Leaders Chart the Course: What We Can Learn About Leadership from The Mayflower
November 11, 1620
Traveling the dangerous waters of the Atlantic Ocean, 102 passengers left Southampton, England headed to a new land inhabited by “uncivilized” Indians.
Their ship, the Mayflower.
Their settlement, the Plymouth Plantation.
These along with their harrowing voyage would be forever stitched into the fabric of our nation.
I visited the Plymouth Plantation last year when I traveled to Boston for a conference (a replica of the original). There I saw several examples of courageous leadership. I would like to share one with you.
Leadership On a Ship
Before landing, the people on the Mayflower drafted and signed a document that would govern their affairs, a document that honors the members of the group and submits everyone equally to the rule of laws – laws that they would create.
The Mayflower Compact is now considered one of the most important documents that set the tone of the rule of law for this new nation.
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620
Leaders Chart the Course
This is a superb example of how in uncertain times leaders chart the course. It would have been easier for them not to engage in the intense debate and decision making of the document, just as we so many times brush things under the rug when times get tough.
Are you sailing dangerous waters with your team? Is your team crystal clear about what is acceptable behavior? Making expectations clear as to how people should treat one another on your team is of profound importance.
May we lead with courage and wisdom like those who sailed the Mayflower.
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