In my latest book ‘Your navigator’ I share some of the experiences and adventures that forged my own understanding of what makes a difference in leadership – from the leadership qualities that matter through to the leadership principles that make a real difference to individual, team and organisational effectiveness. In a series of blogs over the next 8 weeks I’ll be sharing excerpts from each of the key chapters in ‘Your navigator’.
Week #5 – Capacity. This excerpt is about a leadership principle that in my view takes precedence – making capacity is the most important element of good leadership practise.
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On the Tucano Phase student navigators had to pass 22 sorties covering various navigation techniques and emergency procedures as well as developing airmanship. All of the training was focussed on what would come next, meaning that if we were successful – there was a significant failure rate – we would progress to more sophisticated aircraft. This was part of a three-year journey from joining the Royal Air Force to arriving on a front-line Squadron ready for operational duties. Throughout aircrew training we were exposed to increasing amounts of complexity and more systems to manage and understand. The training varied from aviation medicine and understanding the effects of hypoxia (oxygen starvation at altitude) – essential to allow us to wear the integrated Aircrew Equipment Assembly (AEA) and survival equipment when we strapped ourselves to an ejector seat – through to raw navigation practices of understanding navigation beacons, managing multiple radios and being proficient at mental dead reckoning (MDR) – the skill of computing speed, time and drift calculations quickly and accurately in the airborne environment. The technical training was also interspersed with survival training and leadership development.
The term that came up consistently and was always assessed on any sortie was ‘airmanship’. It was never really clear to me back then what this term precisely meant. I knew it had something to do with having a generally sound and holistic sense of what was going on at any time whilst airborne. Good airmanship meant that I knew what was going on in myself, in the cockpit, in the aircraft and in the ‘bigger picture’ around me – and thus I could anticipate what was going to happen next. I could make sense of the situation. Poor airmanship meant that I was ‘behind’ the aircraft, reacting to circumstances and certainly in no position to control outcomes – a dangerous state to be in and one where it was a struggle to make sense of a situation. In these situations I would be prone to behaving in a reactive way rather than a proactive way. Distraction and anxiety, mental or physical – the airborne environment in a military aircraft can be physiologically stressful – would narrow my attention span and cause me to focus on the wrong thing at the wrong time. I realised it was in these instances that what I was deficient in, what I was lacking – was capacity.
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If you or your organisation is in need of a navigator to develop brilliant leaders and leadership then please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
To understand more about capacity and how to create it join us for a leadership journey on the Navigator Programme 2019 Open Programme (Summer) places available:
London Programme: 3rd & 4th Jun | 19th Jul | 21st & 22nd Aug | 23rd Sep
North-West Programme: 21st & 22nd May | 25th Jun | 15th & 16th Jul | 19th Aug
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‘Your navigator’ book is available from Amazon: