Effective leadership on land echoes it at sea

­Jessica Wurzbacher | Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island executive director

Executing on a mission as ambitious as ours requires meeting a number of challenges, and not just the construction of the first full-rigged, oceangoing tall ship to be built in the United States in more than a century.

For one thing, $16 million had to be raised to pay for the venture. At the same time, we had to develop the programming that is required of Rhode Island’s official sailing educational vessel, the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry.

In order to make the full project a reality, I have kept these three thoughts in mind:

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• On a ship, the most challenging times are the most rewarding and when our students learn the most. The same is true ashore. I try not to fear challenges and difficulties but understand they are essential for growth. I use them to explore ways for improvement and progress. This is balanced by marking and celebrating achievements and successes.

• At sea, you are dependent on your crew. The same is true ashore. I enjoy surrounding myself with great people who share the passion for our mission, and are highly skilled in their area of expertise, often complementary to mine. I don’t feel threatened but recognize that it ultimately helps us all to succeed and then empower them in their role to have freedom to make decisions and take ownership of their work.

• Innate to life at sea is good communication. The importance of this was recognized at an organizational level when we restructured our mission statement to be memorable, clear and concise.