Lessons From A Big Leadership Mistake

If you have been following this Italian cruise ship disaster, it was reported that the ship wreck was caused by poor leadership judgment. Eleven people are dead and 21 are still missing in the Costa Concordia cruise ship accident off the Italian coast. When leaders make mistakes, assessing the full nature of the problem is critical to executing a proper response.

Results of Leadership Mistake

Look how this captain handled this huge mistake:

Mistake #1 – The crew made repeated announcements saying, “There’s no problem. Nothing is wrong. We just have an electrical problem with the generator.” http://www.kcra.com/r/30265121/detail.html

Mistake #2 – Captain abandoned his post: “I was trying to get people to get into the boats in an orderly fashion. Suddenly, since the ship was at a 60 to 70 degree angle, I tripped and I ended up in one of the boats. That’s how I found myself there.”

Leadership lessons from this disaster:
1. Honesty played a critical role in getting timely help.
2. A leader can’t escape his responsibility to lead – even if he doesn’t want it.
3. Leadership failure is usually the result of poor discipline and/or bad procedures.
What else would you add to the list from this story?

7 thoughts on “Lessons From A Big Leadership Mistake

  1. Obviously, the Costa Concordia disaster demonstrates that its skipper’s instinct of self-preservation was greater than his sense of duty. Many are wondering: Whatever happened to gallantry, honor and self-respect? Is it genetic? A disaster like this is THE acid test of a man’s mettle.

  2. I grew up watching captains going down with their ships. This melts that illusion. Leaders are expected to fulfill their duty in this situation. Failure to act is what Coach Joe Paterno suffer during public outcry too.

  3. After spending time in the Air Force, I learned very quickly how critical following the chain of command can be. IMHO, it seems as if the Captail of this ship was not only negligent to the welfare of the passengers, but also his reputation. The Captain is the “boss” of this ship. He should have overseen all actions until the last critical moment, just as a CEO of a large corporation should do before going completely under. It seems as if he had a better idea of how his chain of command worked on the ship, he would have been the last, absolute last person to “abandon ship”. Now, all this captain will be seen as is the man only looked out for himself.

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