The other day at the next marina, there was a 32-foot cabin cruiser attempting to tie up to the dock. The captain was having a difficult time bringing the boat near the dock – very entertaining for the observers in our marina.
First, the boat was aiming at the dock on an angle instead being parallel to it – and it was coming too fast stop before running into the dock. The captain reversed the props and shoved the throttle to full power, jerking the boat in the opposite direction (toward our marina's dock). The captain then jammed the transmission into forward and again pushed the throttle to the max – the boat came to a sudden stop, then jumped forward quickly gaining speed, so the captain jerked the wheel which took the boat out into the channel.
The two marinas were temporarily safe, but boat traffic in the channel was now in peril. Captain Dangerous spun the wheel, reversed the transmission yet again, and went to full throttle again. Now he was traveling backwards in a U toward boats in the channel that had stopped to give him room to maneuver. He did another spin, shift, full power cycle and was now going 180 degrees from the original direction, heading toward moored boats in the marina.
For the next 20 minutes he continued these maneuvers with no better results, stopped traffic in the channel, and threatened several marinas in the area. Finally got close enough that a dock hand could toss a line to boat and he pulled the boat into the dock (first mate was almost pulled out of the boat before the captain thought to cut the engines).
It takes skill and planning to 'drive' a boat – and plenty of practice to do it well. Moves are deliberate, changing paths are anticipated well in advance and made gradually.
As I was watching Captain D from one of the boats at risk in the channel, I realized how similar captaining a boat is to leading an organization.
A leader should have a vision of the outcome, steadily move toward the goal, make deliberate changes when appropriate, and learn from experience (good or bad) to become a better leader.
Failing to do this may entertain outsiders, while putting the organization and others at risk.