Leadership Thoughts for CFIs

I've recently completed running the operational side of the 49th Walsh Memorial Scout Flying School, my 18th as CFI, and I found myself reflecting on leadership styles.  Unfortunately I missed the CAA's CFI Seminar last year, as I was delivering an ATPL class, so I thought I'd blog some of my opinions on leadership in a flight training environment.

Firstly, and I am sure without question, senior instructors must lead by example.  If for no other reason than for the fact that the human animal learns by mimicking others around them.

Make it easy for the instructors in your team to do the right thing, and they will.  If your instructing team are not performing as you expect, reflect on what you could be doing to facilitate their improved performance. Nevertheless, if junior instructors have never seen a particular teaching technique or style, they will have real difficulty conceptualising and applying it.  I have never criticised other instructors who struggle to teach a certain way or to have certain standards. They most probably didn't receive the quality instruction you are trying to install, and don't really understand what you are trying to say.

Demand the highest professional standards, of yourself and of others.  Praise good performance in public, but deliver a reprimand in private.  We all have feelings and being a CFI is never an excuse to play power games.  Humility is a vital part of all piloting, not the least instructing.  We are all ignorant about some things and we are all able to learn.  In fact, the rate at which I am learning makes me realise how little I know.

Finally, be patient.  It takes time to build a good training team and environment, so don't become despondent if it doesn't happen quickly or easily.  Changing cultures takes time.

Good luck in your role as a CFI, it is a critically important part of our industry.