"Sea"crets of a Great Leader
Author's Notes: "High Seas Journal" is meant to be a parody of "Wall
High Seas Journal
~ Monthly Magazine for Ship's Moguls ~
"Sea"crets of a Great Leader
- The lessons you must learn
Mark Bobbins talks exclusively with the legendary Captain Sir
Pellew on life, leadership, and secrets of being on top of the high
It is a warm August morning as I ride out to sea on my little
boat towards the Indefatigable - or Indy - as she is affectionately
known among her crew. Even from a hundred yards distance, the outline
of this frigate of war strikes you as a very graceful instrument of
the sea, with none of the visible signs of blood of men who have
perished on her deck. But then again, the sight of this ship does
take your breath away.
A ship such as this deserves a good, strong leader with plenty
heart to take her through the most bloody of sea battles we have seen
this century, and as I board the deck I can see that it has such a
leader in the form of Captain Sir Edward Pellew a legendary captain
decorated by King George and one of the most celebrated Captains of
our time. Pellew cordially invites me to perch on the poopdeck so
that I can observe the mechanics of leading this great ship.
"Having the leadership skills to be a good captain isn't
you're born with" he begins. "You need to have opportunities to work
with the masters and learn as much as you can from them. Keep your
eyes and ears open and draw on from their expertise. It will be an
invaluable lifelong learning experience."
"I think the biggest challenge facing us at the moment
uncertainty of going to war with France. These are exciting times in
our British naval history a chance to show what we are made of. No-
one can withstand the might of the British navy, but we must be brave
enough to fight to prove that."
"An important aspect about being a good leader is focusing
on the big
picture strategic planning in other words and not getting caught
up in the detailed day to day issues. You need to think ahead about
what the enemy is going to do, not whether there was too much salt in
last night's roasted pork."
At this point, Pellew berates one of his crewmen for not washing
deck properly. "You there!" he shouts. "There are flecks of dry
patches on this deck that have not even been touched by that mop.
Attend to it immediately! I said today if you please, Mr Beare!"
"Ay ay Sir!" replies Mr Beare and resumes mopping frantically. Pellew
"Discipline is important, oh yes, very much so. All of
my men are
good men provided they are kept busy. But to motivate them you need
to show you respect them: respect is a key part of motivation. How
would you like to come to work every day feeling demoralised that
your work wasn't good enough?"
The interview is interrupted by a trio of marines who have
a pale seaman to the attention of Pellew. "Sir" one of them say "we
caught this man taking more than his fair share of rum."
"It was for my arthritis" protests the man, "I
can't tie knots in the
Pellew cuts him dead.
"Enough!" he rouses. "Take this man below decks
and clap him in
irons. We will soon call a general assembly and ask them to show
their disgust for this creature!"
The man is taken away. Pellew continues:
"But while respect is important, it is equally vital that
each man fairly and equally according to his own merits. We are a
very egalitarian crew and the men hate seeing others be singled out
for praise. It creates the impression that we have `favourites' in
Pellew pauses to congratulate one of his acting lieutenants.
"Ah Mr Hornblower!" he says loudly. "Are you well sir?"
"Yes sir" replies Hornblower meekly.
"I was most impressed with your handling of the TinkleTop
shouts Pellew. "Well done to you Sir".
A few of the other crew look up and resentfully look down again.
blood rushes to Hornblower's cheeks. He doesn't look comfortable.
"I say" continues Pellew. "Will you stop my
cabin at half past seven
this evening for a drink? I have something to discuss with you by way
of your promotion."
"As you wish Sir. Will that be all sir?"
"Yes, Mr Hornblower. Carry on."
Pellew grins at me as he explains. "He is one of my best
lieutenants and a modest one at that, so I try not to embarrass him
with all the flattery."
The interview is drawing to a close, but Pellew has one more
share. "Self control. Let the crew not get up to mischief with their
idle hands. There is time to work and time to play. I trust them, of
course, to be in full possession of their faculties on the job, but
just to be sure, any form of temptation is strictly kept out of sight
under lock and key."
>From the corner of my eye, I notice a number of men staggering
drunkenly up the stairs, bawdy and carrying on. Wherever they got
their supply of rum from is not known, but suggests Pellew's intent
to keep such temptations `under lock and key' is not foolproof.
Pellew follows my gaze and with a reddening face begins to issue
orders for their arrest. I get the feeling its going to be a long