When things start going wrong…

…do not forget your main goal is to fly the plane. When I was learning to become a licensed pilot in Alaska as a teenager, part of the process was learning what to do when something goes wrong with the plane.  Instead of talking about what I would do in a given situation, I actually had to demonstrate what I would do in any given emergency situation and show the flight instructor I could do the right thing correctly.  That way, when a pilot is faced with the reality of trouble, they know exactly what to do.  Practicing how to recover from stalls (when the plane won't stay in the air) and emergency landings are a normal part of learning to fly.  No matter what the challenge, one thing a pilot can never forget while troubleshooting the problem; keep flying the airplane! So too, when leaders are faced with challenges and issues in the business, never forget to keep leading, even while trying to figure out what to do next.

In addition to the most obvious and basic lesson from flying in the title, listed below are three additional lessons I have integrated into my leadership practice over the years based on my experience with flying:
  • File a Flight Plan ~ before every planned flight, pilots declare a destination and file a flight plan documenting their intended route to reach their destination. The intent is that someone else knows where the pilot was going in case something happens and they know where to start looking for them. Effective business leaders know and understand the value a written and well-communicated plan has on the organization’s ability to execute. A plane is never exactly on course during the flight, but is always adjusting to a declared destination. A business is never exactly on plan, yet effective leaders are piloting their teams to achieve desired results!
  • Use All Your Resources ~ pilots have a plethora of resources both internally in the plane and externally on the ground to ensure they have a successful flight. Internally, the instruments let the pilot know how everything is working and if the plane is flying as it should. Externally, the control tower, flight service stations and other pilots provide additional information to the pilot in real time to keep them on course. Effective business leaders also know how to leverage the full capability of their internal resources to provide the information they need to make effective leadership decisions. They also rely on external feedback to ensure they are still on a competitive course and altitude in their respective markets and industries!
  • Keep Learning ~ the physics of flying are fundamentally the same. Regardless of whether you fly a two-seat Cessna or a Boeing 747, all planes fly using the same three axes of yaw, pitch and roll. Effective pilots always look for ways to improve their flying based on all the different conditions they will come across. Learning to fly in Alaska, the weather conditions can change in minutes dramatically changing the flying experience. So too, effective leaders are constantly developing their leadership skills, knowledge and attitudes to be adaptable and effective in a myriad of operational situations. Whether you are a small business owner, a non-profit leader or lead a global corporation, the physics of business are fundamentally the same, yet the context of how these fundamentals are applied changes daily. Effective leaders know how to respond based on their attitude of continuous learning!
Being an effective pilot requires focus, practice and the ability to not let distractions get in the way of your destination. Effective leaders focus on their game plan and never miss an opportunity to practice and refine their leadership craft and to not let distractions get in the way of achieving their desired results!

How is your current leadership altitude and course heading?

Lead Well!

You are never too old to learn…
“Beware the lollipop of mediocrity…
 

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Saturday, 27 November 2021