It’s natural to imagine a leader as someone who is in the spotlight – someone who is seen and heard. Most of the time, leaders who work quietly in the background go unnoticed until a crisis puts them into the spotlight.
While many leaders limit their role to managerial activities, what sets a great leader apart is their ability to operate with a clear purpose. A leader is anyone who takes ownership, takes action, and remains committed to achieving results.
Keep him calm: Story Spotlight
Last week, Robert Morgan, an air traffic controller at Palm Beach International Airport, was reading a book on his break outside the tower when a coworker yelled, “There’s a passenger flying a plane who isn’t a pilot, and the pilot is incapacitated, so they said you need to help them try and land the plane!”
Robert swung into action quickly to help a passenger in landing a plane that was nose-diving over the Atlantic Ocean after the pilot became incapacitated due to a medical emergency mid-flight.
Robert’s line of thought was to keep the passenger calm, point him to the runway, and instruct him on how to reduce power so he could land.
In addition to 20 years in tower control and being a part-time flight instructor, Robert had never flown this particular model, a Cessna Grand Caravan. He immediately printed out an image of the cockpit to understand the layout the passenger had in front of him.
Robert guided the passenger to begin descending and following the coastline for about 20 miles. When the passenger spotted the runway, Robert instructed him to slow the plane down by pulling back on the throttle.
When the plane got close to the runway, it vanished from Robert’s radar. He anxiously waited until he heard the passenger say the plane was “on the ground” before asking what they should do next.
During an interview after the heroic landing, Robert said that the entire experience made him feel like a teacher, referring to the passenger as his “best student.”
More than giving instructions
ATC operators are mostly used to interacting with pilots because their primary job is to guide planes to take off and land safely. However, when Robert had to talk with a passenger who had never flown an aeroplane before, he had to adapt quickly.
Robert’s actions mirror those of successful leaders, who operate from a place of inner clarity while providing direction and guidance to their teams in order to achieve objectives.
Leadership is about playing the guide while operating from a deep sense of purpose, whether it is handling a crisis or leading a business.
About The Author
Vinod Krishna is a brand storytelling trainer and consultant at DustyPaths.
He brings 3 decades of experience in leading people, projects, and businesses
to forge new paths in storytelling, communication and leadership development.
He is an avid barefoot runner, trekker, theater artist, and photographer.
Connect with him on LinkedIn