A multitude of leadership training courses, seminars, and programs

There a lot of grist for the mill in Michael Carr’s gCaptain post, politics aside.

The post focus mostly on the difference between civilian and military. The common thread is both have a basis in human behavior.

Yes, overused.

“attaching leadership caché to everyday behaviours”

My inner grammar nazi bristles at the author’s misuse of the word caché. If he was a true wordsmith, exhibiting leadership in his craft as opposed to being a mere word manager, he would have known to correctly use the word cachet, meaning the state of being respected or admired, instead of caché which means hidden. The latter is related to the word cache (a collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place: “an arms cache”.)
A bit ironic since he is lecturing us on the importance of clear and precise language to say what we mean and to take responsibility for the words we use.
Jus’ sayin’…


except cache (hiding place, or pocket in old french, as in Cache le Poudre) has an ‘e’ without the accent mark and only one syllable. Caché is the past tense of cacher, to hide, so it means ‘hidden.’


I thought Carr’s post was a good one. With regards to the overuse of the term leadership this is the point in this part.

These scenarios contained opening sentences such as “Bill, Mary and Fred are assigned a project, but Fred is new to the office and unfamiliar with the project parameters. How would you lead the team?”

I do find this sort of thing irritating. Better to call it marine personnel management or similar.


The examples given in the post are: Captain Charles McVay, Captain Crozier and LTC Colonel Vindman. Regardless of who was right or wrong in these cases at the root is the same issue.

Col John Boyd would have pointed out there is a mismatch between the goals of the individuals involved and the goals of the organization. In the case of the Navy it would be the careerists in high ranks vs the ship’s crew.

I get what’s being said in the article but in actual practice there no need to invoke leadership. Nobody is going to confuse most commercial ship captains with a General Patton or an Abraham Lincoln.

What can be done is to talk the talk, communicate what the goal is (the safe and economical operation of the ship) and walk the walk, show by action that is in fact the actual goal.

I have read and re-read Michael Carr’s gCaptain’s post several times. In his real world scenario of:
"Never did we have a scenario which started with “You are extremely fatigued, having stood deck watches of 6 hours on and 6 off for the past week, you are doing a tandem tow in the Gulf of Mexico when you receive a storm warning from NOAA, your starboard engine is overheating, the 3rd mate is sick…how do you provide Leadership……?”

How much of that is management of a particular situation versus leadership? Just thinking out loud here and I know the 2 concepts are intertwined. But if those aboard know what they are suppose to do and are doing it, then you are pretty much managing. When you begin to reallocate resources to meet a situation then you are leading. Is the Michael Carr’s proposed scenario a Kobayashi Maru (reference Star Trek) meaning a no-win situation?

Lastly the question of **“why does the military use civilian corporate office scenarios to teach us leadership”**is simply because it is a Course in a can. It has been approved and any changes would have to be re-approved. To much work to alter the power point presentations.


Most of us have worked our way from the bottom to the top of our respective positions. All the courses in the world do not detract from what you know is right or wrong in a particular situation. Leadership,management or whatever you want to call it… I did not look for the book in whatever negative event I found myself in. Your instinct will take over from lessons learned on your way up, from people more experienced than you. Hopefully resulting in a good ending for your particular maneuver.


During most, if not all, the leadership/management classes I have had to take there is an outline of applicable laws that have been put in place over the years. If there is anything to be learned from these courses is that there are potential legal outcomes when we do it wrong. The fact that these courses exist and have to be taken shows there are people in positions of authority out there that do not get it.

I have found that to be the case as well, not so much new operating skills, but staying within the latest laws that are everchanging. One of the last courses/seminars I attended before I retired there were two lawyers that made a presentation regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. We had a contest afterwards with who listened the most. I won the $20 grand prize…Whoopdee fucking doo

Two courses I took were very beneficial, the bridge management courses at Kings Point and the one offered at the Newport RI institution simulators in the late 90’s. Met some awesome Navy navigators at Flight Safety International and some pilots from NY that taught both courses. The simulation was in early stages, and looked like cartoons with no depth perception… Not like the new shit out there now. Did open my eyes up to proper voyage planning and making sure everyone was on the same page. Rest of the courses were about legal/illegal shit.

Not only that but the term leadership as being used in the case of Capt. Crozier, Vindman and others refers more to moral character. This is separate from the skill of influencing and motivating people.

For example in advanced firefighting class the term “natural leader” was used in a negative sense in that it was a bad idea to leave groups of people unsupervised in an emergency because of the risk that in the confusion one of them might convince the others to take action contrary to the overall response.

Would you keep the book "Ship Handling in Narrow Channels" open in the wheelhouse to consult while navigating a narrow channel?

No, of course not. Like most things that are complex and take time to learn handling a ship is learned in a sort of “leapfrog” method where a person observes how the ship behaves and responds, reads the book and then, armed with better understanding of principles, observes again, reviews etc.

Almost everyone has an intuitive sense of how other people will behave and respond to situations etc but in many cases those intuitions can be misleading.

Good article, not the usual crap.

In a crisis, leadership is responsible to minimize the damage, start the recovery, and implement future safeguards.

This no doubt conjures visions of great crisis leadership, heroically rising to the challenge, with perfectly honed leadership tools like command, open-mindedness, flexibility, decisiveness, empathy and communication.

But how can we ensure that as a leader we are able to exhibit these characteristics?

While it may sound un-inspirational and less heroic than simply stepping up to the challenge when it arises, true crisis leadership relies on making a resilient team that is capable of responding to a crisis at all levels.

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