strategic, mast, sailing

Be the Mast: Stability and Leadership During Crisis

December 17, 2020

One of the things I enjoy most is sailing. I try and spend as much time as I can sailing, and it has taught me many important lessons that I frequently apply to my life and my business.

For example, think about the mast of a ship. It’s that tall spiky thing that sticks up, typically, from the centerline of the boat. This is where the sails are attached up high to propel the boat. A place where the lights are affixed so that the boat can be seen at night. A tall stronghold where you put the radio antenna and other instruments to get weather readings of what is going on around you.

Ultimately, the mast is the center point of the boat. And it handles many important things – just like you do – during a crisis. What’s important to understand about masts is that they are supported and held together with wires. These wires, called shrouds, allow the mast to stay strong and functional even during the wildest storms. Masts don’t do their jobs alone.

When you’re in a crisis situation, you are the mast.

Strategic communicators are the central point where the energy-wise advice, clear-headed decision making, smart tactics – comes from and is radiated out to the rest of the team. It’s the place where you cast a light on what actions are going to be taken next. You, like the radio affixed to the mast, gather and distribute the intelligence.

Like masts, strategic communicators should not do the job alone. It’s important to know how you are supported and guyed by your team. Think of who it is that ensures you get the critical, time-sensitive information. Who are the team members you want to support you with the necessary resources, the inputs, and outputs that inform crisis response?

Ask yourself this question: How do you make sure that you have the support needed to be your absolute best and be the mast your organization is counting on?

I’d like to invite you to do two things.

First, take a look at the articles on this blog. We’ve crafted them for leaders like you who play a central role as the “mast” during a crisis. You’ll find helpful strategies as well as valuable resources for you and your organization.

Second, schedule a call with me to talk about the mindset you need – how you show up to a crisis – to best help your organization weather the storm. 


Filed under: Blog | Crisis Leadership


Bill is a reputation management, crisis communications and professional development expert, keynote speaker, Wall Street Journal Risk & Compliance panelist, and best-selling author of Critical Moments: The New Mindset of Reputation Management. He has more than 25 years of global experience managing high-stakes crises, issues management, and media relations challenges for both Fortune 500 companies and winning global political campaigns.