You may recall that last week I wrote about the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ event that was such a great example of crisis reaction and leadership.
One of the amazing people I work with responded with such a thoughtful and complete viewpoint, that, with his permission, I am going to share his comments verbatim today.
“Another side point about this story is the team the Captain had on board knew their jobs and functions they were in charged of during the emergency. The Captain was not checking with them, was not micro managing them to see if they were doing their job. He was counting on them doing their job. Had they not, the outcome would have been a lot different. The team by doing their job allowed the Captain to focus strictly on doing his without breaking his train of thought while he was going through the variables he had to deal with on landing the airplane, engines or no engines.
Leaders need to know when to take control and then rely on those individuals they are surrounded by to help them through a crisis. During the crisis is not time to try and second guess or step in and try to micromanage the individuals. That is not leadership. Those leaders that find themselves doing so have a larger problem. It’s a problem that cannot be fixed during a crisis, self-made or otherwise.
Observational through my carrier I have seen and coached a lot of individuals that are caught in the middle. They are in management positions, but can’t leave the technical aspects behind. The first sign of perceived difficulty they jump in and “fix” the problem themselves and hope the individual would catch on. As you know that sets up two problems for the individual. First, they did not get any instruction as to how to solve the problem. Second, the manager was not able to assess whether the individual had or has the capability to process the problem and develop and implement a solution.
Strategic/System leadership is very different than process/task problem solving. One deal with many parts mixed with unknown variables driving toward an end result, while the other deals with one or two parts with specifics. Part of the leaders job is to keep his team focused on their jobs and let them do it while he or she stays focused on his or hers. I suspect the Captain knew if the engines did not come on line within a minute after he took control, he was going to land that plane on the water. He knew the engines did not have time to come on line and ramp up to thrust given the glide path he was on. The glide path for that plane is very short compared to the gliders he flew back in the day.
How much glide path are the leaders preparing their teams for? If leaders stand in the way, their team fails. If they stand on the side and coach that path becomes longer and with additional training allows the team to perform the landings (planned and unplanned) with some level of predictability and dependability. Leaders need that dependability from their team as it is a gauge of how well they are leading themselves”.
That last line is a powerful summation of some excellent thinking!