The Triton’s latest article concerning leadership in the yachting industry [Triton survey: “Level of leadership depends on viewpoint,” page C1, January 2014] has revealed some interesting and concerning views and opinions from both yacht captains and crew.
The survey of about 150 captains and crew, although not comprehensive in nature, does provide valuable insights and sends a signal to the yachting industry and yacht captains in particular, that leadership skills and competencies are key attributes that captains must acquire and continue to develop across their maritime career.
In essence, leadership matters.
Developing a framework for continuous professional development is a goal that the Yacht Captains Association (proposed) is fully focused on and has adopted as a core element in its mission.
A summary of the key items of relevance from my analysis is as follows:
1. Captains’ views of their leadership capabilities is generally above average however crew generally regard captains leadership skills as “below average”.
2. Crew often separate the role of “captain” from that of “leader”. A captain’s yacht operating skills did not necessarily mean he/she has good leadership skills.
3. Communication skills (or lack thereof) were seen as a prime indicator by crew of poor leadership.
4. Significant numbers of captains (about 70 percent) and crew (about 90 percent) said that leadership skills should be taught to those studying a mariners license.
5. Captains generally support the proposal of structured leadership study programs.
6. Captains’ and crews’ opinions about on-board training vary significantly.
7. Performance reviews of crew are rarely carried out by captains.
8. A majority of crew (75 percent) claim that regular crew meetings are not held.
Continuous professional development is not an unusual aspect of a professional’s career development. Many professional organizations have established training and development standards that outline best practice models and training content.
An industry with which yachting can draw some parallels is the airline industry, particularly the common features in the roles and responsibilities of yacht captains and airline pilots. It is interesting to read sections of the IFALPA Pilot Training Standards, particularly Chapter 3, which outlines training content and pathways for both technical and non-technical skill sets.
The Yacht Captains Association (proposed) will activate research and initiate strategies and facilitate career development opportunities for yacht captains.
Yacht captains (through the YCA) will take charge of their career development needs, ultimately to make them better leaders. Captains with improved leadership skills can only strengthen the wider industry and encourage more people to consider yacht ownership.
The YCA (proposed) seeks to engage with yachting industry partners to investigate a globally recognized system of non-technical leadership training and development for yacht captains.
The YCA (proposed) would like to invite the participation of industry accreditation bodies, flag states, yacht insurance organizations, training organizations and other interested bodies or individuals to join with us to move forward with this initiative.
Capt. Ian Bone