Beyond some great business authors and books devoted to leadership, one of the enjoyable places to learn about this enduring subject is from real-life stories where true leadership made a huge difference.
Not only between success and failure…but even between life and death. One such story is in the recently released book titled “The Fourth Fisherman,” by Joe Kissack. It’s the TRUE story of 3 Mexican fishermen who were lost at sea for 9 months. They drifted 5500 miles across the Pacific Ocean in a 25 foot, fiberglass boat…and survived on raw fish and rainwater.
I just finished reading this nail-biter. There are so many fascinating parts to the story: how their faith and the blood of 108 sea turtles sustained them; how uneducated laborers handled the rumor-hungry press from around the world after their rescue; and the author’s own roller coaster journey from hyper-successful, to the pit of despair, to miraculous recovery.
I couldn’t help noticing, however, what a subtle but vital role the LEADERSHIP of one of the 3 survivors played.
The long journey started with five men, but ended with three…as two died within weeks. One who died, Juan, was the “leader.” At least by TITLE. As the owner of the boat, he was the captain.
But when their problem shifted on the second day of the trip from recovering equipment that had been lost during a storm to surviving at sea without food or fresh water…he caved. His stubbornness and pride caused their situation to deteriorate rapidly…and ultimately cost him his life.
Salvador, on the other hand, turned out to be THE man for the job. Without him…all would have perished. He was the most prepared on the tiny boat, yet he did not usurp Juan’s authority.
He led with a quiet confidence, by example, and never spoke badly of Juan (despite Juan’s catastrophic mistakes in judgment). Salvador’s character and leadership style spawned respect and trust…causing the others to WANT to follow.
He first emerged as the de facto leader as Juan was crumbling before their eyes…then as the FORMAL leader after Juan was buried at sea.
Salvador convinced the other men to surrender the outcome to God…while devising and executing the best possible human plan…under circumstances that would be unbearable to most.
Whether to glean leadership principles or for pleasure reading, The Fourth Fisherman is a must read.
Oh…and by the way, if you’d like to invite Joe to speak to your group, you can send an email to email@example.com, or you can
Scott Kaufman is the founder of Convergence Recruiting, a firm that helps organizations hire and retain peak performers.
He has successfully placed executives in large and small companies, non-profits, most industries, and for all functional areas of leadership (including general management, operations, finance, HR, IT, marketing, and sales).
Typical clients have revenues of $15MM to $500MM with 50 to 1,000 team members.
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