Leadership: No “Just-in-Case Personnel”

I was impressed today with a television clip I saw of Captain Richard Phillips thanking the crew of the USS Bainbridge for his rescue from the Somali pirates in April.

Two things he said have application to our work environment today.

First, he said that the first time he came aboard the USS Bainbridge, he noticed that the crew was tired, haggard, bags under the eyes but he could see that it was a crew “… working united and together as a team to save myself for no other reason than it was your duty, your job, your all. It was very impressive to me to work among such a dedicated, professional, motivated crew and see how they operated under the command of Commander Castellano.”

What a strong compliment for a leader. His people worked hard to get the job done. They did not just arbitrarily stop because they had worked an entire shift.

Second, Phillips made a comment that applies to our lean work environment. He said, “We sailors know there is no one aboard a ship who is extra. There is no one aboard a ship who is not really needed. There are no ‘just-in-case’ personnel. Everyone has a role, has a duty, has a job. If we don’t fulfill those jobs as sailors, then someone else has to pick up our slack.”

That hit home! Most organizations have had to lay people off, leaving skeleton crews to do the work. There are no ‘just-in-case’ people to back employees up. A good leader that demonstrates effective leadership helps each employee realize their value and encourages them to pull their load so a coworker does not have to pick up the slack for them.

Good lessons for today’s stressful work environment.

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