Leaders Of Change Need To Become ‘Skilled Sailors’

Leaders need to become more ‘skilled sailors’ – we need to get better at seeing, processing, reacting to and leading change in times of disruption.

An age old quote of unknown origin says, “smooth seas never make a skilled sailor”. And 2020 was certainly a year filled with its share of rough seas. Challenges came in many forms – on the social, economic, political and technological fronts. One thing is for sure, most of us were not prepared for a year of such rough conditions.

One other thing also is for sure: leaders need to become more ‘skilled sailors’. In other words, we need to get better at seeing, processing, reacting to and leading change in times of disruption.

Building on this sailing theme even more, you learn quickly when sailing a vessel on a passage that a good bit of the time — maybe up to 90% — you’re actually not sailing directly to your destination. The currents, the wind, the tidal conditions, the depth of the seabed below all play a role in how you need to navigate through these disruptions to get from point A to point B, usually in a series of ‘zigzag maneuvers’ — called tacking and jibing — versus in a straight line. If you want to get from point A to point B under sail, you need to accept that at times you may appear to actually be off course.

As leaders, we more often than not prefer a linear approach of moving our teams from point A to point B. But, like sailing, that’s just not how business works.

“Leading in times of disruption and ambiguity means that you are going to have to bring yourself and your various teams, groups and businesses through some rough seas.”

2021 is no doubt going to be a year filled with ongoing challenges and opportunities, and even more disruptions that threaten the course you want to take. Leading in times of disruption and ambiguity means that you are going to have to bring yourself and your various teams, groups and businesses through these rough seas by tacking and jibing as you move.

You need to have a clear destination

There is, however, one critical thing to keep in mind about embracing disruption (rough seas), you need to have a clear destination. You need to have a vision for organizational change that has to be your North star, your anchor, your ultimate waypoint that you’re trying to reach.

How you get to that point and how you navigate your way will probably seem a little off course at times, but in times of disruption you need to hold true to that vision and that destination as you guide your teams through change.

So you need a clear vision on where you want to get to – and then constantly adjust to the conditions that are being presented to you, maintaining that true end destination.

We are committed in 2021 to building a community of great change cultivators – people who are really driving organizations forward in very disruptive times.

7 Leadership Lessons on Embracing Disruption for 2021

With this in mind, we think you will gain great value from our 7 Leadership Lessons on Embracing Disruption – to help you kick off the year with proven insights and stories from truly great change cultivators and leaders from diverse industries across the globe – those who have walked the talk and sailed the seas.

As an individual, you will get some rich learnings and insights. Or share it with your team and learn together as you journey into 2021.

Subscribe today and download your free copy of 7 LEADERSHIP LESSONS FOR EMBRACING DISRUPTION IN 2021

Each lesson has a brief description, three key learning nuggets and a full podcast. We are confident that you will get great value from these change leadership lessons as they help you be a better leader and activator of change in the year ahead.

The lessons include:


John Hayduk, (ex-COO & CTO of Tata Communications) who is a seasoned expert on Business Leadership and constant change, shares his insights around positioning a company in order to adapt to fast-paced and constant change – involving technology adoption, talent and hiring in times of disruption.

John Hayduk – Linkedin Profile


In this episode we chat to Mehul Kapadia Ex-MD of the Formula 1 business for Tata Communications and now COO of Motorsport Network (at time of recording, but recently appointed Global Head of Marketing, MNC at Vodafone Business). We go on a journey of how technology is making fundamental shifts in motorsport and sports in general. We also take a look at how fundamental changes are linked to consumption habits such as bite size content and user interactivity and engagement, without being in a stadium.

Mehul Kapadia – Linkedin Profile


Duncan Wardle, Ex-head of creativity and innovation at The Disney Company, shares that all humans are born with 4 distinct traits: creativity, intuition, curiosity and imagination. And throughout his career at Disney — and via his keynotes and workshops now — he has sought out and defined ways to help professionals unlock these uniquely human traits to embrace disruption and thrive.

Duncan Wardle – Linkedin Profile


Paul Gardiner, CEO of the Mantis Collection. discusses how they drove the constant re-invention of one of the world’s iconic travel and conservation brands. We dive into how this company bought into and were guided by a clear vision from an exemplary leader, made it their culture to be comfortable with constant change and shifting goalposts, and always operate with true purpose, passion and focus.

Paul Gardiner – Linkedin Profile


John Boyens, from Boyens University, discusses how traditional selling is changing in the virtual world. John speaks about the changes he has seen in the sales industry over the past 20 years and how our increasingly remote world is changing the sales process into the future. He gives some great tips, from a sales perspective, that apply to the industry as a whole in relation to leading change in times of transformation.

John Boyens – Linkedin Profile


Internationally recognized future of work influencer, best selling author, and award-winning publisher, Alan Hosking. takes us on a journey – unpacking the leadership element of seeing the unseen and developing truly impactful leadership qualities as well as skills.
Alan is an experienced leadership development expert and has been preparing senior leaders for the Future of Work for almost two decades.

Alan Hosking – Linkedin Profile


Vince Thompson, founder, and CEO at MELT (one of the largest independent sports marketing agencies in the US) is recognized as one of the most admired CEOs in Atlanta. Vince shares his experience and insight on leading teams in today’s times. We dig into all that’s affecting live sports & sponsorships and how he leads his team to make the changes required to “stay ahead of the game”, despite disruptions.

Vince Thompson – Linkedin Profile

Join our Community

We invite you to become part of our community at Change Cultivators – so please feel free to share, comment and like. Also, leaving a review helps us get these valuable lessons noticed and spread to a broader audience, so let us know what you thought.

Subscribe today and download your free copy of 7 LEADERSHIP LESSONS FOR EMBRACING DISRUPTION IN 2021

Catch the Change Cultivators podcast with co-hosts Rozzyn Boy and Patrick Fitzmaurice on any of your favorite podcast platforms – including Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

You can also join us on Linkedin for daily updates.

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