One of my consistent gripes with the business aviation industry is the degree to which those who perform the line tasks are undervalued by those in leadership positions and treated less like people and more as tools or blunt objects. Now, I’m not going to embark on some sort of proletariat versus bourgeoisie rant here. I’ve held nearly every leadership position in flying organizations in the military and since my retirement in both 14 C.F.R Part 135 operations and now in a 14 C.F.R Part 91 corporate flight department – so I get the leadership perspective here. But one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my nearly 30 years of aviation leadership is the importance of people. The people who work with you and for you are everything. They are what makes the operation turn, they are what makes the operation better, they are what makes the operation a joy to be a part of. If you, as a leader, take care of them, they will take care of you. They’ll have your back.
But there are those to whom appearance is more important that doing the right thing; those who sacrifice their people on the altar of appearances. There is no quicker way for someone in a leadership position to inspire distrust and suspicion on the part of his or her subordinates than to prioritize his or her appearance above doing the right thing for his or her people. And here’s something those in leadership positions need to understand – actions speak louder than words. You can say all the things you want about how great you think your people are, but if you don’t fight for them and you treat them poorly, a time will come when you need them to have your back – and they won’t.
You’ll be all alone.
General Eisenhower had a quote from a long time ago that I’ve always liked. “Leadership,” he said, “is the art of getting someone to do something you want them to do because they want to do it.” Taking care of your people gets them to want to take care of you. Taking advantage of them to make yourself look better will eventually come back to haunt you. It’s just a question of time.Read More
I’ll beg forgiveness for my lack of updates over the last two weeks or so. Between being on the road taking our company execs to places they needed to go and trying to stay caught up on PhD coursework, time has been hard to come by. So what brings me to the keyboard tonight? I’m reading a book entitled The World Is Flatfor my current PhD course. It was written by Thomas L. Friedman, a New York Times Foreign Affairs columnist and, if you read the columns on his website, a man predisposed to a readily discernible political view of the world. Now Mr. Friedman’s book is a great discussion of both the mechanisms and the consequences of globalization and if he had managed to leave it there, it would have been an eminently readable work. But of course, he couldn’t. He couldn’t manage to discuss his subject without several mini-lectures about the effects of globalization in the context with his particular views. Like many in the media, from MSNBC to Fox News, he couldn’t tell the story without adding his spin to it. And that’s unfortunate because it makes all of us, who want to rely on the media for information, suspicious of the source. And we, the average people on the street, get left in the middle, wondering who to believe and often wondering where we can get the facts to formulate an educated opinion.
But what’s more disturbing is a definite trend by those with some media attention to feel obligated to inform us, the common masses, about what we should think or what we should feel, since obviously we’re too ignorant to make up our own minds. Name a celebrity and you can usually name their cause. Some of those causes are noteworthy and to be admired, but many of them, most of them in fact, have political ramifications. You’ll notice when these particular celebrities get the spotlight, they won’t hesitate to inform us about their opinion because they, purely by virtue of their current notoriety, believe they’re smarter than we are.
So here’s my pledge to you, my readers. I am not a celebrity – nowhere near it. But if lightning strikes and notoriety comes my way, you’re never going to hear me speak or preach politics. Admittedly, part of this decision is a result of pure greed – I want to sell books. And if I tick you off with my political views, you might not buy them. But the main reason I won’t burden you with my political opinions is because I learned an important lesson years ago when I was a young lieutenant in a fighter squadron. It’s a lesson that still holds true today:
- Opinions are like anal sphincters (you can insert the appropriate vulgar slang word here) – everybody has one and everyone else’s stinks.
- The corollary here is that no one else really gives a flying (insert appropriate vulgar noun here) what your opinion or my opinion is.
This would be a good lesson for both celebrities and those in the media, on both sides, to learn. Perhaps then they could just do their jobs and leave their opinions out of it.Read More
It wouldn’t seem right to let this date go by without some words of remembrance for those who perished and the families who now face a gaping hole where a loved one used to be. I cannot imagine the horror
of seeing a normal day at work turn into a living hell or thinking that a spouse or loved one is safe at their job or on a plane and suddenly having that person taken away forever. Then there are the heroic
sacrifices by the first responders, many of whom gave their lives so that others might live. Words can’t do justice to that kind of courage. Finally there are the many members of our armed forces who have sacrificed to take the fight to the enemy and bring down Osama Bin Laden and his radical organization. While I have had my disagreements with both the Bush and Obama administrations about the prosecution of these conflicts, the heroic sacrifices of our young men and women are to be admired. They are the best of what America is.
As a side note, to all the those who would cheapen those sacrifices by publicity espousing opinions about how the US somehow deserved the 9/11 attacks or believe the people who died somehow had it coming; shut the hell up. And to those who think that the 9/11 attacks were created as part of some sort of a governmental conspiracy, you’re embarrassing yourselves with this nonsense. You’re not “Truthers,” you’re Ravers. Get a grip. To members of both groups – if you really believe that either of these things are true – please – find another country to live in. The US will be better off without you.
Everyone thinks about what they were doing on 9/11 when the twin towers fell, the Pentagon was bombed and Flight 93 crashed. Ironically, on 9/11/2001, I was actually in the air. I was on terminal retirement
leave from the Air Force and flying a charter flight from Baltimore, MD to Knoxville, TN. I remember getting the radio call from Washington Center announcing that all airborne aircraft needed to land
immediately. Another aircraft asked what was going on and the controller said “someone flew an airplane into the World Trade Center.” We immediately relayed that to our passengers and the rest of the
flight passed in near silence. We were allowed to proceed to our flight planned destination and once we landed at Knoxville airport, we went into the FBO there and watched as the twin towers burned. Then, in
front of our eyes, on live TV, they collapsed. There were nearly 100 people watching the TV and you could have heard a pin drop in the room. The effect was devastating. My wife and I were living just outside
Annapolis, MD at the time and I called her to discuss it and found that she didn’t know anything about it – we had three kids in diapers at the time and Nickelodeon was on the TV. But she did say she had heard
something that got her attention – the roar of F-16’s above our house – a sound she knew well since we had lived near Luke AFB, AZ for four years. Those F-16’s were flying combat air patrol – over US territory.
Think about that for a second.
I was recalled to active duty for four months and was proud to serve through December 2001. I only wish I could have done more.
For all who have lost someone they know and love as a result of the September 11th attacks, I offer my deepest condolences and prayers.
For those who are gone – you are the best of who we are and your absence is felt even more keenly on the anniversary of this tragic day.Read More