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Flight- HR


Vhanathi Baskaran

on 5 April 2013

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Transcript of Flight- HR


Referencing the movie “Flight” this presentation attempts to break down and examine the organizational leadership grid from both a Leader Style and Authentic perspective.

Researching these models, leadership is examined through a Style Leadership perspective and an Authentic leader approach to try and determine how substance abuse was left unchallenged by so many members of an organization until one leader has an epiphany of moral reasoning and reveals the truth.

LEADER APPROACH The movie “Flight” starring Denzel Washington centres on an eventful airplane flight that had 106 passengers on board. The plane crashes and two crew members and four passengers tragically lose their lives.

Through the Leader Style Approach the heroics of the accomplished task behaviour of an airline pilot, the ugly truth about his relationship behaviour and the lack of organizational leadership that contaminates the airline company is examined.

A wide array of problems can be identified in relation to the Leadership Grid Model. ORGANIZATIONS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE; A STYLE AND AUTHENTIC
LEADER APPROACH The Blake and Mouton Grid This presentation examines, analyzes and makes recommendations in reference to organizational leadership dynamics in the airline company.

Many lives are affected by lack of leadership management with the flight crew as well as the leadership of other influential people in the airline company.

The tragic event has brought exposure to the lack of effective organizational leadership in the airline company to the surface. The Style Approach Airline Organizational Chart Owner - Avington Carr, the airline company’s owner’s leadership based on the style approach is Authority-Compliance. “The leader is often seen as controlling, demanding, hard driving and overpowering”.

Carr represents the top of the management leader grid and yet he is not concerned about his employees, customers or other stakeholders.

Carr has effectively influenced people in Washington to keep the facts about the safety conduct of his employees from surfacing by having them impede the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation. Authority-Compliance Leadership Style
Upon learning the union’s lawyer has killed the toxicology report, Carr states, “I like this guy, he makes me want to go out and sniff a few lines and fly a jet”.

His concern for his investments and not the quality and safety of others has proved to be extremely ineffective and is responsible for the deep rooted cause of the leadership problem. Ultimately, responsibility for quality, health and safety comes from the very top of the management leader grid, the employer.

Even if Carr claims he did not know that Whip was a drunk he should have had a quality and safety reporting process in place that corrected the problem and kept him informed. This ineffective leadership style will mean responsibility for costly lawsuits for him and the airline company’s Board of Directors. Authority-Compliance Lawyer - Hugh Lang is the union’s lawyer. Hugh asks Whip “Can I do my job on your behalf and kill this tox report”?

Hugh’s leadership based on the style perspective is also Authority-Compliance. This style “describes leaders who are results driven with little or no concern for people except to organize them in a way that keeps them from interfering with getting the job done”.

To keep his clients out of jail whether they are guilty or not he knows how to use his effective leadership task behaviour to challenge policies and procedures for their reliability and subsequent validity. His intentions when leading others do not take into account relationship leadership, ethics or morality. Authority-Compliance Union Rep - Len Caldwell is the airline company’s union president and his style of leadership based on the style approach would be Impoverished Management. “This type of leader goes through the motions of being a leader but acts uninvolved and withdrawn. The leader often has little contact with followers and could be described as indifferent, noncommittal, resigned and apathetic”.

When Whip meets with Hugh and Charlie, Len revealing his Impoverished Management leadership style was noticeably absent. At the executives meeting Len never interacts with Whip in an expected leadership role.

As the leader of the employee union he is supposed to be responsible for protection of the members yet he demonstrates a lack of commitment to his followers making his leadership unproductive. Impoverished Management Leadership Style Union Rep - Charlie Anderson is the employee union rep and his leadership based on the style approach would be Paternalism/Maternalism. “This is the benevolent dictator who acts graciously but does so for the purpose of goal accomplishment”.

Charlie allows Whip to stay with his family but only to help with the task behaviour of policing his sobriety. Charlie, using his paternalism leadership style wants to help Whip as a personal gesture toward an old once admired friend but is also motivated by knowing the impact on the airline company’s employee union if Whip is found guilty of drinking on the job.

