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Thursday, April 4, 2013


Much of a leader’s power derives from his/her shared values with the people they lead. If a leader does not share those values, a gap between leaders and their team opens and the leader often does things unintentionally that widen the gap.

As the gap widens, eventually a spokesperson, someone who can express the team’s values, will emerge. And that spokesperson can often “shake up” the organization.
According to Patrick Murphy and Ray Coye in their book Mutiny and Its Bounty: Leadership Lessons From the Age of Discovery”, that scenario from today’s business world is very similar to the mutinies described by the great explorer captains of the Age of Discovery: Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Sebastian Cabot, and Henry Hudson.

Murphy and Coe suggest that today’s organizational leaders have much to learn about leadership and tactics from these earlier masters who not only quelled mutinies but also built upon such incidents to strengthen their enterprises.

Buy time. When his men were mutinous, Columbus “proclaimed to all that if land was not discovered in three days, they would turn around,” Murphy and Coye write. “He took the focus off himself as a leader.” They spotted land two days later. page 30

Opaqueness is a virtue. “The crew granted [explorer Sebastian] Cabot trust because no one could figure him out,” Murphy and Coye write. “Cabot described a strategy for success that none could understand.” page 81

Middle Management is vital for maintaining order. “Magellan managed that gap by strategically replacing his captains with new ones who shared his values,” Murphy and Coye write. “Leaders who understand the echelon gap can do much to diffuse mutinous action.” page 179

“The best strategy for quieting mutiny is to first depose its ringleader, a role similar to that of the leader of an entrepreneurial venture,” Murphy and Coye write. Cabot dealt successfully and “aggressively wit ringleaders on multiple occasions.” He marooned nine and executed two. page 195

Entrepreneurs shake up markets, whereas mutineers shake up organizations. Which are you? And, if you find yourself in a mutinous situation (either as a leader or a team member) are you ready to deal with the situation?

If you want to buy a copy of “
Mutiny and Its Bounty”,
CLICK HERE (link to book on
Mutiny and Its Bounty: Leadership Lessons From the Age of Discovery”
(Yale University Press) by Patrick Murphy and Ray Coye,
Bloomberg Businessweek 3/25/13

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks much for this post.
patrick j murphy

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