Is Leadership the same as Air Traffic Control?

Whilst stuck in a major traffic jam on the A4 heading into London early this morning two thoughts occurred to me….

….if this is one of London’s “major arterial” routes, then how could we perform an angioplasty and then stent it so I can get to my meeting on time!?

…and then as I watched planes go closely overhead with regular precision towards Heathrow (one every 2 minutes) I couldn’t help but wonder how much calmer business would be if we could line up and then “land” our projects and major tasks with such regularity?

The thing is most leaders I meet have so much to do that they are simply overwhelmed by the volume of both current activity and the demands coming from above.  What swiftly happens is they and their teams set about trying to tick off all of the activities on their (ever growing) lists with little time available to think about priorities and certainly not team capacity.  The result of this frenzy is often stress, disappointment, disengagement and loss of people through illness or attrition!  It’s easy to see how this can escalate further into the tradition vicious circle, which is no good for anyone.

To avoid this state of affairs, the best solution is to consider early on what is it you are trying to achieve, what is your vision for your team, your brand(s) and your year?  Are you REALLY clear with this and able to articulate it concisely (to yourself and others)?  Once you understand this “what” element then you should consider WHY this is so important to me? WHY is it important to my team and my (wider) business?  It is only when we consider both the what and the why elements together that we are able to calmly define which elements on our task list..

  • Should be done Vs not done

  • Should come first Vs middle or last

  • Should have most people focusing on them

  • Should have most revenue spent on them

This calm leadership then allows us to “manage the team to manage the task” and in doing so ensure a smooth landing of each key element, one after another.

…and the spin off?  The team are calm and happy and do a better job.  The business sees you and your team delivering quality outputs on regular occasion.  Frequent recognition and good news being spread about the team creates a virtuous circle; all your team even more motivated, and everyone else in the organisation wants to join your team.

Happy Days!

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