Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Don't Covet the Title Unless You are Willing to Live Up to It

It is nice to have a big title on the name card. It is wonderful to have a prestigious name tag on the shoulder that says: "Captain." All these are pleasantries. All these are nice to boast about. When a crisis comes in, all of these mean nothing if initiative, courage, and integrity flows out. This is what happened when the Italian luxury cruise ship liner went aground off the coast of Tuscany on the evening of January 14th, 2012. The huge ship fell on its side, together with more than 4200 passengers, crew members, and others. For many a pleasant holiday turns out to be a nasty disaster.

As of January 17th, 2012, at least 11 people have died. Fourteen are still missing, and the more than 4200 people on board traumatized by the whole event. With more than half a million gallons of fuel on board, the ship is a potential ecological disaster. While the size of the ship and the immense rescue efforts are being put in place, something else makes the whole disaster even more despicable.

The captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino bailed when he is most needed. He is the captain, the leader, the one responsible for the whole ship. Instead of taking the initiative to take over the rescue procedures, and to give clear instructions for his crew, he tries to save his own skin by jumping onto a lifeboat to flee. Instead of courage to give directions from within the ship, he needed a scolding from a Coast Guard officer to command him to get back on board. Instead of integrity to own up to his responsibilities, Schettino gives out ridiculous excuses. The video below shows how small-hearted, fearful, and irresponsible for one who is supposed to be a captain of the ship. Shame indeed.

For any of us intending to be leaders, remember that it is not the title that give credence to one's leadership. It is the ability to take initiative during times of need. It is the courage to be responsible and to lead. It is the integrity to face up to the truth, and to put the interests of others above self. Otherwise, do not lead. Titles are nothing when one is not prepared to live up to the responsibility of the title.



Anonymous said...

Just remembered during the last financial crisis where there are a lot of people in the financial sectors who holds titles like Presidents and Executive Directors. Most of them would not hesistate to retrenched staffs to save their own skin or push blames to one another for lossess incurred by the institutions or the clients.

Conrade Yap said...

@Anonymous (6:24pm),

Yes, those examples of the leaders who sacrifice others to save their own skin are deplorable. I suppose the old adage holds true. You know who your true friends are when crisis occurs.

Thanks for commenting.


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