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Captain Bligh and Leadership

Mutiny on the Bounty

Captain William Bligh's problems on the Bounty is an excellent example on how one man changed from control leadership to team unity in a matter of minutes, 200 hundred years ago.

Captain William Bligh micro managing the HMS Bounty crew and wanted everyone to know he was the boss, which was more important to him than efficiency. To compound the problem, he considered maximum control as a means to achieve efficiency. As a result, everything went wrong. The crew finally had enough, mutinied, and cast Captain Bligh and eighteen crewmembers adrift in a lifeboat. Without charts or navigation interments, they sailed the open boat 3,600 miles to the Dutch colony, Timor, near Java. This outstanding achievement is only possible with a team united behind a common goal and the use of comfort zone navigation, the art of using intuitive forces where facts are not available.

The above story has elements of every work environment, the struggle between getting the job done and leaders desire for control. Social prejudice and intuitive forces are always working in the background that will develop a supporting or fighting attitude. In Captain Bligh's case, he managed by control and the seamen were resisting control. Each side was in a fighting mood and each was searching for ways to outwit the other, not an efficient way to get things done.

Aboard the Bounty, Captain Bligh's priority was total control. In the lifeboat things were different, priority was survival, or get the job done. Survival automatically unites people into a team where team members are willing to listen to others opinions, free of social prejudice.

There were three teams on board the Bounty, each with their own goal as follows:
1. Scientist - they were focused on Bounty's mission.
2. Officers - they searched for ways to increased control over the seamen.
3. Seamen - they searched for ways to resist control.

After the mutiny, the mission was survival and everyone involved was totally focused on that common goal. Captain Bligh was now willing to listen to the opinions of the crew. Getting the job done became more important than control.

Leadership Aboard Bounty  Leadership in Lifeboat
  1. Control has priority.
  2. Social prejudice.
  3. Three groups pulling in different directions.
  4. Decisions based on preconceived opinions. (Social Prejudice)
  5. Control was the goal which resulted in no unity.
  1. Team unity has priority. 
  2. No prejudice. 
  3. All groups pulling together. 
  4. Decisions based on intuitive forces. (Comfort zone navigation)
  5. Unity was the goal, which resulted in control.
Leadership style that led to disaster. Leadership style that produced super results.
Above I stated, "Captain Bligh changed his leadership style in a matter of minutes." What had changed from the ship to the lifeboat was the structure of organization. On the ship, there were three divisions, each with their own goal. On the lifeboat, there was one one division with a single united goal. The structure of organization caused him to change his attitude, which caused an apparent change in leadership style. In short, organization structure controls leadership style.
Intuitive sensitivity become very pronounced in hostile environments compared to protected environments. We live in a very protective society, for this reason, we are not fully aware of the influence intuitive forces have on us. Comfort zone navigation

Team unity was used to overcome a disaster, not run a ship that would have prevented a disaster. Had the crew been motivated to achieve a common goal from the start, the voyage would have been a huge success.

Team motivation is a natural aboard windjammers. At sea, aboard sailing vessels, the results of crews' decisions are experiences NOW! And the reasons for the decisions are understood NOW! Crewmembers develop a desire to explore and learn about the world they live in. Windjammers are natural learning machines.

Comfort Zone Navigation (Intuitive Forces)

How did the Polynesians populate the Pacific Ocean 2,000 years ago without charts or navigation interments? By comfort zone navigation.

People can navigate across oceans and arrive at their destination by using their comfort zone. (Gut feelings, intuitive forces) Where there is a lack of knowledge and the need to know, we base final decisions on intuitive forces. This is how we achieve any goal in life, whether it be sailing across oceans, building a business, or any achievement. Comfort zone navigation is how the Polynesians populated the Pacific Ocean. This is how Captain Bligh navigated 3,600 miles to the Dutch colony in Timor without charts or navigation tools. Super achievers depend on intuitive forces to make the right decisions where facts are missing.

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