Pilot Leadership's Colleen Hensley

Pilot Leadership - The Mission Pilot Leadership's Bill Hensley

Applying the principles of flying
supersonic jets to business and life.™

Bill Hensley

Bill Hensley

Bill is the co-founder of Pilot Leadership, an organization that addresses all aspects of both personal and business leadership. He flew supersonic jets in the military and  commercial airliners in the civilian world. After leaving the cockpit, he bacame an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He is the author of The Pilot--Learning Leadership, and Success Simplified (with Dr. Stephen Covey).

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Do you ever wonder about the impact you have on this world? Well, if you are reading this leadership blog, it's clear that you DO want to have a significant positive impact on this world, but it's easier said than done.  However, no matter what you choose to spend most of your time doing, it all comes down to the relationships you have. And leadership, doesn't just count in what you do at work. It counts in every aspect of your life.

Becoming a leader in your personal and work life doesn't not come overnight, rather it is a long process that evolves both from your preparation, your experiences, and what you CHOOSE to learn from them. One of the most well-received concepts in our book The Pilot--Learning Leadership is called a Pivotal Leadership Event (PLE). For the purposes of this brief article, a PLE is an event that "pivots" you in a more positive direction after you experience it. The point is that you will be best prepared to learn from your PLE if you understand the concept and are "on the lookout" for them when they occur. If you don't recognize them, you can easily miss an amazing opportunity to improve both your personal and professional life.

More to come. . .


We are continually overwhelmed by all of the positive feedback we continually receive on the PEER Performance Model of learning that appears in one of our books titled The Pilot---Learning Leadership.  It is a model of learning that allows anyone to use the very techniques that supersonic jet pilots use to achieve success on every flight. It has been proven through the years that these exact techniques can  be used by non-pilots in their business and personal life.  I'd like to take a moment to write an overview of the model. Note that some terms are intentionally capitalized. Capitalized terms are addressed in detail in our writings and in our presentations.


The model begins with step one which is Prepare. Techniques pilots use include Total Immersion (which consists of Chair Flying and ATP--Available Time Potential).  In a pilot's world, the phrase "over-preparation" does not exist, nor should it for you. Preparation is followed by a type of Practice that we call Smart Practice, which enables you to perform tasks to the point that they become second nature. The goal is to maintain Situational Awareness and to avoid Task Saturation. A technique you can  use to avoid Task Saturation is Equitable Time Allocation (ETA). It prevents you from focusing on any one thing for too long a period of time, by showing you how to focus just long enough to obtain the informaiton you need and then move on.  



The third step in the model is Perform, whereby you demonstrate your level of mastery. The key to performing with confidence is Feedback. We teach something called a RED Check that allows you to derive benefit from even the most negative feedback. The specific steps in the RED Check provide you with techniques that help you to remove the emotional element of your response to negative feedback, and to find the value in what you are responding to.



The fourth step has to do with Evaluation. In order to be effective,  evaluations must have three key elements. They must be all-encompassing; have a definite structure; and have high stakes. What follows is the Enhance step, which is the application of what you learn through the evaluation to improve future performance.



Finally, the last step is simply to Repeat the process. If you follow these six steps of the PEER Performance Model, it is highly likely that your future performance in any endeavor will be significantly improved.

What will we, as voters, be looking for when we cast our vote in the next presidential election? Will we be voting for the next "leader" of the free world or the next "manager" of the free world? Regardless of  political affiliation, I think it's safe to say we want a leader, not a manager.


In the business world, does a CEO have to be well-versed in the details of how his or her employees perform their particular jobs? Or, does he or she have to know have to know "why" they are doing what they are doing, and what the end result will be? The answer is clear. The leader provides the vision, the "reason" everyone is doing what he or she doing.


True leadership is not easy to define, but the absence of it is immediately apparent. When there is a lack of leadership, the symptoms scream out to us. All kinds of bells and whistles go off. It can be anything from the complete failure of the company you work for, to the contractor not showing up to finish a job at your house.


What can you do about all of this? YOU can give more conscious thought to the concept of leadership, and the result will be more real leadership in your life, and in our society. Here are three things you can do this week. Pick one new leadership book and read it cover to cover. Identify one person whom you regard as a real leader, and pick his or her brain over lunch or dinner. Finally, take the time to talk about leadership with someone who is not as far along the path as you are, maybe a teenager or new worker in your organization. Doing these three simple things, on a regular basis, will dramatically change where you'll be in one year from now, in so many ways.

Check out the video link on our homepage to the Good Morning San Diego TV interview!

First Tunisia, then Egypt, now Libya. . .what's next? Why did it all come about? Each country is experiencing a crisis of leadership. But, the root of the leaders' problems is not leadership, it's Followership. Or more specifically, their inability to recognize the significance of this crucial aspect of leadership. From the past few months of observing the popular uprisings in the Middle East, one thing is clear. Leaders don't exist in a vacuum---even dictators and tyrants. 

