Leadership: A Subtle but Critical Insight About Situational Awareness in An Unpredictable Situation

As you lead your team in an Unpredictable, Rapidly Changing and Unstable scenario or environment, there is a critical insight that you and your team need to keep in mind as you process Decision Making at the point of attack. It is critical for you and your team to understand.

First, let me illustrate by giving a couple of illustrations from my aviation background.


When I was flying Learjets for a DOD (Department of Defense) Contractor named Flight International and when we were taking off from Patrick Henry Airport which was very close to Norfolk Airport, it could be challenging when taking off towards Norfolk for a key reason. In the airspace at the time, you could not enter the Class airspace overhead & around Norfolk which started about 1400 feet above the ground but also, underneath the airspace, you could not exceed about 200 knots. Well in taking off towards Norfolk and in a Learjet, its performance was such that right after the landing gear was retracted, you pretty much had to pull the throttles all the way to idle and push the nose over to not enter the Norfolk airspace and also not to exceed the airspace speed limit. It was very possible to over push the nose or perhaps have the jet slow to a problematic speed.


For my PhD research, I also interview several aviator professionals and they answer questions I provide. One highly experienced pilot I interviewed a week ago, pointed out a similar situation in which a pilot with whom he was flying was in a similar situation on takeoff and departure and the pilot grossly overdid it and it was borderline dangerous.


So how does this relate?

When you are leading your team in an Unpredictable & very Challenging situation, the leader and your team must process and make right decisions AT THE POINT OF ATTACK in the situation. There are a couple of challenges in this that I included in the Podcast Business News Network radio show. These do not let you get to a solution but let me list a couple:


1. One reaction to a stressful time is to just quiet and sit down until the challenge goes away.

2. Many who do not understand will just orient the situation to some comfortable and academic scenario which is likely to not be true in this situation.


3. Many people will also try to generate emotions because if other people are weakened by emotions, they can be controlled and they lose their ability to process and see the reality in the wrong approach that was applied by the team and led by the leader.


These are 3 but let me offer another that is more insidious.

The Insidious but Critical Challenge:


Many times, the challenging situation makes us just want to avoid that and in doing so…. we go all the way across the spectrum and perhaps cross the line on the limitation on the other side of possibilities. This was the challenging situation that the pilot referred to me in our phone interview about the situation he was pointing out.


So let me ask you a couple of questions:


1. On what basis do you say your choice is the right and best solution for the timely challenge?


2. How clearly do you really see it when your decision actually crosses the line on the other side of the spectrum of choices?


3. What must you and your team improve to really enhance the clarity and your ability to make the right choices without crossing another line?



- Randy Swaim, Coaching for Relevance, LLC