This is it. We’ve compared the Golden Age of Piracy to today’s business practices and it’s up to you to evaluate the facts and decide who comes out on top. But we have one last topic to explore, which has to do with teams, talent, and taking care of people. Before we set sail, so to speak, please let me ask you to be generous with your likes, your shares, and your comments! This is the fuel that keeps all writers going.
We know pirates rewarded exceptional loyalty and performance, and that most even had insurance coverage for the injured and elderly (not to mention the occasional widow and children). It was an effective and surprising system, considering the times. Let’s take a look at this topic from a more modern perspective.
Today, leaders ignore the input of others at their own peril. C-suite folks – if you’ve never been on the front lines of your own company, you can’t know what your people experience. You have no clue what they’re capable of. If you’re not willing to step in regularly (consider it a morale-building exercise), at least talk to them regularly and be willing to listen and learn from them.
In business and in life, people do things for you. When other people have somehow helped you to be successful because of their own talents, the decent thing to do is acknowledge them. You have no idea what it may have cost them. Sometimes, today, we take for granted that others will support us or be there to help, but that’s a pretty big assumption. Let them know you are aware of their effort and how it’s helped you.
One thing about today’s social world is that we often end up having a great deal in common with people at work. And too often, familiarity breeds contempt. When we don’t have the opportunity to see alternate skills in friends or family or employees, we tend to assume they don’t exist. Pirates didn’t limit their thinking that way. If someone handles a challenge well, maybe it’s because there’s more there than meets the eye. Captains weren’t afraid to promote talent and create new leaders. (Of course, promoting someone to captain meant the captain promoted himself to commodore, but what’s wrong with that?)
Compared to pirates, today’s leaders seem nearly afraid to recognize performance or take a chance that their own crew might be capable of more. And that’s a sad thing. Pirate crews worked hard for what they earned, but they deserved every bit. The incentive was vague, but we all know how hard people will work for gold. Preschool kids work hard for gold stars. And we never really outgrow that. A little motivation, in the form of recognition, goes a long way.
Now it’s up to you. Who wins this battle of leadership styles? The practical pirates? Or the modern managers? Comment with your vote below, and share so your colleagues (or crewmates) can vote, too. Here’s the thing: if you believe modern managers have the edge, fine. But if you take the side of the pirates…well, me hearties, your business is on the brink of epic change. Vive les pirates!