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The Boat Parable: Leading by Empowering Others

The Boat Parable: Leading by Empowering Others


Have you ever heard of the boat parable? It's a fantastic story that illustrates a powerful leadership lesson. At Mplus, we embrace this principle and I'm writing this to share how we apply this principle and to encourage other organizations to do the same.

The Boat Parable: 

Imagine a boat with a team of rowers. At the start, the leader sits at the front, guiding and setting the pace for everyone. Over time, as the team learns and gains confidence, the leader moves to the back, allowing the team to take over the leading role. This shift enables the team to grow and become more self-sufficient while the leader supports and steers from behind.

How Mplus Applies This Principle in Our Leadership Style:

  1. Initial Guidance: Our leaders start by clearly guiding and setting expectations. They provide direction and support to ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.

  2. Empowering the Team: As team members become more confident and skilled, leaders gradually step back, encouraging them to take on more responsibilities and make decisions.

  3. Support from Behind: Even as leaders step back, they remain available to offer support and guidance. This ensures the team feels secure and backed up while taking the lead.

  4. Fostering Growth: This approach helps our team members grow professionally, building their confidence and capabilities, which ultimately strengthens the entire organization.

 Key Traits of Successful Companies:

While every company has its own unique ethos, culture, and goals, truly successful companies often share some common traits: Great Leadership, Delegation with Authority, Reciprocal Commitment, and Adherence to the principle of "the 6 Ps."

  1. Great Leadership: A great leader is not just a boss but akin to the captain of a sailing ship. They have a clear purpose and mission, understand the intricacies of their organization, and set a clear definition of success.
  2. Delegation with Authority: Like a good captain, a great leader delegates wisely. They understand the importance of selecting capable individuals, granting them the authority to make necessary decisions, and acting swiftly to make management changes if needed.
  3. Reciprocal Commitment: Leaders at successful companies prioritize the morale and well-being of their teams. They understand that a committed and well-compensated team will go above and beyond to achieve mission goals.
  4. The 6 Ps: Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. 😆 It's true ....Successful leaders ensure their teams have all the provisions, systems, policies, and training needed to perform their work effectively and achieve their goals.

Encouraging Other Organizations:

The boat parable offers valuable lessons for any organization. Here’s how you can implement this approach:

  1. Start with Clear Guidance: Ensure leaders provide clear direction and support at the beginning, helping the team understand their roles and goals.
  2. Gradually Empower the Team: As your team gains confidence, allow them to take on more responsibilities and make decisions.
  3. Provide Ongoing Support: Leaders should remain available to offer guidance and support, even as they step back from the front.
  4. Focus on Development: Encourage continuous learning and growth, helping your team build their skills and confidence.

By following these principles, any company can enhance their performance and increase the likelihood of achieving their goals. At Mplus, the boat parable is more than just a story; it's a core principle that shapes my own leadership and our organizational culture.

I hope you find this analogy insightful. Here’s to smooth sailing for your organization!

Koda Skurzewski
Board Member & Group EVP, Sales and Marketing