The Challenge of Self-Taught Pilots

Recently, I talked with a CEO who, after building a really good company over decades, felt stuck about how to get to the next level of growth. 

As he described the challenges and turmoil, I used this airplane analogy to help him understand where he was: 

In many ways, founder CEOs are like self-taught pilots who have the desire and determination to learn how to fly. They start small and put the time and effort into learning locally. They expand their territory and may fly nationally or internationally, acquiring bigger planes to go faster and higher. They often run into intense storms. Despite a few bumps and possibly crashes, they keep going until they get better and better. But it comes at a cost.

The CEO started to smile and nod, saying that’s exactly how he felt. Although he continued to learn and take courses—and he found his work thrilling and rewarding—turbulent times were incredibly stressful. And much of his team felt the same.

And, he was relieved to hear he’s not the only one up against this challenge. 

Flight Training

The reality is that no matter how much formal education someone has, there is very little training on how to be an effective CEO.

And that’s where my firm comes in. We specialize in giving self-taught, founder CEOs, or members of a family business, real-life flight training to help them become expert pilots.

Three Major Skills

Effective CEOs or senior leaders in business need the skills to:

    • Develop a really good crew–a highly effective team of A-players
    • Establish competent air traffic control–tools to clarify the right strategy to win and grow in the market
    • Read accurate instruments–data about direction and performance, and if they are tracking to their intended destination.

A Continual Learning Curve

At the end of our conversation, he understood that he’s on the same learning curve as every other CEO to master skills like an amazing pilot.

And that mastery is a lifelong learning experience to continually improve his capability to build a bigger and better business.

The Challenge

To be an effective CEO or leader, which specific skill do you need to become more masterful?

    • To build incredibly capable teams
    • To develop and implement a clear and impactful strategy or 
    • To know the numbers that help you to make smarter decisions, faster?

If you’d like to improve your pilot training, call us. We’re here to help. And stay tuned for our upcoming book The 4 Forces of Growth that will take a deep dive into the mastery of CEO flight. 

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