Followership is not frequently addressed in leadership literature.  A recent Google search that I conducted revealed that the term "leadership" is mentioned approximately 1300 times for each time that the term "followership" is. Yet, it's vital if the understanding of leadership.

In my recently published book, The Pilot --- Learning Leadership (Greenleaf Book Group Press), fully one-third of it is devoted to this very topic and how it relates to leadership. Start with the following premise. You can't be a good leader if you're not a great follower. Let me add a few qualifiers. You can't be a good long-term, effective, and respected leader if you're not a great follower. I've studied leadership and it's components from the vantage point of a multitude of positions in military and civilian organizations. Using the military as an example, people who lead by virtue of their rank don't have to worry about getting people to follow them, so long as they outrank them, people will follow---or will they? They will to the extent that they have to. But, the effectiveness of leaders who understand their followers is exponentially greater. The reason? Because even in a military organization with a clearly defined command structure, leaders who have the support of their subordinates are immensely more successful than those who don't.  Those who really get the concept, get things done, and people get things done for them.

So, what does "getting" the concept really mean? It means that the leader has not forgotten what it's like to be in the shoes of his/her subordinates. This is easier said than done. But, simply being aware of the need to stay in touch with what it was like on the way up the organizational ladder is a great first step toward increased effectiveness. Effective leaders also work to identify Mach One Followers.  Mach One Followers are the "go to" people. They are enthusiastic at the beginning, middle, and end of a task. They understand the significance of three critical factors: Judgment, Enthusiasm, and Tenacity, and they continually work on developing each one. (More about these three key attributes on a future post).

An effective leader knows how to identify Mach One Followers and how to create an environment in which they can thrive. To be continued.  .  . 

Stop to think for a moment about anything that you do in your chosen occupation. For daily, routine matters that arise how do you handle them? You either know how to handle what comes up, or you know where you can get the information to handle it. Now, do you also have such an articulated, well-thought-out plan for your leadership development? If you don't no need to despair, you're not alone.

The idea of giving as much thought to your leadership development as you give to your daily, routine activities is something that many overlook. Simple observation tells us that routine activities in our job or profession take up the majority of our time. Yet, what has a much greater impact on our advancement, and the rest of our lives for that matter, is our ability to understand as much about leadership as possible. Not only our own leadership ability, but that of those around us.

In our latest book, The Pilot -- Learning Leadership, we talk about the path to leadership and what must be accomplished along the way. In fact, we use up around 50,000 words to illustrate it in a story and then with discussions of practical applications. But, for the purposes of this article, I'll address the global, high-altitude view.

Leaders are made not born. That's a basic assumption that has been proven by example after example. So, since this is the case, a natural question to pose is "how does someone become a leader?" After studying leadership for decades in various environments, it's crystal clear that there are a few pre-requisites. The first is something we call Mastery of Performance. Simply put, a leader must have the ability to attain mastery. Indeed, if you examine leaders throughout history, you'll usually find they have figured out how to be really good at a number of things. Sometimes, they are launched into leadership position simply because they have achieved mastery in some area, and that is almost always a mistake, because there are other vital components that must be included. One of those other vitals components is the ability to be a great follower. You can't be a good leader until you are a great follower. What is so important about understanding followership? To be continued . . .

It is important that the thoughts and reflections of each of us be directed to the families of those who were wounded, and to the families of those who lost their lives in the senseless Arizona shooting. We hope for a a speedy and full recovery for everyone involved.

As with all significant issues, sound leadership is now required to chart the path for the future.

I applaud Representative Giffords for her willingness to engage the people of her district on a direct, and personal level. Based on press reports, it appears that she truly wanted to give her constituents an opportunity to share their thoughts with her---on a regular basis.  As a society, we need direct access to our elected officials. We can't let this tradition fall by the wayside because of an isolated criminal act. I can't speak for Representative Giffords, but I suggest that she, of all people, would not want representatives and senators to stop interacting with their constituents the way she has done for years.  

For students of leadership, there will be much to observe in the coming months.  



Available Now!

Heart of a Military Woman

Colleen Hensley, contributing author

Available on Amazon.com


Available now on Amazon.com (Enter ISBN 978-1-60013-615-3)

Success Simplified -- Simple Solutions Measurable Results

Co-authored by Bill and Colleen Hensley; and Dr. Stephen Covey


''If you think flying a supersonic military jet has nothing to do with basic principles of leadership in business, think again. Every chapter of this exciting narrative about flight preparation, risk aversion, and split-second, high-speed execution bears upon what business leaders think about every day or, better yet, what they should think about. This book sets forth how to do things right when it really counts.''
--Dr. Eileen Mullady, former head of school, Horace Mann; former university administrator, Princeton and Columbia

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