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Is ‘Captainitis’ getting the better of you?

By | David Klaasen | Helping You Create Clarity, Inspire Your People & Drive Performance | Retain your best people | Changing Management Mindsets and Behaviour | Practical Behaviour Analytics

No one really likes to be challenged but it is sometimes very dangerous to have everyone around you agree with you. If you don’t encourage your people to challenge you the results can be fatal . . .

Take for example the following exchange taken from the flight recorder of Air Florida flight 90 just before it fell into the icy Potomac River near Washington DC, in 1982.

Co-Pilot: Let’s check the ice on those tops [wings] again since we’ve been sitting here a while.

Captain: No. I think we get to go in a minute.

Co-Pilot: [referring to an instrument as they prepare for take off] That doesn’t seem right does it? Uh, no that’s not right.

Captain: Yes it is.

[sound of plane straining unsuccessfully to gain altitude]

Co-pilot: Larry we are going down.

Captain: I know it.

[Sound of impact that killed the captain, co-pilot and 76 others]

The danger of ‘Knowing best’

While this may seem a rather extreme example, it is not uncommon for many of my clients to be dismayed by the actions of some of their people, only to be told “But you said we should do it this way”.

One client, let’s call him Pat, was discussing a problem on an IT Project with a member of his team and he was exploring an option for addressing a particular issue. The team member simply took what was an exploratory discussion as an instruction and implemented it without considering the implications. He acted as if he was ‘told to do it’ and in his mind that is exactly what had happened.

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