"People can learn the skills to be a leader," says Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, "and they don't need formal titles to be one. In fact, just about every person is a leader in some area of their life."
Living his five leadership principles helped Captain Sullenberger land Flight 1549 in the Hudson River and lead his passengers to safety on that fateful morning in 2009. In life and at work, these same principles can be applied to help improve leadership and make sound, ethical decisions, build loyalty and camaraderie, enhance morale and teamwork, embrace and learn from new experiences, and achieve goals amidst a crisis.
- Have a Clear Set of Values and Consistently Live Them When you are clear about your values, you’ll have a much easier time deciding on a course of action. Clear values give you long-term perspective and will help keep you from making knee-jerk reactions, including moral shortcuts.
- Care Deeply Leaders should care about the work they do and why it’s important. They should also care about their employees and try to make a personal connection with them. When you care, you can inspire great loyalty. People prefer working for someone who sees them as more than a cog in the machine.
- Create a Shared Sense of Responsibility and Empower Employees Personalize the mission and goals of the organization to help employees understand where they fit in. Give them control over as much of their jobs as you can, give them the tools they need, then let go. Remember, it is workers on the front line who know what is really going on in a business. And that know-how and insight is wasted when management does not hear them out.
- Make a Life-long Commitment to Learn and Grow Captain Sullenberger never trained specifically to land a plane on the Hudson, but he says that a lifetime of training, studying and experience helped him do it. Continually invest in yourself, so that you can be more valuable to everyone around you – your employer, your employees, your colleagues, your family and your community.
- Be a Realistic Optimist A realistic optimist is someone who has a positive outlook that is grounded in reality and based on ability. What that means is that you have confidence that you’ll succeed, even in the face of crisis, because you’ve laid the groundwork for success. Building groundwork involves learning from those more experienced in your field, practicing what you learn and learning from your mistakes.
Taken from the "Learn to Lead: Lessons with Captain 'Sully' Sullenberger" leadership development training program, part of the DuPont Sustainable Solutions human resources training curriculum. Watch a free full-length preview.