Some say great leaders are born. We say great leaders are made.
There are many different types of leaders and leadership styles. While it’s important to find your own style, there are many qualities of leaders throughout history that have stood the test of time.
While we will view some of these qualities through the lens of the aviation industry, all are applicable for aspiring leaders in any field.
- Empathy — Understanding people within their individual frame of reference is a rare soft skill that many leaders fail to grasp. People want to be seen, heard and understood. From the way you market your business to your customer service and the way you treat your employees, empathy helps leaders understand the roots behind why people do what they do. By deeply understanding “the why” of your employees and customers on a personal level, you build trust and belonging, thus creating lasting and meaningful relationships.
- Service — Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Everyone can be great… because anyone can serve.” Along with empathy, what makes the difference in a business is focusing on serving people first. The worlds of aviation and hospitality particularly find themselves connecting with people from a variety of industries and backgrounds from all walks of life. Approach these relationships by educating yourself on people’s intrinsic needs and serving based on how these needs tie back to your offering. This leads us to…
- Learner’s Mindset — The diversity of knowledge needed to lead an aviation company is immense, as is the knowledge required to lead any business. Ongoing education and a passion for learning are vital to understanding your customers’ most pertinent and nuanced needs. By collaborating, listening, asking questions and being open to new ideas, leaders can create unforgettable experiences and outside of the box solutions. A good leader will then distill this knowledge down to other internal managers and employees. It all starts from the top.
- Embrace Change — Change is inevitable in all things. It often presents itself unexpectedly and leaves leaders caught off guard. The trick is to master change rather than let change master you. A 2016 study found that one of the things that challenged leaders most was managing change & innovation. This is what makes embracing change one of the most important leadership skills that one can master. Effective leaders have the strategic acumen to respond to change, or they possess enough self-awareness to collaborate with other leaders to determine a solution and actions to move forward.
- Vision — They say that without vision, the people will perish. In many regards, this speaks directly to business. When leadership lacks vision, employees and customers alike lack the passion and loyalty to commit long term — to a product, a service, a person or a brand. One way to establish this vision is to create a mission statement with the backing of key company stakeholders. Publicly share your mission and use it internally to instill comradery, focus and a passion for moving the business forward each day.