Business aviation is a maturing industry that’s kept pace with technological advances, ensuring its people maintain their proficiency with those advances. But, argues ServiceElements president Bob Hobbi, the industry hasn’t necessarily kept up with developing the people in it. And it’s why Hobbi’s organizational and people-development firm is partnering with FlightSafety International on a new program called Leadership Bootcamp. The goal is to equip people in the industry with the knowledge they need to advance within their organizations and effectively lead them.
The path to leadership in business aviation has traditionally been to promote technically capable people within corporate flight departments, FBOs, and related organizations, Hobbi told AIN. The assumption was if you have a good pilot, then she’ll probably make a good chief pilot. Or that skilled mechanic should be good at serving as a lead, supervisor, or director of maintenance. “The path of growth was purely based on technical capabilities,” Hobbi explained. “And what we saw was a deficiency, through numerous examples, where we would promote highly, technically qualified individuals in our industry to roles of leadership without giving them any kind of leadership tools or skills, or abilities, and then watch them flounder.”
The three-day bootcamp aims to help those workers on the path to promotion in the industry succeed as leaders. Its curriculum aims to instruct attendees on how to help the people they lead grow in their careers and be accountable and empowered. Communication, managing conflict, and understanding generational differences are among the topics covered in the bootcamp as well, Hobbi added. “It’s highly focused on people leadership and people issues rather than tactical issues.”
Organizations that send their leaders and potential leaders to the bootcamp also stand to benefit. “What makes a difference, and what leaders of today’s business and general aviation organizations have the opportunity to do, is to enhance the value of their services to their customers through people, and by advancing people’s abilities to further serve their enterprises…they can bring additional value to their customers,” Hobbi noted. “Ultimately, it’s people who truly add value. So that’s why we’re focused on, in a three-day bootcamp, talking about opportunities where you can lead your team into a more cohesive group of people who have a common goal, who have a common direction.”
A director of maintenance for a Fortune 50 flight department based in Dallas who attended the bootcamp told AIN he thinks he has become a better leader after attending the program and benefitted hearing from other maintenance managers how they run their departments and the challenges they’ve faced as leaders. “Both of my [potential] successors, I had them go through his class as well,” he said. “That’s how much I believe in what Bob’s doing in this program.”
So far, FlightSafety and ServiceElements have conducted five bootcamps since starting the program in last year's second half. There are three bootcamps planned for the remainder of this year: July 16-18 at FlightSafety’s Long Beach (California) Learning Center; September 17-19 at its Teterboro (New Jersey) Learning Center; and November 5-7 at its Dallas North Learning Center.