I recently shared my observations of certain passengers while on a flight home from Spring break.
While on this flight, there was another opportunity to observe leadership in action. I would be remiss if I failed to share with you the leadership skills demonstrated by another leader on this flight. The Pilot
Those of you familiar with air travel are accustomed to the perfunctory pre-flight commentary offered by the cabin crew. Included in this are the usual details offered by the pilot. We’ll be cruising at 30,000 feet. Our flight time, from gate to gate is 2 hours and 18 minutes, etc. Rarely do I pay much attention to this. However, when the pilot began the litany, I noticed the first comments were to thank us. That was a nice touch.
Shortly after take-off, the pilot announced that we might encounter some turbulence. For about the first hour, the flight was uneventful. The beverage cart slowly made its way up the aisle as I noshed on a palm-sized bag of pretzels. And then, we dipped and bounced a little. The familiar ‘bing’ was heard overhead, indicating that the pilot was communicating with the crew.
The pilot announced over the p.a. system that we were encountering the turbulence. He instructed the flight attendants to take their seats. He further informed us that they would attempt to find smoother air.
For the next 20 minutes or so, we shimmied and dipped. Then the bumps stopped. The pilot, true to his word, found smoother air for us. He then communicated with us that while we were out of the turbulence and the flight attendants would resume beverage service.
The remainder of the flight was unremarkable. Thankfully.
The pilot had done a wonderful job flying the plane; we landed as expected, wheels first. He also displayed a few critical leadership skills in the process.
He communicated with us. He provided honest and accurate information; using easy to understand language, no jargon. The pilot managed our expectations and advised us of anticipated turbulence. When the turbulence hit, he calmly provided instructions to keep us safe while addressing the swirling currents of air. The pilot shared with us his plan to solve the problem and followed up by notifying us when he believed we had navigated through the difficulties.
At this point, you might be thinking; “I never really thought about my flights this way, but is this really article worthy?”
While this analysis is interesting to note, it was the pilot’s next actions which inspired the article. It was what he did on the ground.
As we deplaned, our pilot who calmly guided us to smoother air, stood on the jetway waiting for us. He spoke to the passengers. He apologized to each of us for turbulence. He thanked us for flying with them and let us know that he hoped we would choose the Friendly Skies for our next flight.
Isn’t this remarkable?! Not only did he display Battlefield Cool, as he maintained control of the bouncing plane, he exemplified high caliber leadership on the ground, too.
After landing, pilots will often remain in the cockpit, hidden from the view of passengers. Not this guy. He faced each of us. Any of you who work with the public, know the unhappy customer wants to speak with the manager! By making himself available, he provided any dissatisfied passengers the opportunity to share their displeasure. This action may have created satisfied customers as well as diffusing any complaints going further up the chain.
He apologized for a situation that he did not create. Turbulence. He did not attempt to make excuses for the weather or blame air traffic control. He took responsibility. His plane. Period.
Then he expressed appreciation for our business. The pilot realizes that customer service is not some task to be only be performed by other members of his team. By personally thanking us, he role modeled excellent customer service.
Finally, he made a gesture for his team and the organization. He asked us for our future business.
Throughout this flight, our pilot put people first. Whether be it the passengers or flight crew or the main office, his leadership actions demonstrated dedication to the customer, to his team and to his organization. What a great example of proactive effective leadership in action!