“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” – one of my favorite Chinese proverbs and very fitting to begin talking to you about my thoughts on leadership.
While it may be easy to look up the definition of the word leadership in a dictionary, that effort only provides a cold and emotionless generality of the concept. If we were to ask a hundred NATCA members the definition of leadership, we might get a hundred different answers. That is because those descriptions would be defined by the personal views of leadership and how it affects each one of our lives. What differences leaders have made, how they have impacted our lives (both positively and negatively) and whether or not we were well served by those to which we entrusted our future.
In order for you to decide whether to again place your trust in me as your leader and re-elect me as your NATCA Western Pacific Regional Vice President, I would like to share with you my own definition of what it takes to be a leader and to provide leadership.
Leadership is present in all facets of our lives whether it is being a team captain of the high school soccer team, a squad leader in the United States Marine Corps, a NATCA facility representative, or a parent. While there may be minor differences in what makes each of these leaders great, there are effective and common traits that they all share. An effective leader is one who makes no excuses for a failure and learns from their mistakes. They are in a constant state of learning and do not pretend to know it all. They are not happy with the status quo when looking to the future. They are always looking for ways to improve, no matter how small those improvements may be. They do not take credit for the work of others or allow their pride to stop them from drawing upon the talent of others for the benefit of the overall organization and its membership.
Dedication and purpose is what truly separates us from the Federal Aviation Administrations’ managers and policies. And it is also why we are much more effective leaders than they will ever be. We do this job because we are dedicated and passionate about our professions and our organization as a whole. We take tremendous pride in providing the safest, most efficient, and professional Air Traffic Control service to those who place their sacred trust in us. Those of us who choose to represent our members choose to do so in an attempt to provide the best possible representation to our membership while maintaining “Safety Above All”. We use trust, honor, and integrity as cornerstones of how we represent our members and our profession and how we approach problem solving. You will never be disappointed or have to second-guess yourself if you are able to apply these values, Trust-Honor-Integrity, to your decisions.
An effective leader constantly seeks self-improvement. And while a leader seeks self improvement they cannot lose sight of the fact that they must continue to educate, engage, empower, inspire, motivate, and support their members attempts to seek further self improvement.
A leader is one who is not afraid at standing up for what they believe in. A leader has the courage to always speak the truth. A leader will not only support and motivate, but also have the integrity to point out mistakes. A leader will lead from the front but will not forget or lose touch with those they are leading.
Finally, an effective leader is one that has the vision, tenacity, courage, dedication and purpose, the desire for self-improvement for themselves and fellow members, and the ability to motivate and empower others to do the same.
While a leader may have some or all of the traits mentioned above if they do not have a vision and plan for their organization then their chances for success are dramatically reduced and it is highly probable that the organization will eventually falter and stagnate. It is imperative to have a clear vision and a plan with clearly defined goals and expectations to ensure the growth and success of the organization.
I believe that my team and I continue to have what is needed to meet the challenges, tough decisions and difficult circumstances that we are sure to face in the coming months and years. I believe that what makes me an effective leader is my proven ability to deal with these situations with courage and tenacity while at the same time maintaining Trust, Honor, and Integrity.