Sailing leadership programs are innovative, hands-on courses offering a unique approach to learning essential leadership and teamwork skills. Sailing leadership programs draw on the inherent challenges and opportunities of the sailing environment to cultivate robust leaders with resilience, strategic thinking, and team-oriented mindsets that seamlessly translate into the workplace.
Community Sailing of Colorado, in partnership with Full Sail Leadership Academy, now includes a leadership development program in its growing suite of sailing adventures. The program combines classroom work and sailing to build a solid foundation to prepare leaders to be as effective as possible. Continue reading to learn about this exciting new offering and how sailing leadership programs offer a unique and impactful approach to leadership development.
Theoretical Underpinning: Experiential Learning
A sailing leadership program is steeped in the theory of experiential learning, a model of learning through direct engagement and reflection. Introduced by educational theorist David Kolb, it suggests that the most profound learning occurs when individuals are actively involved in their education and then take the time to reflect on their experiences.
Sailing thrusts individuals into an environment where they must rely on their understanding, adaptability, and team collaboration to succeed. The experience encourages participants to grapple with the concepts of leadership and teamwork, which they can then apply and reflect upon in a real-world context.
Navigating Leadership: Skills Acquired Through Sailing
Leadership development programs leveraging sailing foster various skills that contribute to effective leadership.
- Problem-Solving and Strategic Thinking
The dynamic nature of sailing requires individuals to think on their feet and make quick, efficient decisions. Leaders must exhibit these traits in navigating the complex corporate landscape.
- Teamwork and Collaboration
A sailboat functions best when every member of the team works together seamlessly. Similarly, organizations thrive when their team members collaborate effectively.
- Resilience and Stress Management
Sailing often involves challenging and unpredictable conditions, teaching participants to remain resilient and manage stress effectively. These are essential traits for leaders dealing with high-pressure situations in the workplace.
Clear and precise communication is crucial in sailing and the business world. Miscommunication or lack of communication can lead to errors, emphasizing the importance of solid communication skills.
- Risk Versus Reward
Another central concept of a sailing leadership program integrated into various aspects of the curriculum is risk versus reward. Participants learn to assess situations accurately and make informed decisions, particularly in high-pressure scenarios.
Riding the Waves: Transferring the Skills to the Workplace
The experiential nature of sailing leadership programs allows for the practical application of theoretical leadership concepts, enhancing their efficacy.
- Enhanced Decision-Making
Sailing requires an accurate understanding of the risks involved — understanding the environment, equipment, and individual capabilities. Similar risk assessments are necessary in the business world, whether it’s regarding financial investments, market expansions, or new product launches.
Sailing leadership program participants may face challenging situations that require swift and decisive action, often under pressure. The same is true in business, making the sailing experience extremely valuable.
- Strengthened Team Cohesion
Each member of a sailing crew has a specific role and responsibility. It requires strong leadership to coordinate these roles effectively and ensure the crew works together. The approach directly applies to business, where leaders must coordinate different departments or team members to work toward common objectives.
Sailing leadership programs nurture teamwork, which translates to a more cohesive workplace. Leaders learn to value each team member’s contributions, fostering an environment of respect and collaboration.
- Boosted Resilience
Sailing is only sometimes smooth; it teaches people to be resilient and to persevere through challenges and adverse conditions. The same traits are essential for any business leader dealing with setbacks and challenges. Sailing leadership programs can augment a leader’s resilience, equipping them to maneuver these challenges gracefully and calmly.
- Improved Communication
Participants in sailing leadership programs often show improved verbal and nonverbal communication skills. They understand the importance of precise instructions, active listening, and assertive communication, benefiting team coordination and performance.
The Community Sailing of Colorado and Full Sail Leadership Academy programs stress the importance of shared language, taking the time to understand what is “below the waterline” in the lives of fellow team members and crew mates. It emphasizes empathetic leadership and stewarding the people working under the leaders.
For example, while working on a sailboat, leaders and team members need to think at a system-theory level and understand the impact of their actions on the overall team performance.
Sail With Us!
Sailing is an invaluable tool that develops essential skills to be a successful and effective business leader. The skills developed in our sailing leadership program are highly transferable to the business world. The environment may differ, but the fundamental principles of leadership and decision-making remain the same.
If you’re leading an organization, consider the Community Sailing of Colorado leadership development program in partnership with Full Sail Leadership Academy. It’s a fantastic addition to any organization’s leadership program.
Community Sailing of Colorado also offers classes, camps, instruction for people of all skill levels and ages, and programs for adults and families to learn to sail or expand their sailing knowledge with evening clinics and classes.