Disengaging Autopilot: Leading with Intention

Setting the Standard

We all must strive to promote a healthier, more inviting operational and industry environment through collaboration, open communication, and ingenuity.

Autopilot has its place in aviation, but not in industry leadership. If we’ve learned any lesson over the past two years, it’s that what we’ve always done will not necessarily work in this ever-evolving operating environment. 

Industry leaders who haven’t shifted from a transactional to a long-term strategy mentality run the risk of being left behind. And while consolidation is a current theme in business aviation, competition for customers, staffing, and funding is increasingly high. We are competing internally for business, but we are also competing externally with other industries for vital resources.

What can we do to set a course for success as we move from 2021 and into 2022? We must first question if the decisions we are making today will have lingering, unintended consequences for the future. Stop and ask yourself, “What don’t I know?” 

Start with a micro focus within your own operations, but then move to a macro focus on the aviation business industry as a whole. It is critically important to develop robust, quality cultures that focus on transparency, growth, and safety. 

Look at your operation from all angles and perspectives. What has worked this year that may have surprised you? Can that be maintained? Work schedules and expectations have changed over the past year. Is there a way to embrace such changes to allow for increased
productivity and better work-life balance? 

Share as much information as possible with your team to gain their trust and expedite success. Communicate your intentions to your team and trust them to get you where you need to be. 

Creating an environment of continuous improvement and learning will help build and foster a workforce that not only stays, but also assists in recruiting others. Energized employees are among our industry’s best cheerleaders. 

We all must strive to promote a healthier, more inviting operational and industry environment through collaboration, open communication, and ingenuity. By leaning on one another to spark creativity and gain efficiencies, the industry has moved the needle on multiple fronts, including illegal charter awareness and education; demonstrating immense value at all times, but especially during times of great need; and advancing sustainability initiatives (as Tim outlined in his column). 

NATA has been in front of our membership and their communities to hear what has challenged them the most in this new and changing operating environment, but also to learn what has made them successful. As your association, we are thrilled to provide a Roundtable for industry leaders to participate in and shape these discussions, as well as provide access to some of the most engaged minds…our new Chairman’s Circle—an offshoot of the President’s Council. The NATA Chairman’s Circle will convene at a crucial time for our industry. We invite you to join them this November in Miami for NATA’s Aviation Business Conference (ABC). The ABC will provide a valuable forum for gathering the industry’s top leaders to share information and lay a foundation for success, one that helps advance all aviation businesses. 

Leading with intention means assembling all of the pieces to gain a complete environmental scan, then working with your team and your association to build a strategy that will benefit your business and our industry now and into the future. 

It’s time for us all to stop lingering at the same altitude and advance to a higher level.


Welcome to the Aviation Business Journal, the official publication of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA).