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Orescan: What is Your Legacy?

Leaving your mark is not restricted to CEOs.


September 27, 2007
By Chris Orescan

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When people hear the term “legacy” in aviation, they usually associate
it with the legacy airlines, Air Canada and CP Air. Have you ever
stopped and asked yourself what your legacy will be? Establishing a
legacy is not restricted or limited to companies or CEOs. Operation’s
managers, chief pilots, training captains and flight crews are all
capable of leaving some sort of legacy. So what will your legacy be?
What have you been doing so far to achieve your goal?

A
little while ago I was able to spend some time with an old friend.
After getting caught up, we started discussing some of the people we
had flown for and with; we reviewed some of the people we had trained
and managed and where they are now. We looked at what kind of job we
had done to date in terms of the people we trained and managed. Are
they the best they can be? Will they continue to challenge themselves
to be the best they can be, and will they look for the best ways to
teach, influence and manage those left in their charge? Did we leave a
good foundation for these people to build upon and what type of legacy
did we leave? Believe it or not, these are difficult questions to ask,
especially if you hope to know the truth about yourself. It’s an
exercise that should take some time to complete.

Many of us have
experienced being trained or managed by people who were not really that
qualified, many of whom themselves were not properly trained or
managed, perhaps because they lacked role models. Many pilots can
recall poor role models and weak management techniques, and once in a
safe area they’re all too happy to point out those weakness and faults.
It’s unfortunate that there are still many companies whose structure
does not allow for people to address these concerns. In a fair world,
these people would not only be made aware of their shortcomings, but
also be open to hearing about them. But we do not live and work in that
fair world, and although we may recognize certain faults in these
managers, we also need to be cognizant of our own leadership skills.

Before
you say that you are not in a position that carries a burden of
responsibility, I challenge you to think about that very junior first
officer, or that new captain sitting beside you and how they’re looking
to you for guidance. The truth is that you will likely always have
someone watching you and learning from you, whether for good or bad.
The people under us view and pay attention to how we deal with ATC,
customers, fellow staff members and even management and owners. The
reality is that we are not that different from our children who learn
more from watching us than by what we say to them.

As a friend
likes to remind me, there are many people who are parachuted into
positions that they are not qualified for or that they’re ill-equipped
to handle. Sadly, egos get in the way which does not allow for an
honest evaluation of abilities or skills. I have endeavored in the past
to relate to people that it requires a great deal more energy to
re-educate people or to re-establish a good name than it does to do it
correctly from the beginning.

A colleague and friend who I have
worked with in the past recently accepted a new position and
advancement in his career. As part of his exit, he posted a thank you
note which publicly recognized and thanked by name those people who
offered him opportunities, gave him guidance and helped mold him into
the pilot he had become. This was not only one of the most humble notes
I have ever read, it demonstrated extreme class and I recognized that
these people he spoke of have left their legacy. With this simple and
humble note this friend and colleague has also established his own
legacy and I wish him great success in his future endeavors!

To
strive for better, we must first know where we are and where we want to
go, and then we need to make a conscious decision to get educated and
be open-minded to learning from others, otherwise the same errors and
the same cycle repeats itself.


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