Leadership, Learning and Longevity. Just part of the story.
In leadership, as in life, we never stop learning.
As discussed in my previous post, “In Leadership. Good Co-Pilots Make Great Captains”, we examined how developing leadership skills is a process that takes place over time.
I recently sat down to update the entries in my tenth Pilot’s Log Book. A long-hand record of every flight and every hour that I’ve spent in the air. Significantly, I noted that I’d passed a major milestone of 20,000 flight hours.
Casting my mind back to those first days of flying, I could recall both the absolute awe in which I held the sky, my first lessons in discipline and leadership – and also my thirst for knowledge. And the truth is that despite decades of experience, I am still learning, still questioning, still reviewing how things can be done better. Still making mistakes.
20,000 hours is not a mantle to lean on, it is purely evidence that I have had more opportunities to learn from my mistakes and, hopefully, improve. It is the same in the world of leadership, management, decision-making, or any challenge that we undertake as individuals. Our successes should be celebrated but they don’t necessarily encourage change or growth in the way our failings do. As a leader, a teacher, a parent – a human being, we should always ask, “Could I be doing it better?”
Longevity in any field offers a degree of credibility in many cases but we all know those whose performance is not in keeping with their experience. That can only come with ongoing self-improvement. Too often people can “taper” in their personal expertise, trusting their reputation to continue carrying them forward. However, we can’t drive a car looking in the rearview mirror, we must keep treating the present with respect as we look to the future.
There’s an old saying in aviation, “When you think that you know it all, you’re dangerous”. I think that we have all encountered “dangerous” leaders.