Charlie’s ineffective leadership may result in a larger consequence if it is discovered that he purchased cocaine to complete the task behaviour of getting Whip to the inquiry. Paternalism/Maternalism Leadership Style Co-Pilot - Ken Evans is co-piloting that fateful day. Based on the style perceptive, Ken’s leadership is Middle of the Road Management. “This type of leader often is described as one who is expedient, prefers the middle ground, soft-pedals disagreement and swallows convictions in the interest of progress”.

Ken is suspicious of Whips physical state. As the co-pilot Ken could have exercised his ability as a legitimate leader on the flight but does not. He does not use effective task or relationship behaviour to take over operating the plane or to openly address his concerns that Whip is not fit to fly.

Ken masks his opinions and goes along with everyone else allowing Whip to fly the plane.

After the crash Ken tells Whip “That plane was doomed the second you sat in the chair, you reeked of gin or something”. Middle of the Road Leadership Style Ken then makes a conscious decision not to report Whip’s condition to the NTSB because he is convinced that God has a higher plan for Whip.
Ken allows Whip continued alcoholism believing that he is part of a divine plan. Ken’s Middle of the Road Management style is revealed as he decides, like the other crew members, to not model relationship behaviour leadership that demonstrates a concern for the quality and safety of others.
In subsequent law suits it may be exposed that he knew that Whip had been drinking when he was flying the plane, showing negligent leadership. Middle of the Road Flight Crew - Margaret Thomason is the leader of the airline company’s flight attendants on the plane when it crashed. Her leadership based on the style approach is Country Club Management. “They try to create a positive climate by being agreeable, eager to help, comforting and uncontroversial”.
Margaret demonstrates she is capable of effective task behaviour as she helps Whip control the plane. It is her leadership relationship behaviour, that proves ineffective.
She obliges everyone to satisfy their needs and make them happy but does not demand high safety standards for the working environment for her crew or passengers.
In her supervisory role she can be held liable if it is determined that she knew Trina and Whip would not be considered fit to perform their duties. Country Club Membership Leadership Style Flight Crew - Captain Whip Whitaker is the pilot in charge of flying the plane for the airline company when it lost control due to technical problems and crashed. His leadership style at the time based on the style approach was Opportunism. “An opportunistic leader will adapt and shift his or her leadership style to gain personal advantage, putting self-interest ahead of other priorities. Some phrases used to describe this style of leadership include ruthless, cunning and self-motivated, while some could argue that these types of leaders are adaptable and strategic”.

Whip is a complicated, opportunistic leader who adjusts his different styles of leadership as required to expertly perform required tasks behaviour or influence others with relationship behaviour as needed to suit his purpose. Opportunism Leadership Style Pilot - Whip an effective expert task leader finds flying so instinctive he compares flying a commercial jet to playing a video game. Reports confirmed no other pilot could have duplicated with any success a similar outcome that would lead so many to safety.

Whip demonstrated his opportunism leadership with his relationship behaviour as he charms the passengers and crew with his wit and assuring manner while he mixes himself a drink.

Whip adjusts his leadership style from task to relationship as he expertly flies the plane, repeatedly requests for safety measures, such as seat belts, thinks of Margaret’s son and offers her the opportunity for what might be a final goodbye. In the hospital he also tells Harling to stop calling him a hero, remembering that lives were lost, while he consciously makes plans to hide the fact he was drinking. Opportunism Whip uses his opportunism leadership style to manipulate those around him. He confronts and pressures both Evans and Margaret to ask for their help in concealing his drinking on the job in order to protect his self interests.
Whip states “I really want to fly again, get back to my life and be done with all this shit”.

When the investigative team tries to get Whip to say that Trina drank the bottles of vodka, Whip’s moral reasoning controls his leadership style.
Whip understands the supremacy of his statement “I said God help me. Trina did not drink the vodka. She saved a boys life. I did, I drank the vodka. I was drunk. I’m drunk right now”. Opportunism Whip always possessed the psychological factors associated with authentic leadership. “Authentic leadership is a lifelong developmental process, which is formed and informed by each individual’s life story”.
He is confident as he agrees with others that no one could have flown that broken plane the way he did, he optimistically never loses hope that he will be able to land the plane and he is resilient as he tries to find a way to recover from the crash, hide his drinking and go on with his life amidst all his pain and suffering.
The tragic event triggers a change in his leadership style revealing an authentic leader who is not afraid to be an open and honest, sharing with others how he feels and how he thinks (relational transparency).
Speaking as a mentor to influence other inmates to improve their lives and learn from his revelations, he tells them that he has never felt freer. Authentic Leadership – Psychological Factors Through self inspection and the tragic consequences for his crimes, Whip makes a conscious transformation of his behaviour and traits to reveal an authentic leader, best described as a developmental perspective of Authentic leadership.

