Working with leadership onboard a passenger ship is different from working with leadership in the office ashore. At the office the same manager arrives every day and exercises his leadership in his own special way. Among the officers onboard we have three people who share every post in order to put together the relief systems. They must practise their leadership in a similar way so that the goal is clear to all. Naturally there is some space for individual and adapted leadership, but it is important that the paths towards the goal are in the same direction. It is not always made easier by the fact that there are at least two crewmembers (due to the watch systems) doing the same job, who are both “recipients” of this leadership.
It is not unusual that we as individuals perceive the same leadership differently. There must be frequent communication with colleagues and regular verification for leadership to be clear and uniform for its recipients. Demands from the shipping company management must often be balanced with demands from employees. Those who exercise leadership onboard must be able to live with and justify their leadership 24 hours a day, at the same time as social interaction must also work for the leader.
Easier in good times
It is always easier to exercise leadership in good times. When times get tough there is a risk that leadership changes towards the more heavy-handed lecturing method.
Working with leadership onboard can be a challenge which far from everyone feels comfortable with.
When people train to become marine officers it is not only the nautical or technical aspects that must be practised in the professional role, but also leadership that will take a large proportion of working hours.
I hope that the marine officer colleges will give more priority to leadership training so that our future officers will be as well equipped as possible for their coming roles.
Anette Wugk, Personnel department, TT-Line