Follow up to personality test with insight into captains

May 5, 2014 by Guest Writer

The initiative taken by The Triton in undertaking the personality testing of a select group of captains is to be applauded. [“Communication with captains is not only a captain’s concern,” page A5, April issue.]


The purpose for undertaking the testing procedure was to shed some light on how others, including crew and business owners, might want to “pitch” their communications with yacht captains.


The results provided from the study give clearer insights into the broader personalities and behavioral characteristics of yacht captains. The specific program used was the DISC personality assessment, which is a relatively well-known assessment tool. Questions are asked of the participant about how they feel and how they would react in certain circumstances. Patterns of behavior are then assigned to the participant according to the manner in which they have responded.


The test results should not be assumed to be anything more than what they are, a tool that can be applied to get better insights into personality characteristics.


Our understanding is that the testing activity was probably a first in the industry designed to seek a better understanding of the broader personality styles — and by association, the communication patterns — exhibited by yacht captains.


The outcomes of the tests were not surprising nor unexpected by many, given the nature of the jobs that yacht captains are both asked and expected to do.


It is not that they were unexpected, but the fact that the findings, even with such a small sample, confirmed the views that yacht captains are task-oriented, having the natural styles of D (dominant and direct) and C (cautious and consistent).


The Triton article goes on to outline in some detail the features of captains’ personalities and notes a word of caution in interpreting and making assumptions based on the findings.


This collective study, although not extensive nor probably completely academically rigorous, is remarkable from a wider yachting industry point of view, in that it breaks new ground with respect to introducing testing tools widely used in the corporate world and not normally undertaken in the yachting industry.


Although we should not draw any extensive conclusions about broader behavioral tendencies of yacht captains from this study, it serves to probe into the collective personality characteristics of captains and sets forth a challenge for further follow-up research.


The findings potentially have significant relevance for the ongoing topic of leadership competencies of yacht captains. The predisposition of yacht captains toward task orientation and resultant opposite disposition toward people orientation may provide some wider interpretations as to the “leadership gap” discussion previously written about by myself, following on from a previous Triton survey.


My contention is that if we can better understand (through rigorous research analysis) what the predominant behavioral features are for yacht captains, we may well then better understand what leadership attributes and learnings should be considered in any continuous professional development framework for yacht captains. By undertaking a process of research and investigation we can be better informed about the emergent professional development needs of yacht captains.


The Yacht Captains Association ( advocates the strengthening in professionalism of all yacht captains. The YCA endorses activity that improves the standing of yacht captains within the yachting industry. The YCA plans to enhance and facilitate career and professional development opportunities for yacht captains.


Researching the views and opinions of yacht captains about their place within the industry and matters affecting captains both directly and indirectly is a fundamental tenet of the Yacht Captains Association. The YCA envisages undertaking future research initiatives by partnering with industry and external bodies so as to better understand the various dimensions of the industry.


Capt. Ian Bone is involved with a group of yacht captains launching the Yacht Captains Association. Read more on his blog at Comments are welcome at




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