More Leadership Wisdom From Captain Chesley Sullenberger

Wed, Feb 18, 2009

Captain Chesley Sullenberger III continues to teach us all the  lessons of true leadership. Today's San Francisco Chronicle features a letter from Captain Sullenberger. He  writes that he learned early on that anyone who takes a leadership role is responsible for the welfare of those he commands. He goes on to say "During every minute of our flight, I was confident I could solve the next problem. My first officer, Jeff SKiles, and I did what airline pilots do: We following our training and our philosophy of life. We valued every life on that airplane and knew it was our responsibility to try to save each one, in spite of the sudden and complete failure of our aircraft."There is so much richness in this statement, and much applicability to our business leaders. As a leader, Sullenberger was confident because he had a roadmap and values that guided his decision making process. He could have blamed his plane and given up. He did not.

Like Sullenberger's terrifying few minutes from takeoff to safe landing, we are living through a period when it seems that we have had a nearly sudden and nearly complete failure of our financial systems. There are livelihoods and futures at stake, both within companies and in communities. Sullenberger relied on his rock solid commitment to his passengers to ensure that failure was not an action.

In my experience as both a leader and coach to leaders, I have found that success comes to those who are self-aware and always striving to be better. I once worked will a colleague who said, "I haven't had my best day yet." Based on what I have read about Captain Sullenberger, he spent many sleepless nights wondering what he could have done even better. And I have worked with masterful leaders who knew that they were not as skilled at engaging employees, so they surrounded themselves with others who had that talent.

Sullenberger also clearly possessed impeccable values. He let those values guide him.

How solid are your leadership values? Are you certain about what you will do for your employees and shareholders, no matter what? What aspect of your leadership play book is rusty or missing?

For a complimentary consultation to assess your leadership capacity, please contact

Marcia Ruben Ph.D, PCC, CMC

Marcia Ruben Ph.D, PCC, CMC

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