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Why Below Deck’s Captain Sandy Is One Of My Leadership Heroes 

By November 14, 2022No Comments

We all have our guilty pleasures and I’m not ashamed to say binging on series after series of Below Deck is one of mine. I have lost countless hours (probably days) watching various groups of “yachties” dealing with difficult guests, boat malfunctions, chef tantrums, crew relationship breakups etc. In short, it’s brilliant TV! 

As someone who co-runs a business, one of the things I really love about the show is watching how the crew functions as a team – or how often they don’t function because of a miscommunication or altercation.  

Although everything is happening on glamorous multimillion dollar yachts in the Med – it’s like someone is holding a mirror up. Many of the challenges the crews face are the same challenges all teams go through… whether you are working for a startup, corporate, summer camp or corner-shop.  

Pardon the pun, but we are all in the same boat. People are complicated, we are motivated by different things, there are fall outs, tensions… but when everyone rows in the same direction, feels motivated, cares about their team members – it’s a beautiful thing. 

But in the midst of some pretty stormy situations – there has been one individual on the show who has really resonated with me. Not only is she an inspirational leader who sets high standards, gives clear instructions and knows exactly what she wants – she’s also kind and has a genuine empathy for her crew… even the ones that fall flat on their faces. That lady is Captain Sandy Yawn… all hail! 

If you’ve not heard of her, Sandy has inspired millions – not just because she’s a woman in a male-dominated job role, an LGBTQ+ spokesperson or someone who has overcome cancer – but simply as a bloody brilliant leader. She doesn’t just set the standard, she’s also not afraid to get her hands dirty and graft with the crew to help them learn. She’s calm in a crisis and is always three steps ahead when it comes to solutions. Basically, go to Sandy and she’ll sort it. See it, say it, sort it (sorry, I’m writing this blog on a LNER train). 

This may sound a little gushy, but when I look at our company, Thinking Hat, I’m reminded of how lucky we are to have someone who has some Sandy-esque traits at our helm. Emma Heley will hate me for saying this, but she’s always been a solid rock in a storm, for me personally and for the company. I’m not entirely sure how I’d feel about her sailing a boat, but when it comes to navigating choppy waters, taking a no-BS approach and caring about fellow team members, there’s no one else I’d want leading our crew.  

But back to Capt Sandy, if you are not familiar with her, this video is a great introduction!

Read David’s thoughts on the similarities between lockdown parenting and business management.