10 Powerful Lessons from the Disaster that was the Costica Concordia

I am not an expert on the disaster that was the Costica Concordia, but I was reflecting on the shipwreck today and I was thinking about the leadership lessons that can be taken from the disaster.

 1. If you leave someone in charge as your delegated  representative, make sure they are capable.

From what I understand, the captain was at dinner and his delegated leadership  were left in charge of the ship. Whether they were incompetent  or not has not been proved, but the reality of the situation for an organizational leader is, the person you leave in charge when you are not at the helm, has to be capable of steering the ship and keeping it in safe waters.

2. Don’t lead from an ego perspective

 Apparently the ship diverted from its normal path because one of the crew were from the island they were close to. The inference has been in the media that the captain was showing off. When it comes to leadership, there is no room for ego.  Ego driven leaders are dangerous leaders who use their organization to stroke their egotistical needs. The biblical mandate for leadership is servant leadership where a leader lays down his life for the people that follow him.

3. There are charts that show you how to steer your organization through safe passage, avoiding the reefs and rocks of life – for Christian organizations, this chart is called the Word of God. Ignore it to your organization’s peril.

The Captain of the Costica Concordia initially protested strongly saying that they had hit a reef that was not on the charts. He soon stopped saying that when it was shown that the reef the ship had hit was very much on the charts.

The Bible is the navigational chart for any Christian Organization or Christian Leader. It’s an amazing leadership document and we ignore it at out own peril.

4. When a rock rips the bottom out of the organization you are leading, don’t be so arrogant that you wont call for outside help.

The Costica Concordia was sinking and it was more than 40 minutes after the initial rock contact before the Coast Guard was officially informed of the situation by the Ship. In fact passengers had called the Coast Guard and they had called the ship and the ship had told them the only issue was that there was a black out.

It seems that the staff simply refused to admit that there was a problem with the ship, even though the ship was taking on water and they knew they were in trouble.

Why would they do this? Because they had the same issues that plagued the crew of the Titanic – arrogance. They refused to acknowledge that there was a problem. Their arrogance blinded them to the reality of the situation.

Leadership is powerful when it is infused with godly humility. Arrogant leaders care little for anyone but themselves.

5. When people you lead are hurting, hurt with them and don’t look out for yourself only.

There was immediate uproar when people realized that the captain was one of the first off the ship and no one believed him when he said that he fell into a lifeboat. The leadership lesson here is that when the organization is in trouble and people are hurting, the leader must show empathy and weep with those who are weeping. Romans 12:15 says that we are to weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh. In other words, as leaders, we must be feeling what those around us are feeling, particularly in times of great crisis.

I remember a mining disaster that happened internationally a few years ago – in the US I think. Some miners were trapped underground and the miners families had gathered at the mine. The CEO of the mine did a press conference and just talked about how this was a bad day for the company. His whole press conference was related to how bad this was for the company. He said very little about the miners and the families. There was uproar. Imagine the different reaction if he had of come out and as he stood at the podium, broke down and shed a tear as he spoke of his distress at the thought that the miners were trapped underground.

6. When an organization is in trouble, people will look to you for leadership- In those times, show leadership

In the crisis of the Costica Concordia, people looked for leadership. There emerged stories of waiters or tour guides, being heros as they showed leadership beyond the call of their position. Leadership will rise in the absence of leadership. So the lesson here is, when there is a crisis and you are in leadership – show leadership. Don’t abdicate it to others

7. Don’t put off making hard decisions

Apparently there was a significant delay between when the ship hit the rock and the time when the order was issued to get people into life boats. When there is a crisis and hard decisions need to be made – Make the call. Courage in leadership in is an important characteristic. Courage in leadership during a crisis is absolutely essential, as people’s lives may be depending on it

8. People in your organization are not idiots and they can sense when things are not right.

Apparently passengers on the ship rang the Coast Guard telling them that the ship was in trouble. People knew. People sensed it. They could read the signs. As leadership you need to understand that the people who follow you are not idiots and they can read the signs of the organization and they can tell when things are not right. Don’t ignore the signs and don’t bury your head in the sand and pretend everything is ok. When things aren’t going right, call it and show leadership in moving the organization into safer waters.

9) Leadership means taking responsibility

The captain of the ship has been arrested and charged. Why? Because he is the one that is going to be held responsible. Leadership is about being held responsible.  Understanding that is an important part of understanding the role of leadership.

10) Leadership must be prepared for when things go wrong.

Every Organisation is going to sail into rough waters from time to time. The leadership lesson is that we need to have procedures and protocols in place for when things go wrong to minimize the damage

In conclusion – I read this great quote in relation to the Costica Concordia and leadership

The bigger the thing you find yourself in charge of, the greater

the potential a small deviation has for disaster

Categories: Wisdom for life

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