Leadership is the ability to lead a group of people towards a successful goal in an organization. This is a simple definition of the word, the difficult part is to become great leaders for the success of your team. In aviation, organizations need great leaders and great managers, that can act in such a way to achieve common goals with their team.
Bad personality, lack of good communications skills, lack of self-confidence, lack of good listening skills are just some of the obstacles that prevent successful leaders to develop in an organization.
The goal here is to understand how a flexible leadership committed to the success of the team is much more effective than a leadership pointing to fossilize on one’s ideas without considering the team as part of a joint project. Managers can learn this and be more successful in managing people.
Who has never had a boss, a colleague or co-worker that tried so hard just to prove his idea was best than yours, jeopardizing a project or a relation??
If you have ever managed a group of people you might have understood that the leader is someone everybody looks up to when things go bad or when the job gets hard. Leaders must have certain qualities that distinguish them from the other members of the team.
Leadership management is the mix of the skills you expect a leader to have: soft skills like active listening, giving positive and constructive feedback, knowing how to communicate to get people to do their job, but still making them feel satisfied with doing it.
Other than these soft skills, leaders must also know how to sustain large amounts of stress, fatigue, workload, criticism and bad moods amongst the people he or she works with. These skills are more personal and cannot be taught, but can be trained with time.
You can easily develop good resilience to stressful situations by finding your personal way to deal with it. Sometimes you can get stuck in some bad situations where your mind produces more negative thoughts than positive. My advice, in this case, is to get in touch with a professional coach and talk things through to find a good coping strategy.
The best leaders are those who lead by example
There are many things you can learn to improve your leadership skills, but in my experience, there is one thing that has to be understood very well: good leaders lead by example. He knows he has to have a strong personality to face many different situations, always under pressure and under the eye of everyone around. But, nevertheless, a good leader knows how to face things and is always the first one to act and find solutions to problems. He is the first to give a good example.
Good leaders seek to bring out the best from their team members who are responsible for specific departments or projects. Results count in any organization, therefore good performance is everything.
Always keep in mind this rule: good performance allows you to get good results. So if you’re a manager, your attention has to be focused on helping your team improve their performance. Not with criticism, but by leading!
You are a true leader only if the people in your team, recognize your leadership. It’s too easy to hide behind your role, behind a mask giving orders or criticizing other people’s job.
Work for your team and not for yourself
A true leader is recognized by the team members and as a manager, you must know how to adapt to different situations and different people to get the best for the company and for your team. NEVER for yourself!
These three simple points can guide you when you need to understand what is your role as a leader.
- Clear ideas
- Clear goals
- Dedication and Energy
Having clear ideas and goals allows you to have under control all that can harm the company or your team. Any problem has to be dealt with and cannot be ignored in any way. Finding solutions will be easier if you have clear goals in mind. Write them down and read them from time to time.
Dedication and energy are the fuel needed to carry out goals and obtain successful results, therefore total dedication to your work and giving energy to what you do brings significant results.
Becoming a good leader is not easy. A good idea is to follow a leadership course and learn how to be more effective and efficient. Particularly in aviation, good leadership can have an impact on safety, efficiency and productivity.
Given the increase of passengers flying in the next 20 years (almost double compared to now), there is a need for more managers with the right skills that can improve people performance, reduce costs, increase productivity and implement better safety standards. IATA has already shown us that aviation is lacking people with the right skills and training needs to be improved.
To do this you need the right training and a good option is to find online leadership courses that can help you get a better idea on how to improve your leadership skills.
What should you learn as a leader?
- Decision making
- Active listening
- Time management
- Project management
These are technical skills that can help you make decisions correctly and find solutions to problems. It is not easy, sometimes there is very little time to decide and one has to do something before the situation gets worse. Pilots are quite used to this, in fact, their leadership skills are often very effective and they are trained to be responsible for their decisions and actions.
Communicating properly and listening are also very important skills as part of your job is negotiating with your team, listening to their opinions, understand other peoples point of view, being assertive and knowing how to respond without losing your team’s trust.
Managing time is critical when you have to follow a project or more than one at the same time. Knowing how to organize your work and time is part of your job as a manager, but taking care also other people’s time and progress at work is a leader’s job!
Other skills that make you a leader
Besides these skills, there are others that more linked to your personality.
- Motivate people
- Being able to adapt
Leadership skills vary from technical skills to personal soft skills. It is up to you to understand which ones you need to improve the most for the results you expect to achieve.
Pilots go through intensive training and they almost build natural leadership skills. An important part of their job is to have the correct situational awareness and make continuous decisions to prevent any disaster from happening. They are always one step ahead of the airplane and plan their flight ahead of time, but still being prepared for any emergency.
I believe that leaders in aviation, even if not pilots, should have the same skills and improve their ability to bring people and aviation ahead of time to implement better systems for passenger safety and comfort.