A ship on the ocean as a nautical comparison for leadership.


Several years back every time I heard the word leadership, I heard lead-your-ship. (Say it fast and they kind of sound alike.) Think of your ship as what you have been given to lead. It could be anything from your small children to a company.

Recently, I am hearing boat analogies at every turn. I am seeing them everywhere, from sailboats to warships to yachts. Two nights ago, I woke up on the tail end of a dream hearing, “Only the captain can turn the ship.” And again, I knew it was a leadership thing. When we know what our ship is, we have the authority to turn it the way it should go. That authority is ours, and while we sometimes need to delegate responsibilities, it is our responsibility to be sure it is to someone we fully trust.

Interesting that I have no real boating experience, yet I keep seeing these nautical comparisons with leadership. The fun I have had on boats is the extent of my boating knowledge. It is not lost on me that others had responsibility while I was having fun, though. Others led my experiences, and it was up to them to turn the vessel the direction it needed to go.

It is much the same with leadership. The people on our boats may or may not realize all we do to keep the vessel upright and going the direction needed. Nevertheless, we are the ones that turn it. Whether by default, neglect, or intent, the direction of the ship is on the captain. Hopefully by intent.

How do you lead your ship?
Do you lead alone or with a team?
How are you intentional to lead it well?
What is one thing that could change to help you turn the ship with greater ease or effectiveness?

It is an incredible responsibility and privilege to lead our ships well. I would love to hear some of your successes!

Brenda Harkins is an Author, Speaker, Mediator, and Coach specializing in Personal, Relational and Leadership Transformation. Brenda founded Harkins Leadership Group and developed the Loud Is Not A Language® communication model, helping to build collaborative communities on foundations of trust both professionally and personally. Brenda’s passion for mining gold in people is shared with her love for God, family, good friends, good coffee, and west Texas sunsets. You can reach Brenda through BrendaHarkins.com or directly via email at brenda@brendaharkins.com.