Sharks in the water doesn’t mean much to those of us on dry land, but if we pay attention they are around us. Sharks wait for us to fall of the boat, make a mistake and then take advantage of our mistakes. Sharks feed on mistakes. Sharks feed on isolation. When we allow sharks to swim in our waters we do not allow our organizational culture to allow for the authenticity and vulnerability that is needed for our organizations to grow. What we do allow is for everyone to fear the sharks in the water. Sharks will always be in the water. What can we do as leaders? Provide a bigger boat! More importantly, how do we do this?
Providing a bigger boat means providing a place of safety, vulnerability and authenticity. As leaders we provide a bigger boat by casting a standard of practice that addresses mistakes, not with punishment, or throwing people overboard, but by coaching and empathy. We provide a bigger boat by ensuring that the boat is steady and seaworthy by giving clear goals and expectations for those working in our organization. We provide bigger boat by being the captain who makes the right decision for our crew and are open about our decisions.
Being the captain of the boat takes tenacity. But let us not forget that being the captain also means being the model example for our crew.