March 25, 2021

NBAA GO Leadership Summit keynote speaker Dr. JP Pawliw-Fry, a psychologist and international performance coach to Olympic athletes and executives, provided tips at an NBAA Leadership Council workshop on how to move your team to success by considering the “last 8%.”

“Leadership Council members are individuals and companies that have raised their hand, that have self-identified as companies and individuals who chose to lead,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen in introducing Pawliw-Fry during the NBAA GO Leadership Summit session. “They are individuals and companies who care about the industry today, tomorrow and well into the future.”

Pawliw-Fry opened his talk by asking, “Why would anyone want to be led by you?” He said answering that question is even more important during this time of uncertainty.

A leader’s intent is to be successful, to adapt and be brave, but something seems to get in the way, he said.

Pawliw-Fry encouraged session attendees to think about the last 8% of thoughts we withhold from a conversation, the last 8% of a task left incomplete, or of a decision unmade. Identifying and resolving that last 8% is critical to individual and organizational success.

“These are the moments that will differentiate your career,” Pawliw-Fry said. “These are the moments that will differentiate your organization.”

He also explained the importance of consistency in leadership, saying even showing up in a bad mood can have long-term impacts on your team. In general, people look for consistency, and consistent behavior builds trust.

“We feel before we think,” Pawliw-Fry explained. “The part of the brain that feels actually takes over” in an “amygdala hijack,” which refers to a personal, emotional response that is immediate, overwhelming and out of proportion to the actual stimulus.

He encouraged attendees to consider their “big three” indicators of an amygdala hijack. For Pawliw-Fry, a literal “hot head” – that is, his forehead actually gets hot – who feels an urgency to express his views and certainty of his rightness are signs of an amygdala hijack. For others, the “big three” could include a racing heart, changes in voice pitch or a flush face.

For about 18 minutes after emotions overtake thinking, a person is simply not as smart as they normally are, he said. Pawliw-Fry urged leaders to identify their own big three and develop strategies to manage an amygdala hijack.

He also encouraged leaders to develop good habits, including a morning habit that doesn’t involve a phone or other device.

“For the first half hour or so, your brain is not ready for that assault,” Pawliw-Fry said.

Emails, texts, newsfeeds and so on can trigger a burst of cortisol, which decreases serotonin – making you less happy, suppressing the immune system and increasing blood sugar levels. Instead, he suggested, take a 15-minute walk and practice moving mindfulness.

This session was provided to NBAA Leadership Council members exclusively as part of the first-ever NBAA Go Leadership Summit. Learn more about the NBAA Leadership Council.