Flying a Flight Simulator to Develop, Engage and Coach your Leaders

July 1st, 2010 by Amanda Potter Leave a reply »

How can you show your current and future leaders how much you value them and want to invest in them?

Do so, by investing in their professional development, offering them an exciting challenge that will also benefit your business – flying a Boeing 737-800 Full Flight Simulator.

Imagine, the time is 23.35 and you are on a flight from Paris flying in a Boeing 737-800 (Next Generation) to London Heathrow, currently at 35,000ft to the North East of London travelling at 500 mph, and you hear the following:

“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. Ladies and gentlemen, we regret to inform you that we have lost both our pilots due to the serious sickness illness and now need two volunteers to fly the aircraft”

You have been nominated to help and now find yourselves being taken into the cockpit of the aircraft by the Senior Cabin Crew member on board….

We offer a unique and highly innovative opportunity to challenge your current and future leaders by pushing them outside of their comfort zone and bringing forth their core behaviours. Research has shown that taking someone out of their ‘normal’ working environment, giving them a completely novel task that will put them under pressure, increases the cognitive demand on them. The result of this is that people fall back on their core behaviours and automated coping strategies, the very behaviours that come to the fore at times of pressure in the workplace. Therefore, our findings translate directly into the workplace, a key feature of our service.

Using a team of highly trained applied psychologists and experienced airline pilots, we look at key behaviours in terms of strengths (bright side) and potentially derailing behaviours (dark side) as well as the use of Emotional Intelligence when working with others. Identifying these in a highly charged but ‘safe’ environment, which will not have potentially disastrous consequences for your business; means that we can work with individuals to capitalise on their strengths and seek to avoid derailers. The outcome is stronger leaders and high-performing individuals.

The experience is challenging and exceptional, ideal for the assessment of key behaviours. Aspects that are looked at include:
• Ability to cope under pressure
• Decision Making
• Situational Awareness
• Leadership
• Teamwork
• Attitude to Risk

However, we discuss exact requirements with clients and can focus on specific areas identified as being crucial in the workplace. Thus the assessment will depend on requirements and desired outcomes.

We incorporate psychometric tools into our assessment, using these to support our observations on the day and to explore potential areas for development as well as preferred thinking, behavioural and working styles. The assessment itself can be individual or dual and there is no requirement to have any flying skills. The focus is on non-technical flying scenarios that challenge delegates to work independently as well as part of an extended team, both within the cockpit and beyond it.

Areas we cover include:

Leadership Development

Recent research has shown that the best leaders combine ‘driving’ and ‘enabling’ behaviours, adapting their style according to the circumstances. Successful leaders show flexibility and creativity of leadership (performance enablers) in addition to the more traditional management skills of control and use of procedures. Performance enablers such as self-belief, self-control and openness provide leaders with the necessary foundation upon which they build high-performing teams who are loyal and supportive, even during turbulent times.

Performance enablers can be measured using Emotional Intelligence (EI) tools. EI distinguishes superior performance from run-of-the-mill performance. Many managers are unaware or unsure how to utilise their performance enablers. Similarly, the identification of key behavioural strengths and potential derailing behaviours brought on by pressure can be beneficial to enable a manager to play to the former whilst avoiding the latter.

Executive One to One Coaching

We specialise in coaching for Executives and people in leadership roles. We use combinations of dark, bright and emotional assessment tools to facilitate the learning and development of an individual and to challenge their assumptions. Through the integration of this information with the observed behaviours during the assessment we can identify areas to focus on. Evidence has shown that employees who benefit from having a coach take personal responsibility for their motivation, effectiveness and development. We work closely with our clients to agree the objectives and desired outcomes from any coaching intervention.

Pairs Coaching to Improve Cohesive Working

We also specialise in pairs coaching and conflict resolution for Executives in the event that leaders are not working together cohesively. Evidence has shown taking employees out of the work environment and asking them to work on challenging activities that both engage and stretch them as a pair, means that they can start to see, hear and understand the bright and dark side characteristics of their colleagues and understand how they interact, work and do not work effectively. Employees in conflict particularly benefit from this type of intervention. This is because they are most often the ones who take personal responsibility, are motivated to develop and want to change. We work closely with our clients to agree the objectives and desired outcomes from any coaching or conflict resolution intervention

Here are some testimonials:

“The first thing I was told when I got into the flight simulator was “Mayday Mayday – you have 158 passengers on board, both pilots are unconscious; you have to take control and fly and land the aircraft”.

You have minimal data – you know how to reach air traffic control, how much fuel you have and that’s it. You and your inexperienced co-pilot are now in control of a Boeing 737. Dials, clocks and emergency alarms stare and shout back at you – what do you do?

A series of emergencies occur which are very real indeed. For 90 minutes we were tested in a totally alien environment. Our ability to rapidly respond to changing circumstances is being monitored by a fully trained pilot, and two trained observers. Our ability to forward plan, communicate, analyse and make quick judgement calls are being constantly assessed. All in all it was a great experience. The feedback and coaching was invaluable. I would highly recommend this intervention for executive development. You cannot hide behind status, job title or role. It’s who you really are and you will be amazed about what you find out about you”.

Rachel Richardson, Group HR Director, Sportingbet.

“Swapping the usual Monday morning emails, phone calls and meetings to take up the controls of a 747 jumbo jet was more than just a welcome change of scenery. It was a chance to step into a completely alien environment with the 100% removal of existing comfort zones.

At 35,000 feet, with no experience of flying, alarm bells ringing and warning lights flashing you start to strip your communication, leadership and decision making skills down to their most basic, void of expert knowledge and experience. This was not only a fantastic opportunity, but with the expert facilitation from Zircon it provided the chance to really learn something about yourself in a safe, yet tremendously realistic, stressful and ultimately enjoyable environment…Thank you Zircon.”

Chris Small, Managing Consultant, Saville Consulting Ltd

Please contact Amanda Potter 01737 555 862 for further information.

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