The Continuing Challenge of Leadership

Picking your landing spot

In a world where we are bombarded with information at every turn, we tend to lose site of meanings. Our vision and memories are often clouded or blurred by the amount of information we receive on a daily basis. Too often very different words and concepts become accepted (in general) by the masses as being one and the same when in fact, given a little thought, we are reminded that they (the words) are actually quite different.

Look at the words “objective” and “purpose.” When asked, many – if not a majority of people today – will say that those two words mean the same thing. It isn’t that they haven’t known the differences or definitions; it is quite simply that our society has allowed the differences to be muddled…to be mashed into a single definition, as it were.

The same thing is true about “leadership” and “management.” These two words have very different meanings and overtones, yet most people treat them as being the same. Rest assured they are not the same.

Using a simple definition we can say that leadership provides the vision, direction, goals, and principles for a group or organization. Management on the other hand, directs the resources including the people in that group or organization according to the vision, direction, goals and principles established by the leadership. That being said, you cannot have true leadership without sound management, nor can you have true management without sound leadership. Author/Lecturer Stephen R. Covey describes the differences as, “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

We see then that leadership without management often sets a vision or direction with little regard to what it will take to get there. Additionally, we see that management without leadership works to maintain the status quo in line with previously established plans. Business tycoon Ross Perot said of leadership and management, “Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed, but people must be led.”

That leads to this question ‘can leadership and management be separated?’ According to authors P. Hersey and K. Blanchard, “Leadership occurs any time one attempts to influence the behavior of an individual or group, regardless of the reason. Management is a kind of leadership in which the achievement of organizational goals is paramount.”

As stated earlier, we can now see that leadership and management together should effectively produce a vision while controlling and managing the resources needed to achieve that vision, and doing so while consistently moving toward a stated goal or outcome.

Preparing to takeoff

So what does this have to do with aviation? Everything! On at least a weekly basis, the aviation community is threatened by downturns due to outrageous gas prices brought about by outrageous oil prices. We see threats of extensive fees brought about by federal agencies. We see threats of potential cost explosions to be levied against aircraft owners and their pilots because of security issues brought about by terrorism in our world.

We see reports in the aviation news dailies about threats to airports across the nation brought about by encroachment, lack of understanding, lack of communication, or a simple disregard for safety for aviators, as well as for the people who are allowed to buy, build, and work on property at the fence of airports or just off the end of runways well within stated safety zones that should be clear of everything.

What general aviation and aviation in general needs today is for every aviator to take an active leadership role in supporting aviation and their airport(s) right now. This can be done by becoming well informed about the important issues facing aviation today. Then each aviator can make dedicated efforts on a consistent basis to educate the non-aviators of their community, community leaders, and their state and federal legislative representatives about the importance, value, and necessity of and for general aviation in our communities.

Aviators need to communicate regularly with their airport manager and management team. Ask the manager what YOU as an individual can do to support or assist him/her and their staff. Ask what their plans are for the future of the airport.

Support the “Adopt-an-Airport” program and assist your airport manager in making that program a local success that clearly benefits the entire community. You can also help your local airport support the “Adopt-a-School” program and help spread the word about aviation and its many facets to the youth of your community.

Do your research and know your facts about General Aviation and your airport. Remember that General Aviation has a $12.2 billion impact on the state of Minnesota through its network of 135 public airports. Also, GA’s impact includes the creation of 164,900 jobs in Minnesota, while providing more than $6.5 billion in labor income annually.

It is time for every aviator to take on a leadership role for the benefit of aviation for sure, but also for the continued benefits aviation brings to their community and the surrounding region. It is extremely important to remind the leaders and community members that your airport is the “front door” to your community.

Become an activist for your airport. If you fly or use the airport for any reason, you know its value. Take that knowledge and passion for aviation and share it throughout your community and surrounding region. Remember, in the words of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, “Each airport is unique, but all provide valuable resources for the metropolitan community, encouraging growth in commerce and jobs, providing green space and recreational opportunities, and boosting the local area economy.”

So let the continuing challenge of leadership move you to be an active leader for aviation. Add your voice and support to keeping aviation and your local airport a vitally important and truly valuable part of your community.

This entry was posted in Aug/Sept 2013, MN Aeronautics Bulletin, Sections and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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