Your Call to Action
If there's one thing above all else that contributes to success in the air and on the ground, it is trust.
- By Waldo Waldman
- Jan 01, 2007
IMAGINE you're at an air show. It's a crisp spring day, and you're
waiting in anticipation for the next fly-by of aircraft. Next on the list is
the famous Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team. Suddenly, you hear
the distant roar of jet engines as a 4-ship of F-16 jet fighters approaches the
horizon. Within seconds, the sound becomes deafening as they scream by at 1,000
feet in absolute perfect formation, their wingtips separated by only 4 feet!
do they do it? What kind of intense training, discipline, and skill does it
take to fly these $30 million, technologically advanced aircraft at such high
speeds with such precision? What does it mean to be what fighter pilots call a Top Gun?
a former combat decorated fighter pilot, I am intimately familiar with this
world. I know firsthand that while
flying fighters is one of the most rewarding jobs you can have, it can also be
unforgiving. One small mistake could be disastrous. Operating in such a
demanding environment requires constant training, attention to detail, focus,
and commitment. There's simply no room for error. This is the world of
the Top Gun.
may be asking yourself, what does the world of the Top Gun pilot have in common
with the world of OSHA? Well, if you look closely, the similarities are more
common than you may think. You see, it's what goes on behind the scene
that guarantees a safe and successful mission, regardless whether you're
on a combat mission, on the factory floor, or in the office. The training,
teamwork, discipline, and commitment to excellence together create an
environment that fosters mission success . . . an environment with zero
mishaps, safe working conditions, and a loyal, enthusiastic workforce.
if there's one thing above all else that contributes to success in the
air and on the ground, it is trust.
- Trust in Yourself
- Trust in your Wingmen
- Trust as a Leader
we explore these traits of a Top Gun Leader, take a moment to explore how they
relate to you as a leader. More importantly, examine how striving to become a
more trusting leader can foster a safe, healthy, and productive environment at
in yourself means you:
- Prepare relentlessly for every
mission. You understand the
procedures, study the threat, analyze the environment,
and contingency plan every emergency.
- Chair fly every mission before doing it for real. This mission rehearsal process is
critical to troubleshoot and overcome the fear of failure or change.
- Focus first and foremost on your organization's mission. You are 100
percent accountable to this mission and have the courage to own the results!
Trust in your wingmen means you:
- Know whom to go to for help! No fighter pilot flies a mission solo, and neither
should you. We always fly with wingmen,
our trusted and reliable partners in the air and on the ground who help us to
- Check Six to promote an environment
of mutual support. By backing up your wingmen and being another set of eyes,
you provide perspective, guidance, and feedback to your wingmen. This improves
safety and mitigates the inherent risk that is often present when accomplishing
- Brief and de-brief every mission and
continuously work with your wingmen to improve training, standards, and
processes. You set objectives, assign responsibilities, hold everyone
accountable, and contingency plan as a team.
Trust as a leader means you have:
- A focused vision for the future of
your organization, for yourself, and for your wingmen. When you take the time
to see the world through the eyes of your wingmen you promote loyalty, which
leads to performance, which leads to results.
- Values that are the core of who you
are. Integrity, reliability, service before self, and a commitment to
excellence are the fuel that powers your behavior.
- Excellent communication skills.
Above all else, you listen to your wingmen and allow them to say the three most
important words when it comes to safety: "I need help." "Mayday" is the wingman's
call to action.
- A Train to Win attitude. You sharpen
your sword every day by relentless study and practice. You reward and encourage
those who do the right thing at work by promoting health and safety in the
have a saying in the fighter pilot world: "The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war." Getting the mission done right so that
every wingman makes it home to dinner is not easy. And it's definitely
not all the glory you may see in the movies. It's the consistent
sacrifice and dedication that lay the foundation for mission success when our
country calls us to action.
day, you too are called to action by your company, your co-workers, and your
customer to accomplish the mission safely. You must ask yourself if
you're willing to sweat and sacrifice to get this mission done. While
it's not easy, the rewards are well worth it. This is the mindset of a
Top Gun Leader, and you don't need to wear a flight suit or fly an F-16
to live it each day.
look forward to being your leadership wingman in the coming months as we
explore ways to build a Top Gun culture of courage in your organization.
Push it up!®
This column appeared in the January 2007 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.
This article originally appeared in the January 2007 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.