Leading with Attitude

Leading AttitudeThe attitude of an aircraft – its orientation relative to the earth – affects everything in flying. Roll slightly and the aircraft will turn and change course. Inch the nose up and the aircraft will slow down and start climbing. Allow the nose to drop and it’ll speed up and lose altitude. For a pilot, maintaining the proper attitude is critical to maintaining control of the aircraft.

Maintaining a proper attitude is just as important for leaders. If I allow fear or worry to adversely effect my attitude – even slightly – I’ll veer off course. A touch of pessimism could cause the team to slow down and waste energy. Likewise, over-confidence might cause us to gain too much speed and lose perspective. So how do you maintain a proper attitude?

Pilots have a nifty gauge called an attitude indicator to help them stay on top of the aircraft’s attitude. It’s quite handy – and essential when flying in the clouds or over the ocean at night. Before a flight, pilots always “cage” their attitude indicators – a process that ensures the instrument starts off aligned with the earth’s actual horizon. This process of caging can also be applied in flight to reset the device if it starts to “tumble” due to severe aerobatic maneuvers.

I try to “cage” my attitude first thing every morning to make sure it’s aligned with the truth. If I don’t, I’m tossed about by whims and circumstances all day. When I’m successful, it’s much easier to navigate the day’s decisions. If, during the day, I sense my attitude start to tumble, I take a quick time-out to “level my wings” and make sure I’m aligned with what’s true.

How do you maintain a proper attitude for yourself and your team?

6 thoughts on “Leading with Attitude”

  1. This is a great post. All too often we forget about attitude and how it affects our ability to influence others in the way we desire. A former co-worker of mine used to tell me that when someone asked her how she was doing, she always answered “Great!” Another co-worker I have now answers “excellent to outstanding!”. When you work with people that are having a great day, it buoys you up. When you are having an attitudinal issue, you are not having a great day, and you negatively influence those around you, maybe to the point of them not wanting to follow you or work with you anymore.

  2. Right on, Ben. I think attitudes – like emotions – are contagious. Even more so coming from a leader.

    I love “excellent to outstanding.” Hope your day is falling in that range!

  3. Being one of your company pilots in the past, this analogy really hit home with me. One of the first things I do in the morning after waking up is to be aware of and control my thoughts, and attitude because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. This analogy just reinforces the point even more.

  4. Geoff,

    This is so on the money. I use a few ways to CAGE my Attitude:

    Start the Day counting my blessings – My first blessing is I am alive to count it.

    Ask God to put people in my day that I can serve and bless, with the gifts that he has given me.

    Review my success and my failures. My greatest successes usually follow me falling hard on my face. So in most cases making an error is not unrecoverable.

    Keep Good company. Our friends make us stronger, with their support and encouragement.

    Read a bit of a good book every day.

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