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“We can’t find the captain.”

by | Jul 5, 2022

Celebrating Brett’s (our son) Bday in Denver

You finally board the airplane after multiple delays due to ____  fill in the blank here with either mechanical, weather or logistics issues. You’re late for your destination plans. You’re not real happy but you’re at least on your way.

The flight attendant then says on the loudspeaker, “We are ready to go but we can’t find the captain.”

My flight to Denver gets further postponed. Where is this captain?! Delayed in another city? Running to the aircraft from somewhere in the DFW airport? At the bar?

We are a group of 181 passengers (all seats occupied) on an Airbus 321 seeking a leader.

Reminds me of current times – businesses that can’t find their captain… leading to our present labor shortage everywhere.

Leadership skills needed TODAY

Communicate, listen & empathize

Let’s unpack the flight attendant’s comment: “We can’t find the captain!” At least this American Airlines employee displayed transparency. But there’s a better way.

  • First – understand your audience. (We are frazzled by this point in our non-travel story.) How can you relate to your valued team(s)? Where is their pain, what’s going well, what are their challenges? Know this upfront.
  • Second – listen to your Board of Directors, your SVPs, your constituents. Information talks and wisdom listens.
  • Third – empathize with your audience. Look at the reality from their point or view.

Have a strategy & vision

Good or bad times – effective leaders know where they’re going. AND they’ve communicated, collaborated and created a business with a communally shared picture of what success looks like.

Be resilient

Old cliché but it works: winning comes down to how fast you can get up from the floor when everything goes south (or something like that!).

Definition of resilience: able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.

Leaders figure out how to keep going.

The flip side to today’s leadership vacuum

Today offers a chance to shine as the leader of your business with a team that wants to be a passenger on your plane… so to speak.

We did make it to Denver. The Captain finally showed up.

Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate & sell. She lives in Dallas, Texas and had a great time in Denver with Jim celebrating their son’s birthday. 

© 2022 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved


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