NBAA Conference Will Show How Courage Shapes Leadership

NBAA’s 2017 Leadership Conference will help business aviation managers to channel strength and courage as they lead their teams in tackling the multiple challenges the industry faces. According to organizers, the February 14–16 event in Miami will help “rising stars and established leaders” to develop the courage needed to cope with the rapid-fire business decisions that now have to be made to keep up with the fast pace of change. The program features an exceptional array of speakers, offering very different takes on the impact of courage in situations as diverse as piloting the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft, climbing Mount Everest, or finding the strength to effect positive change in large corporations (regardless of whether or not your position carries a leadership title).

The main premise of the conference’s theme is that courage can be taught and applied on a daily basis to all aspects of leadership roles in business aviation. Speakers will provide guidance on how to negotiate and communicate effectively and how asking different questions can change the responses you get in both professional and personal situations. The conference is co-chaired by Josh Mesinger, vice president of Mesinger Jet Sales, and Reggie Arsenault, Jeppesen’s director of general aviation client management.

“While flight department leaders might have a leadership level title in their flight department, within the greater organization they often struggle to effect change, find ways to add value and get the attention of their principals and companies,” comments Mesinger. He adds that the session presented by Chris White, managing director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizations, will provide tangible skills to help individuals find the courage to show leadership in situations where they don’t necessarily have formal authority.

Mesinger provides another example of a real scenario in which a business aviation professional needed to find the courage to take a different approach to remove obstacles to progress. “I was just talking with the head of a flight department who was telling me how he is struggling to get his new CEO to help define the company’s future mission needs. It’s time to evaluate their fleet and make changes,” he explains. “This aviation director keeps asking for input from his CEO, but the CEO keeps telling him he knows what they have done in the past and he trusts the aviation director’s choices for replacement aircraft. I know this is a common challenge. If, however, the aviation director can learn how to change his question, I think that he [and many like him] will start to get different [and] better answers and be able to better support their organizations. It takes great courage to do this, but successful leadership requires it.”

Other speakers include Vernice “Flygirl” Armour, the first African-American female combat pilot, who has also served as a police officer. Her presentation will focus on how courage can help individuals to turn obstacles into opportunities for professional breakthroughs.

Another pilot among the speakers is Brian Shul, who was shot down while flying combat missions in the Vietnam War and went on to fly the SR-71 Blackbird. The program also includes Alison Levine, who led the first all-female climbing expedition up Mount Everest and Shaun Tomson, a former professional surfer from South Africa.