep probable changes under consideration; look out for such changes. Adapt accordingly.
  8. Always Stay Cool.  This is of course the most important part. Haste should only be in your actions, not in your emotions. Only a cool brain can take quick decisions.

You are in Charge

At the end of the project, the failure or success is attributed to you. Often we pay dearly for any errors.

You are in charge. Prepare accordingly.

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