I love using this boat scene from the movie Caddyshack as a leadership metaphor. Rodney Dangerfield’s character, Al Czervik, is a typical visionary leader. He gets so excited seeing his “buddy”, Judge Smails that he pushes the Captain, the guy who actually knows what he is doing, out of the way to steer toward the Judge yelling “full speed ahead!”
While Rodney’s boat is speeding through the harbor’s NO WAKE ZONE, it produces an enormous wake that tosses and turns unsuspecting boats, docks, swimmers, and fisherman with drastic yet hilarious effect. Rodney’s character blasts the boats horns and tries to yell for people to get out of the way but it’s too late. He never thought through the needs of his Captain, the passenger, others in the harbor or the NO WAKE situation. He sinks the Judges boat and without realizing the damage he has caused everyone, thinks only of himself as he claims, “hey you scratched MY anchor”.
So how is this a leadership metaphor? As a leader our actions, moods, emotions, meetings, decisions and “flavor of the month” initiatives also produce an enormous wake. Our wake also encompasses the accountability or lack thereof which we allow of our teams, managers and employees behavior.
Here’s the thing, as a leader, you are constantly at choice and accountable for your choices. You must Own Our Own Wake. Have no doubt – your wake has a long-lasting effect on your culture, customers, growth and profit.
Make the conscious choice everyday of how your wake will affect your culture, your people and your customers positively!