Below Deck Leadership Dos and Don’ts

Captain Sandy Yawn
(Photo by: Laurent Basset/Bravo via Getty Images)

There have been many different styles of leadership featured in the Below Deck franchise. From the captains, to the Bosuns, to the Chief Stews, several cast members have been in charge of leading a team. But for every successful leader, there’s another who lets their teams down from time to time. These are the Below Deck leadership dos and don’ts, as learned from the yachties in charge.

Leadership Do – Take Immediate Action When Necessary

Aesha Scott, Captain Jason Chambers
(Photo by: Mark Rogers/Bravo via Getty Images)

Below Deck Down Under Season 2 featured one of the franchise’s most shocking and difficult scenes to watch. However, it was also a master class in top-notch leadership. Both Chief Stew Aesha Scott and Captain Jason Chambers couldn’t have handled the situation better.

The production crew thankfully intervened when naked Bosun Luke Jones climbed into bed with a passed-out Margot Sisson. Once Aesha found out, she sprung into action and immediately went to Captain Jason. After passing along this crucial information, Captain Jason took swift action by firing Luke and evicting him from the ship.

Aesha and Captain Jason did exactly what they should have, and they placed the safety of the crew members above all else. It was a difficult and scary situation, and Aesha and Captain Jason were right to take immediate action.

Leadership Don’t – Blindly Back Someone Who’s Problematic

Glenn Shephard, Gary King
(Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo via Getty Images)

On the other side of the coin, a good leader shouldn’t let their fondness for someone make them oblivious to problematic behavior. While Captain Glenn Shephard of Below Deck Sailing Yacht is generally well liked by fans, he does tend to overlook the behavior of his First Mate, Gary King.

For four seasons, viewers have watched Gary become embroiled in numerous messy love triangles, and the way he treats women leaves a lot to be desired. The way he felt slighted by Mads Herrera, who gave him a taste of his own medicine, is also very telling of how Gary really feels about that kind of behavior when it’s directed at him. Captain Glenn has never held Gary accountable for the trouble he causes among the female crew members, and it’s clear he’s playing favorites.

Things have escalated further, with a former Below Deck Sailing Yacht production team member accusing Gary of sexual misconduct. The allegations are troubling, and though unproven, it does follow a pattern of behavior Gary has exhibited in the past. Captain Glenn hasn’t commented on the allegations yet, but hopefully he thinks long and hard about whether he should be supporting Gary.

Leadership Do – Give Credit Where Credit’s Due

Captain Lee Rosbach, Kate Chastain, Courtney Skippon, Simone Mashile
(Photo by: Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Though Captain Lee Rosbach of Below Deck can be a harsh taskmaster, he exhibits great leadership by giving credit to his crew when they’ve earned it. It’s important as a leader to praise the successes and good effort coming from their team, instead of only doling out punishment and reprimands.

Captain Lee is never one to let his crew off easy if they’ve been slacking on the job. However, he’s also called his team into the wheelhouse to thank them for a job well done. People need to feel appreciated for the good work they do—it’s what inspires them to continue to work hard. If the only feedback a team receives is negative, it’s much easier for them to become resentful, which can have an adverse effect on productivity.

Over 10 seasons, Captain Lee has shown that he can give both positive and critical feedback, which is the kind of balance that all leaders should strive for.

Leadership Don’t – Let Your Anger Get the Better of You

Amy Johnson, Kate Chastain
(Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

One thing a good leader should never do is let their anger get the best of them. A leader’s job is to provide stability to their team, so it’s important that they not be too swayed by their emotions.

Chief Stew Kate Chastain isn’t great at this leadership requirement, which was on full display during an early season of Below Deck. Kate saw red when she was admonished by a charter guest for not smiling. Instead of taking it on the chin and keeping her anger to herself in an effort to not impact the rest of the crew’s tips, Kate made an…interesting decision.

Kate took to the primary guest’s room and left a perfectly-folded penis-shaped towel on his bed. What’s worse is that when confronted about it by Captain Lee, Kate initially denied it. It was a very impulsive and poor decision, and it could have had disastrous consequences. Fortunately, the guest took his dick towel in stride and found humor in Kate’s “revenge.” 

Still, Kate displayed poor judgment and bad leadership on that charter, and she should have kept her emotions in check for the sake of her fellow crew members.

Leadership Do – Lead By Example

Aesha Scott
(Photo by: Mark Rogers/Bravo via Getty Images)

A good leader will often lead by example, showing their team just what is expected of them. No one reflects this better than Aesha Scott, who is always charming and delightful with the guests—regardless of things going wrong behind the scenes. Aesha sets a good example for the stews under her leadership by demonstrating excellent service with a smile at all times.

Her example is one that inspires her stews to step up their own game and provide the best service possible. Aesha proves that it’s better to inspire team members to give work their best effort rather than to constantly criticize. 

Leadership Don’t – Micromanage

Sandy Yawn
(Photo by: Greg Endries/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

Captain Sandy Yawn of Below Deck Mediterranean has garnered a mixed response from fans. Some feel she’s doing a lot to create more opportunities for women in the male-dominated yachting industry. Others have called her out for her leadership skills. However, one of Captain Sandy’s biggest mistakes is her penchant for micromanaging.

Micromanaging, at its core, demonstrates a lack of trust in your team, which doesn’t exactly encourage them. Captain Sandy has been criticized for keeping too close of an eye on her crew and nit-picking everything they do. This kind of behavior from a leader often creates a bad work environment that puts unnecessary pressure on team members, which often leads to more mistakes, not fewer.

The Below Deck leadership examples run the gamut, from great to…not so great, and the franchise serves as a lesson on how to be an effective leader.