Publication details [#5670]

Hay, Julie. 2004. Sailship success: A metaphor for leaders. 4 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
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At the IDTA Annual Conference in September 2004, the theme was ‘I’m okay, you’re okay, they’re okay: leading with integrity’. Presenters covered a wide range of familiar and less familiar transactional analysis (TA) models applied to leadership, including contracting for organisational change, seven types of power, TA presuppositions, cycles of development, functional fluency – plus TA applied to technology, mentoring, competencies and the solutions focus approach. My session was on the model I call Sailship Success (see illustration), which I have developed using the metaphor of a sailing ship to represent the organisation. A metaphor is a way of understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another. This has benefits in terms of prompting people to step outside their current perceptual limits and to ‘see’ things in new ways – enabling them to identify both problems and options that they may have been overlooking. The Sailship Success metaphor contains elements of the ship and those who sail it, and of the sea and the weather, that can be taken to represent a wide range of aspects related to organisational cultures, structures, operations and personnel. This particular metaphor, therefore, prompts leaders to consider the more strategic elements of their leadership role and not just the ‘soft skills’ associated with leading people. It also reflects reality in that a ship must make its way on an unpredictable ocean, just as leaders can never predict with total certainty what aspects of the environment might impact next on their organisation. Leaders can be invited to consider each part of the metaphor in turn, in terms of what they have now, what might happen in the future (positive and negative scenarios), what they are able to change or at least influence, and what they need to do about any of this. (Julie Hay)