2019 Sheldon Kinney Lecture – Global Maritime Leadership

The 2019 Sheldon Kinney lecture was delivered on 15 October at WMU by RADM Jack Buono, Superintendent of the United States Merchant Marine Academy. The focus of his inspirational lecture was Global Maritime Leadership. 

In her welcome remarks, President Doumbia-Henry noted RADM Buono’s distinguished career in the maritime industry which resulted in his being honoured as the one of Lloyd’s List Top 100 most influential people in shipping between 2012-2015. “RADM Buono has a passionate interest in preparing the next generation of maritime leaders, making him an ideal speaker for the Sheldon Kinney Lecture Series,” she stated.

In his lecture, RADM Buono shared his philosophy of leadership which is: “Leadership is not about standing taller than your shipmates. Leadership is about helping your shipmates stand taller than yourself.” He maintained that good leaders recognize that the people they are working with are more important than themselves, and presented three rules of effective leadership:

  • Leaders know what is important
  • Leaders resource what is important
  • Leaders motivate

He also emphasized the importance of leaders ensuring that their team feels valued and that everyone understands, and feels connected to, the mission of the organization. Lifelong learning was also highlighted as essential to being a good leader.  

RADM Buono highlighted that, “wisdom is the application of lessons learned from prior mistakes.” It is important to be accountable for your mistakes as well as recognize the opportunities they provide for growth and learning. He proposed that the greatest enemy to achieving personal greatness is complacency. The human condition pushes us towards being comfortable, and he encouraged the audience to avoid complacency and to “stay in a constant state of mild discomfort,” in order to promote continuous and lifelong learning.

In referring to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, RADM Buono emphasized that global leaders are key to achieving success for the Global Goals. “The critics will say it’s not possible. These are significant challenges, but what we have proven, throughout the evolution of humanity, is that we have amazing potential to achieve.” What you must keep in mind is, “if you can think it, you can do it. If you limit yourself, you will never be able to do it,” he stated. 

RADM Buono stressed the importance of being globally aware and appreciative of what this world has to offer. Looking across the room of WMU students who hail from over 50 countries, he stated, “Looking at you, I’m looking at the world,” and he noted the inherent benefit of diversity and an awareness of global interdependence that WMU provides for its students.  

When asked about the biggest challenge for future maritime leaders, RADM Buono proposed that the challenge will be to define a new form of global leadership. One that is more responsive as change is going to be exponential and knowledge will need to be processed faster within shorter and more frequent cycles of development. Most importantly, he stressed, “Don’t accept critics telling you that you can’t do it.” 

About the Sheldon Kinney Lecture

RADM Sheldon Kinney was a distinguished US Navy veteran and former Rector (President) of the World Maritime University. In honor of the 20th anniversary of WMU and RADM Sheldon Kinney, the United States Friends of WMU established the Sheldon Kinney Lecture as a public lecture featuring internationally renowned guest experts in different areas of maritime transportation. The lectures took place annually from 2004 through 2008 and were relaunched in 2017. The Sheldon Kinney Lecture is funded by a small endowment from the US Friends of WMU and by WMU.

For a full album of photos from the 2019 Kinney Lecture, click here.

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