He has plenty of time to impose self-discipline and reflect on his true feelings, core values and discover who he is (self-awareness).

He is sober and does not allow the pressures of drinking to influence his behaviour (internalized moral perspective).

He takes time to consider others and how his past behaviour has affected their lives due to substance abuse (balanced processing). Developmental Perspective
Organizational leadership dynamics allowed substance abuse to be unchallenged resulting in a pilot being able to captain a jet airline plane while intoxicated.
Companies need to train and educate leaders to be Team Management Style leaders, adjusting their leadership approach as needed to eliminate similar tragedies. The team management style integrates high concerns for people and for production. From the style perspective the team leader: stimulates participation, acts determined, gets issues into the open, makes priorities clear, follows through, behaves open-mindedly and enjoys working.
Leadership that focuses on increasing productivity, improving morale and gaining employee commitment useful in helping managers identify and change ineffective leadership behaviours.

Team Management Style Leadership Recommendations, are too late for this airline company as they will surely suffer the consequences of destroyed lives, finances and reputation.
In support of Team Management leadership behaviours, protocols and policies for quality and safety must be enacted, understood and complied with so that all staff from the Chairman of the Board to the entry level positions are held accountable to a higher quality and safety standard.

The style approach supports the fact that “linking employee engagement and empowerment with leadership and measurement is the best guarantor of success”. Recommendations
The Grid identifies two dimensions of leader behaviour. The first on the y-axis, is concern for people (accommodating people’s needs and giving them priority), the second on the x-axis is the concern for production (getting results), achieving organizational goals).

The theory is that leaders can use the grid to assess their current style and then take steps to move towards the ideal leadership profile (9,9) with the result being strengthened individual and corporate effectiveness.
Blake and Mouton Leadership Grid

Blake and Mouton Grid
Source: Management Study Guide (2012) These Style leadership task and relationship behaviours, if used effectively in the right situations by the leaders of the airline company, may have helped a valuable employee with his debilitating illness instead of enabling him to continue in his self-destruction that caused devastation in the lives of others and eventually for the airline company.

Although it is recognized that Whip’s abilities as an airline pilot did not cause the crash and in fact probably saved the lives of passengers and crew, responsible employers and employees need to understand that this type of opportunistic leadership behaviour left unchecked can result in the ultimate ruin of an organization.

In this case the airline company’s ultimate demise will be due to the perception and subsequent proof that the organization’s leadership failed individually and as a team to fulfill their roles and responsibilities. Conclusion References

Dr. E. Speers, Ryerson University online. CHMR 640 instructor course materials 
Dr . T.F . Gautschi, P. E. (1989). Leadership Grid Plots Managers. Management Forum  
Gruman, J. & Saks, A. (2011). Performance Management and Employee Engagement. Human Resource Management Review, 21: pp. 123-136.
Mouton, J. (1978). The New Managerial Grid. Houston: Gulf Publishing Company. 
Northouse, P. (2013). Leadership Theory and Practice Sixth Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Inc., pp. 75-97 
Lewis, C. T. (1993). Conflict Management: The Essence of Leadership. Leadership Studies 
Rowe, G., Guerrero L. Cases in Leadership Third Edition, Thousand Oaks,
CA: SAGE Publications Inc., pp. 103-130
Townsend, P. & Gebhardt, J. (2008). Employee Engagement Completely. Human Resource Management International Digest. Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 22-24.
Zemeckis, R. (Director). (2012). Flight [Motion Picture]

Ryerson University Leadership Project Group # 6
Vhanathi Baskaran, Denise Dicks, Tia Levan, Ryan Sobolewski, Thivaharan Vijayasegaran


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