July 2, 2020

During times of change – such as the unfolding COVID-19 crisis – company leaders and their employees have to be adaptable and willing to communicate honestly. Managers, in particular, need to practice situational leadership, adjusting to the moment to do what is needed.

“Situational leadership is dynamic, not static,” stressed Bernie Bradley, president and CEO of InSight Performance Group, during NBAA’s July 1 News Hour webinar. “You have to recognize change and pivot accordingly.”

Bradley, a former U.S. Air Force officer, said good leaders remain humble, true to themselves, and are effective communicators. “Sometimes, it’s more important to be a good listener than to talk,” she said, adding that “you must be honest because trust is everything.”

For professionals early in their career, this could be a time to take initiative and become an emerging leader. In this context, Bradley shared three takeaways for “managing up” during tough times:

  • First, leaders have to initiate and guide the process, making a case for change.
  • Second, effective leaders strategize by developing a comprehensive plan, which should include priorities, timelines, and resources needed.
  • Finally, translating the plan into execution depends on effective delegation and communication. “You’ll also want to create metrics to measure how you are doing,” noted Bradley.

“Leadership is the ability to influence and inspire others,” said Bradley, adding that many leadership skills can be learned, and should be practiced by trying them out in a non-professional role such as being a board or committee member on a nonprofit organization or a community volunteer.

Sierra Grimes, NBAA senior manager, registration and programs, pointed to the many leadership positions within local business aviation groups. These opportunities across the country can provide great practice at honing leadership skills.

Bradley recommended that both current and future leaders find a mentor or have a support system of friends and colleagues, especially for help through these turbulent times. NBAA’s Young Professionals in Business Aviation (YoPro) group would be ideal, noted Grimes. “We also offer the NBAA Mentoring Network,” she said.

These days, leaders must fill many expectations. “Leaders never lose sight of the big picture,” declared Bradley. “You need to know where you want to take people before you ask them to follow you.”