Leadership and the challenges it presents continues to be one of the most talked about subjects in yachting – and with good reason.
Leaders are responsible for influencing talent and infusing team culture through the ranks from the very top echelons. Indeed, understanding your yacht crew, getting the best out of them and thus inspiring crew longevity is crucial to success.
Martin Mainey, Luxury Hospitality’s Head of Leadership and Coaching asserts: “Primarily the greatest challenge for all leaders in the superyacht industry is crew retention - the impact crew retention has on building high performing teams and sustaining them is significant.”
Yacht Crew Leadership Forum
With this in mind, Luxury Hospitality has collaborated with the PYA (Professional Yachting Association) to conduct a comprehensive industry-wide survey to look at the variety of issues which can influence leadership, paving the way for healthy onboard culture and improved crew retention.
“The PYA has received feedback from our members and from the wider crew and onshore network that the yachting industry critically lacks adequate leadership,” says Stacey Soutar, Communications Manager at the PYA. “Those crew who are in leadership positions are only required to demonstrate their technical capability for their role but leadership skills which meet the entire demands of the role – including the human element, crew wellbeing, mentorship and team dynamics - are all aspects which aren’t included in the traditional requirements to take up an onboard leadership position.”
The findings will be unveiled at the LH and PYA hosted Yacht Crew Leadership Forum, which takes place during the Palma Boat Show on 29th April 2022. A further event is also planned for the Monaco Yacht Show later this year.
Leadership - why now?
Both LH and the PYA believe now is the perfect time for all aspects and levels of yachting to address and understand leadership shortfalls.
“Leadership shortfalls need to be better understood from those individuals who manage, crew, charter and sell vessels as they have a huge influence on how crew are placed in leadership positions and the demands they are put under in their roles,” adds Stacey. “These professionals can also give further insight on the new demands placed on crew and provide ideas and support on ways crew can be better equipped to meet them.”
Key areas of focus
Leadership style and how it impacts on making people feel valued, safe and secure is the first of three main areas of focus according to Martin. “Great leadership leads to crew wanting to stay on board, whereas poor leadership, where there is little care, attention or focus on how people are feeling, impacts on happiness, harmony, performance and wellbeing. You can tell very quickly when you walk on board what type of leadership style is in place and the impact it’s having on crew.”
Personal development is also crucial, with people more interested in yachting as a long-term career option now as opposed to a gap year or short-term seasonal job. “Personal development is a big deal,” adds Martin. "Crew see the value in taking an opportunity to add to their skill sets through technical based qualifications or personal and leadership development courses."
Thirdly, it’s hard to overstate the impact of crew wellbeing on retention in terms of both physical and mental health. “Living and working on a superyacht is different to working in a land-based job,” he explains. “You’re together 24/7 so there’s no escape. Great leaders focus on crew wellbeing and ensure it is monitored and delivered. If it isn’t monitored or supported, crew mental health suffers and that can impact on them deciding to leave their yacht or leave yachting entirely.”
Aims of the Yacht Crew Leadership Forum
The Yacht Crew Leadership Forum aims to inspire and achieve greater awareness of the need for strong leadership practices. “We want to raise the profile and importance of great leadership and how important it is to the sector in retaining crew and developing high performance teams,” summarises Martin. ‘While salary and rotation are of course big draws, if crew are happy and feel valued and respected by their managers, they generally stay.’
Lynne Edwards, LH’s Insight specialist, agrees, adding: “We are also looking for opinions from attendees at this event as to what they think makes a good leader. At LH, we have courses available for all levels of learning including Self-Mastery, Leading Through Synergy, Leading Tribes and Leading Your Organisation to Success.
A specially assembled, soon to be announced panel of experienced industry professionals including captains, chief stews, chief engineers and chefs will talk frankly about leadership challenges and the best ways to inspire your team and create a cohesive and comfortable environment.
Adds Stacey: “We would like to use the survey and discussion during the event to bring awareness to the issue and further understanding on the ways this can be improved through traditional learning and onboard mentoring. We would also like to provide crew with some practical tools to immediately improve their leadership on board and resources and courses they can access to bridge any knowledge or skill gaps.”
Why good leadership matters
“Self-leadership training is important for everyone – for land-based leaders in crew recruitment and yacht management as much as for onboard crew,” adds Lynne. “If you can't lead yourself, then you can't possibly hope to lead others.
“There has been a lack of recognition to date for leadership training for all HoDs - this is now mandatory via HELM (Human Element and Leadership Training) and MCA accredited. IAMI accredited GUEST Leadership courses are equally as good. Operation and Management levels are available for Captains and Deck, but not for interior crew.”
Following the recent Quaynote event in Nice last month, two elements became evident according to Lynne. “Young people entering the industry expect and very much appreciate good leadership on joining a vessel,” she says. “And good leadership has a very positive effect on crew longevity as it vicariously effects crew engagement and motivation. This in turn has a positive effect on the enjoyment of the owners and on the levels of maintenance for the vessel.”
An event not to be missed
The Yacht Crew Leadership Forum is being held at Astilleros de Mallorca in Palma on April 29th. It is open to all and free to register, offering every level of the yachting industry an amazing opportunity to chat and network informally with other professionals. Participants will also have their questions answered by experts in leadership training.
“It will be a great opportunity to hear key industry figures sharing their thoughts and will open up the debate on the best way forward,” adds Martin. “Working in the superyacht industry can be one of the greatest jobs there is but it’s only great when leadership and culture are positive and healthy. When leadership is poor and culture is unhealthy, people stick it out in environments that are not healthy, which can significantly damage mental health and wellbeing.”
How to register
Register at https://bit.ly/3uc1XNT