Lessons in Leadership: Integrating Courage, Vision, and Innovation for the Future of Sustainable Fisheries

A Productive and Humble Pathway to Leadership Development: Learning from the Best, the Worst, and Personal Refection and Criticism

Steven J. Cooke

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874608.ch2

For me, it started with a tackle box inherited from my grandpa. I never had the opportunity to go fishing with him, but I certainly used the treasures in that tackle box to catch a pile of fish and solidify my addiction for playing in and near water. I also spent hours watching and learning from fishing celebrities. The best ones would present their craft in a scientific framework, testing hypotheses and bringing along fishing guests from the science world. Those experiences collectively fueled my passion for working with and for fish for my career, but neither was inherently formative with respect to leadership. When I reflect on the ways in which I learned about what it meant to be a leader, it was always informal and about relationships. On a day-to-day basis, I was fortunate to be surrounded by individuals that were themselves leaders. My father was the CEO of the Canadian operations of a multinational corporation, and my mother was an educator. But at the end of the day, they were also my dad and my mom, and I remember more about that than their formal roles in leadership. Around our home, I learned about the importance of caring for others—being a good listener, polite, and thoughtful. During my formative years, I had no idea how important those fundamental skills—no, principles—were to being an effective leader.