“I’m not your Dad, friend, pal, buddy or peer, I’m the Boss. I don’t give a damn whether you like me or not, but you will respect my rules and carry out my orders. There isn’t anything I’d ask you to do that I haven’t done myself. I’ll tell you the truth. I’ll never say anything behind your back that I wouldn’t say to your face. You’re here to work. I’m here to make sure the work gets done by the book and on time and to make sure we all get home safely and in one piece.” Capt Bill Brucato
A man I worked with long ago taught me a valuable lesson in leadership, he believed that a boss should set the example and demonstrate with his actions and behavior what “doing it right ” means. He didn’t worry about being a “good guy”, he worried about being a good captain. Whether that would have endeared him to his crew was not his primary concern. He knew that maintaining a high standard started with him. He was cordial and a gentleman, but he made it clear with his words and actions what he expected.
The times when a criticism or correction was required, he would take the crew member in question aside and “have the talk” privately, he wouldn’t embarrass the man publicly if it could be helped. The man didn’t have to “lose face” in front of his crew mates and the lesson could be imparted without the drama. If the talk failed to solve the problem, there was precious little room to argue with the decision for that man to move along.
It’s human nature to want to be liked, but being liked and being respected are two very different things when it comes to being the boss. I suspect it’s easier on a ship to maintain a professional detachment from the crew, but on a tug and barge unit there isn’t any insulation from the crew for the captain to really be above the fray. We only have seven crew members at best.
I’ve seen some hard-asses and some that try to be pals, but in the end both fail to garner the kind of co-operation needed for a really safe work environment. We all know having an asshole aboard makes for a long hitch and I don’t think it serves the team to have a screamer in charge. I think it reflects a lack of professionalism. If the Boss is calm and collected, the professional demeanor of the crew is set from the top down. The example is evident in everyone aboard.
If the boss is of the “do what I say, not what I do” school, he’ll surely fail to maintain order and organization on board. I think it defeats innovation and morale. Being “squared away” is more than boat-handling and general seamanship skills.
I only ask that the crew do their jobs to the best of their ability. If they need help or guidance then I will give what I’ve got. I’m not above getting down on deck to teach a new guy how to handle a line or set up the deck gear. I’ll be happy to explain what I’m doing and why after the work is done.
I don’t take part in practical jokes. I don’t want to know about the details of your love life. I’m concerned with your approach to the work and getting it done safely and on time. I’d appreciate a professional attitude.