Safety needs to be a value, not just a priority. If it’s just a priority, it might slip down the list if something else becomes more of a priority, such as getting the job done, making a profit, or staying in business. That’s why it needs to be an intrinsic part of ‘how we function’ every day in aviation.

You don’t have to be a senior manager or CEO to be a leader. In aviation, safety leadership is needed in every area of the industry. Whether you’re the captain of a Boeing 777, an air traffic controller, a flying instructor, an engineer, an aviation security officer, cabin crew or a manager, developing your skills in leadership will enhance safety for everyone.

Leadership is both a science and an art, and you’ll find plenty of self-help books telling you about the qualities of being a good leader. But leaders are human, and this means every leader is a complex combination of motivations, strengths, weaknesses, personality, experiences, knowledge and skills.

Becoming a truly effective leader requires flexibility, intuition, and emotional intelligence. These are skills that can be taught, and the most effective thing we can all do to develop our leadership skills is study and practise the art of leadership.

Leadership requires you to:

  • Know yourself and seek improvement
  • Be technically proficient
  • Know your team members and look out for their welfare
  • Keep your team members informed
  • Set an example
  • Make sure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished
  • Train as a team
  • Make sound and timely decisions
  • Develop a sense of responsibility among your team members
  • Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions
  • Be fair and consistent.

The highest standards you can expect from others are the lowest you demonstrate yourself.

Watch the videos below for two short podcast excerpts by Todd Conklin, author of Pre-Accident Investigations, to learn more about leadership.