May 8, 2019

Personality traits that elevate the best leaders were highlighted during the jointly held Management Conference and Flight Attendants/Flight Technicians Conference keynote presented by retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Leslie F. Kenne, the first woman to attain that rank in the U.S. Air Force.

Following an introduction from NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, Kenne drew from her distinguished career to offer examples of soft skills that translate to strong leadership.

Be Approachable

As individuals rise to higher positions of leadership, Kenne said it’s imperative to remain approachable. Effective leaders must balance firmness and decisiveness with an openness to dissent from all levels of colleagues.

“If you do not tolerate different opinions and have a wholly uninviting demeanor, you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who only tell you what you want to hear,” she said. “By the time you find about problems you’ll have a crisis on your hands.”

Develop a Habit of Enthusiasm and Positivity

Kenne noted that a positive attitude sets the tone for your entire team. While people may not always love what they do, she emphasized that you always have a choice to approach tasks with enthusiasm and positivity.

“Develop that habit and it will create a force within you to tackle the big challenges as they come,” she advised. “It will be contagious and take your whole team to the next level.”

Don’t Neglect Humor as a Leadership Tool

“A good sense of humor is a leadership multiplier,” Kenne stressed, noting that humor is often neglected when it comes to key leadership traits.

She recalled one of the most effective leaders from her military career using humor to diffuse tense situations, often by turning the joke on himself. This enabled teams to continue discussion on important topics without getting stuck on interpersonal conflict.

“Humor can liberate others to be themselves, enjoy their work and be more productive,” she said.

Always Be a Student of Leadership

Advising the audience that leadership training is a lifelong process, she discussed meeting Gen. Collin Powell and paying close attention to the personality traits that caused people to gravitate to him. Effective leaders, she said, should always be studying people they work with and admire with a goal of self-improvement.

“Always be a student of leadership, looking for those traits of great leaders that you’d like to emulate,” she told the audience.

The NBAA Management Conference and NBAA Flight Attendants/Flight Technicians conference are being co-located for the first time. Both events are taking place May 7-9 in Fort Worth, TX.