Leadership involves directing group activities towards success. It involves creating good relationships and maintaining morale. Leadership is linked to teamwork. Teamwork is the sense of loyalty and responsibility towards other members of a group. Someone who is strong in this area has a sense of duty and works for the good of the group. They can be trusted to play their part in the team effort.
On January 15, 2009, US airways flight 1549 took off from New York heading to Charlotte, North Carolina. Shortly after take-off, Captain Chelsey Sullenberger (known as ‘Sully’) radioed air traffic control to report that the plane had been hit by a large flock of seagulls. As a result, both engines were disabled. The air traffic controller suggested returning to the airport, or landing in another airport in New Jersey. Sully quickly calculated that both options were not possible and simply said back: “We’ll be in the Hudson!” The Hudson is a large river in New York but attempting to land a plane there was an extremely difficult task.
Nevertheless, Sully managed to skilfully and successfully land the plane in the river. But the danger wasn’t over as the captain and crew had to get all the passengers off safely as the plane was surrounded by and was beginning to sink into the dark and frigid waters of the Hudson. Despite the danger, the crew managed to evacuate everyone safely including an infant and an elderly woman in a wheelchair. How did they do this? According to the reports of the passengers the crew remained calm and worked as a team. The passengers too, as they made their way to the exits did so without panic or rush.
Everyone exited onto the wings and down the emergency chutes. The evacuation took place in really harsh conditions – cold winter weather and even colder water. A number of people fell into the water, where they would have died of hypothermia within minutes but were courageously pulled from the river by their comrades. Sully patrolled twice up and down the aisles of the plane to make sure no one was left behind before eventually exiting himself.
Coastguard vessels, tour boats, and commuter ferries responded to the crisis by fishing people off the jetliner and giving the victims their coats, gloves and hats to prevent hypothermia.
How was leadership and teamwork in evidence in the above evacuation?
Why are these strengths important? In what situations are the required most?
Where else have you seen teamwork and leadership in action? Can you think of people who are strong in these areas?
Write about a time where you were involved in a situation where teamwork and leadership were practiced. What role did you take?
Discuss how might you strengthen your leadership and teamwork skills. Can you think of an opportunity to practice these skills this week?