I like airports. I like the vibe. The movement and sense of movement and mission in them is obvious. Airports and leadership have a lot in common. Leading is like running an airport. Airports make for a great analogy of leadership.
People who buy tickets, pack and make their way to the airport are intentional. They are going somewhere. They flock to the place that will connect them with the intent.
People become part of your enterprise because there’s a personal connection to its cause. I wonder if altruism has an absolute. There’s a level of fulfilment people will seek.
The challenge for the leader is connecting the team’s mission with people on the team.
Most of what happens in airports is out of sight. Baggage doesn’t just go on the conveyor and voilà. The booking systems, many airlines, traffic controllers and a billion other things. It takes a lot of of little but important things to make the airport work.
The same applies to leadership. It is about managing many components. It is like controlling a string struck by one violinist so the ochestra’s piece is grand.
Leaders make sure every player contributes to the symphony nothing else. Managing many components of one thing.
Leadership is about having purpose for every action and function.
Leaders who cannot see the many components of the one big thing are ineffective and bound to fail.
Security and risk is not ignored at airports. Leaders must keep an eye out and make provision for risk.
Airports serve different people with different destinations. Every enterprise meets a need somewhere. Keeping the reason obvious is great leadership. Leader, remember who you serve.
Communication at airports is frequent through different channels. Great leadership communicates often and in more than one way. Leaders communicate by what they say and model as they live out the values of the organisation they lead.
I’m sure you guessed it by now. Yes, I wrote this waiting for my flight, at an airport ;-) It might be a helpful thing for you, leader, to spend some time observing at the airport.