The number one trait any leader must possess in order to be successful
Well….as you may have read, I had an interview, today. I don’t want to give away too many clues to the questions, as it wasn’t acknowledged that I can’t discuss the answers or questions with my peers, but since this is a pertinent issue for me, I wanted to clarify one of the answers here, as if the powers that confirm or deny me actually read this…
The issue at hand, here, is, to put a Jeopardy spin on it, what is the root requirement of a pertinent leader?
My answer is, simply put, the ability to use the resources given to you at any given time so that you may get the job done. Take into account, Captain Al Haynes, the pilot who was able to use every resource he had available to him to successfully bring a doomed-from-the-get-go DC-10 to an adequate runway and save half of his passengers and most all of the crew. Had he taken it upon himself to do only what he knew, the plane would have never made it. He beseeched an instructor, who was flying on the plane as a passenger that day, who knew a lot more about the dynamics of the plane than he, to come up with ways to maintain the plane’s altitude / stability using only throttles, as the stabilizers themselves were literally nonexistent. He let the first officer take care of the controls while maintaining a constant shift between gas and brake, gas and brake. And equally effective, he used his own wits and humor to maintain a semi-calm atmosphere in the cockpit:
Captain Fitch: I'll tell you what. We'll have a beer
when this is all done.
Captain Haynes: Well, I don't drink, but I'll sure as
hell have one.
And on the approach:
Sioux City Approach: United two thirty-two heavy, the wind's
currently at three six zero at one one three
sixty at eleven. You're cleared to land on
Captain Haynes: [Laughter] Roger. [Laughter] You want to be
particular and make it a runway, huh?
This is a perfect example of how a leader can maximize resources and keep control of the situation. Humor is a key element in any stressful situation. But as I said before, resource management is the key quality of a good leader.
Capt. Haynes utilized to the fullest extent an element in pilot training called Cockpit Resource Management, which debunks the idea that what the Captain says is Law. CRM was introduced as Command Leadership Resource Management by UAL in 1980. I believe this can be reworded to fit any workplace and would be an invaluable resource in itself to both the staff and leadership of an organization, regardless the level.
…Into the Weeds wrote an article about Capt. Haynes and the notorious flight 232, of which I gleened the quotes above. You can read the article here. Read Capt. Haynes’ article about the flight and five things that happened that he believes salvaged a doomed flight here (warning, pop-ups)…
Another example of resource management is one I take from my own history. I played goalie for a good six years, and three years into my “career,” I was noticing how well other goalies were playing, and while I was doing well, I was still lacking. I couldn’t figure the areas of my fallacies, myself, so I called upon a handful of our veteran players, one of which was a former high school ice hockey coach in Massachusetts. Mind you, this is travel team inline hockey I was playing. Not top-tier, or anything, but we were good enough to travel to some nearby cities and smoke some opponents. The goalie, by default responsibility, has to be some kind of leader, even if she’s the only girl on the team (sometimes the whole league). But if I wasn’t stellar, it wore off on a lot of the teammates — even if we won. So I called upon the vets to tell me what I was doing wrong, and possibly help me see the puck better. What a treat it was to have someone tell me “hey, that’s one thing we can work on.” A quote I’ve posted on here before is “the ability to not know is an essential quality in learning anything.” I live by that philosophy. If you walk into a room acting like you already know the course data, you’ll have wasted time by the time the course is over. It certainly helps to have an interest in the material being studied, but again, if you act like you know it all, you’ll walk away with nothing.
By the end of that hockey year, I was stopping trash-goal attempts by preventing the trash puck from ever appearing; that is, I had learned to properly deflect the puck to the corner. At first, I thought I’d never be able to grasp such a complex act of making my stocky body move as fast as my mind thought for it to. I can think fast, but my feet often cannot keep up. And, up to that time, 90% of the goals I’d let in were trash pucks. Trash pucks are the rebounds that bounce off of me (the goalie) and protrude forward into the slot, where hungry offenders can smack at it again and again while I’m vulnerable and struggling to regroup.
Learning to prevent such attempts was the most valuable lesson I’d learned from my teammates, where I’d never originally expected the knowledge to come from, as they were skating players (i.e. forwards and defensemen). I had to take it upon myself, however, to gain the stamina I needed to match the requirements of the lessons I was given, most of which also required a significant amount of ice time (sic) after team practice sessions. I slaved myself hard and followed a strict diet of chicken, broccoli, spinach, brown rice, and steel-cut oats , along with a keenly-followed supplement program that assisted me in achieving the greatness I was destined to achieve if I were to listen to my new trainers and take away new skills.
These are but two examples. I could come up with dozens of others. It’s all about using the resources around you that make you a good leader.