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Leading During Tough Times

Leading During Tough Times

Recently a very large cruise ship ran aground off the Tuscan coast of Italy.  The ship’s captain navigated the vessel too close to shore and a huge span of boulders ripped open the left side of the hull.  An event that seems almost unimaginable with all of today’s sophisticated navigation technology.

Captain Abandons Ship, Passengers and Crew

Although the ship’s captain had the presence of mind to navigate the ship closer to shore, something unbelievable happened moments later. While evacuations were underway, amidst mass confusion, the ship’s captain abandoned ship and took comfort in a rescue vessel.  While he sat inside his rescue craft, safe from harm, passengers were trying desperately to escape while others were dying.

When the ship’s passengers and crew most needed their leader to help them, thinking of himself first, the captain abandoned his position and exited the ship. He failed to lead during a disaster and abandoned thousands of tourists and employees who had entrusted their lives to his hands.

Leading in Tough Times

In the business world, leading an organization during good economic times is likely to be less stressful and more enjoyable. Navigating leaders and employees through disastrous economic conditions, however, is when the best leaders rise to the occasion and assume control and responsibility of the operations.

In Corporate America, our CEO’s are the duly sworn captains of the company.  Their leadership is not tested when economic times are good. The strength of a leader’s character is tested when tragedy occurs and the well-being of the team must be placed above their own. Yet, how many times have we seen companies get into trouble and the first thing the CEO does is make sure his benefits, retirement and financial arrangements are secure before abandoning their ship.

There are some lessons to be learned from a ship captain who abandons the ship before evacuation procedures are completed.

Questions to Consider

CEO’s/Executives/Leaders: How would you react during bad times? Would you consider the needs of others before your own?
Employees: Would your company’s CEO do the right thing in the event of a tragedy?


Kevin Kennemer is founder of The People Group based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kevin is driven by his passion for company owners and their need to earn a profit, employees' desire for a positive and fulfilling work experience, and the community that benefits when both groups do well.


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