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A Lot Has Changed, But Have Our Leaders?

The pandemic has not just changed the world but also changed the DNA of our aviation ecosystem, accelerating the need for digital transformation across all industries but triggering simultaneously some of the biggest financial, operational and personal development and wellbeing challenges in history. Our aviation leaders must learn to adjust advance and achieve through these changes, whilst keeping their performance sharp, to lead aviation stakeholders towards a streamlined recovery. If this economic downturn experience taught us anything, is leadership matters and for many airlines facing decidedly fragile futures, it may matter now more than ever as the world tries to emerge from forced hibernation, and to rebuild a broken economy, the industry requires their leaders to be operating at peak performance, demonstrating successful leadership behaviours and role modelling an athlete’s mindset.

Throughout this shift, all aviation stakeholders will be required to draw on distinct leadership qualities and traits from their senior leadership team, to restore and revive a stretched and distressed organisational culture, where aviation professionals such as pilots, engineers and staff are re-engaged to activate their passion, enthusiasm and optimism, along with their commitment to the aviation sector, where the focus on proactivity, productivity, adaptability, and safety is paramount.

Top 5 Leadership Traits

#1 Candour

A definition of candour is honesty without ambiguity. While honesty has always been an important leadership trait, now it is required to have another level of honesty – candour. Arguably, candour is the best antidote for a workplace climate of anxiety and cynicism. People respond so much better to the known, than the unknown, the more you can communicate and be transparent the better (even if the news isn’t great).

#2 Consistent Reliable Fact-Based Communications

The goal for leaders – having consistent, reliable fact-based communications will be a key ingredient for bringing aviation stakeholders together and reducing workplace anxiety

#3 Empathy

Leaders are required to wear many hats, and as aviation staff return to the workplace, leaders will be required to be a leader as coach and a leader as counsellor more than ever before. Skilfully balancing the needs of their people with the needs of the business, to truly engage and build long term peak performance. Indeed, this event has touched so many in such profound ways that many aviation professionals will be essentially working while grieving. Leaders (at all levels of the hierarchical aviation industry), will need to develop their emotional intelligence, so they have an acute awareness of when a particular team member needs support, either through listening and supporting, or when more expert and professional help is needed such as a referral for counselling. They’ll also need to tap into a keen level of sensitivity, when it comes to addressing out of date, policies and processes, that may no longer be fit for purpose in the new world (e.g. sick leave, time off, telecommuting, etc.) Leaders require empathy, more than ever before. Being able to read situations in the moment, so they can respond effectively, and sensitively, will only have positive outcomes for the business.

#4 Managing Hybrid Teams

One of the few bright spots of this unintended remote working experiment is that for many airlines, they’ve learned that they can reduce costs and create efficiencies by developing and supporting a more extensive virtual working infrastructure. Furthermore, as many workers have now grown accustomed to eliminating their commute or spending additional quality time with family, teleworking expectations will likely increase. Managing hybrid, non-co-located teams doesn’t just require changes in facilities, but also a shift in mindset and even day to day operations. Project Management Institute President and CEO Sunil Prashara warns that virtual/hybrid teams require a different style of leadership. “If you just sit back and don’t bring your virtual teams together regularly, work streams will fall apart,” warns Prashara.

#5 Flexibility and Adaptability

Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, aviation leaders will need to avoid the temptation to “stick with a decision” to appear decisive and instead be willing to regularly review new data, information and feedback and change course if necessary. While airlines may resume operations based on a logical, clearly thought through plan and governmental policies. For these aviation leaders any delay in changing course can have drastic consequences for the viability of their operations.

To achieve this, aviation leaders recognise that investing in leadership development will ensure the right behaviours are role modelled and all inhouse staff are consistently challenged, supported, and developed. Realising the potential of your people - through transformational leadership is seen as the springboard for continued recovery, change and growth in our industry.

Our AAA Programme has been designed specifically for aspiring, developing and experienced leaders, facing into an ever changing, increasingly challenging and growth focused business world.

We deliver our programmes using a flexible blended approach, with self-led, 121 coaching and group session options, providing a more modern, optimum development experience, creating powerful business results. The programme provides a series of targeted outcomes, achieved through a set of prescribed group sessions, self-led modules & exercises that takes leaders on a transformational journey to purposeful leadership.

We welcome you to register for the AAA Leadership free taster Programme launching 15th November 2021.


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