CRJ200 Airline Pilot

The personal experiences, thoughts of an CRJ captain

Leadership and Communication — Eh?

Posted by Jeffrey on August 25, 2008

As an airline captain, I’m continuously challenged as a leader. Every week we have a different crew and different circumstances. One week we may be flying in the LAX system and the next week we are in the ORD system. Very rarely, due to the manner of our monthly bidding system, do we fly with the same crew. So weekly, even sometimes daily, you have to adjust to the changing circumstances and maintain your leadership role.

So how do you do that? The answer: Communication.

It always starts with the briefing before your first flight with the new crew or when a new crew member comes on board. Now you don’t have to be overbearing, that sets a negative tone, but you do have to be willing to show that you are the one that will take responsibility for the flight and hence are responsible for the airplane, passengers, and crew.

A few tips that help me include:

  • Establish an environment for open/interactive communications
  • Solicit and respect all questions and comments and feedback without prejudice, meaning, don’t be too quick to judge the question without listening to it first. By respecting your crew members and listening to their questions and comments assures them that they are part of the team.
  • Answer questions directly and with respect
  • Communicate with everyone on your team
  • Recognize and accept that everyone is different which means that everyone works from a different reality. Be willing to put yourself in their reality when talking to them.

For a lot of people, and captains, these few steps can be difficult to master. After all, it is a challenge to just become someone else, therefore, if you look at it as a continuing process and try to improve your communication skills regularly, you will find that your crews are more responsive to you and perform better because of it. A great book I discovered is How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It is one of THE most respected and duplicated books on communication on the market. Pick it up today and you will notice an immediate and profound difference how you interact and communicate with people.

Till next time…

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