Michael Useem on Leadership Lessons from Capt. Sullenberger

He had just taken off on Airbus A320 from New York, when his plane was hit by a flock of birds. Captain Sullenberger reported a “double strike”. Both engines had been hit in mid-air, and anything could happen. With a composure bordering limits of human objectivity, he landed the aircraft safely in the middle of the Hudson river. Not a single passenger was injured.

US Airways Flight 1549 afloat in the Hudson

US Airways Flight 1549 afloat in the Hudson

———

Prof. Michael Useem is the Director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. In his recent column for the Washington Post, Prof. Useem has identifies key leadership insights from Captain Sullenberger’s actions. Let me share them here:

1. We should first develop technical mastery of our main goal.

2. We should then be masters of our self-discipline. Ignore distractions, focus on what matters.

3. Master making good and timely decisions.

In learning about those five minutes and the entire life that prepared him for those minutes, we may be that much better prepared for those future moments when our own leadership is on the line. Thank you Captain Sullenberger.

Often in life we come across circumstances that test us to the core. We are also occasionally witness to others being tested. Those moments can become snapshots of everlasting lessons. Have you learned any such lesson(s) in similar ways? Feel free to share..

P.S. — Prof. Useem is also the Editor of the Wharton Leadership Digest. I had the good fortune of interacting with him when I wrote an article for the Digest last year.

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