Lesson #20: Leadership Lessons from the Cockpit
It was spring break, 1980, one year after I earned my private pilots license. I drove to Ft Lauderdale with three friends from college to have some fun! Shortly after arriving, one friend came up with a great idea: Since I was now officially a private pilot, how about I fly everyone to Freeport Bahamas in a rented Cessna 172 to do some gambling? Done!
We had four big guys, baggage and fuel and we were overweight! But being young, stupid and invincible, I ignored this crucial fact. Soon, we were rolling down the runway but it felt like an eternity until we picked up enough speed to lift off. At one point during the takeoff roll I thought to myself: “we’re not going to make it!”
Fortunately we did, eventually lifting from the ground and reaching a safe altitude with smooth flying from there. But we could have run out of runway! Then what?
Does your company have enough power to stay on course?
A strong vision needs a powerful organizational structure to support it. Your Accountability Chart is the engine behind your business. Does it provide the right horsepower? Just as the aircraft needs the right power to weight ratio, so does your organization.
Here are some symptoms of an underpowered organization:
Company structure does not support the Vision
Lack of clarity around roles/responsibility – “are we really cleared for takeoff?”
Leaders/Managers not delegating – the captain is trying to do it all!
Right people in the wrong seats – not enough horsepower
Wrong people in the wrong seats – tainted fuel in the fuel tanks
Designing your company structure to support your vision is just as important as engineering an aircraft that will fly when fully loaded. In both cases you’ll need enough horsepower, or you risk falling short of your destination.
P.S. – Back in the Bahamas, I won just enough money at blackjack to pay for my portion of the airplane rental!
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