Distant Leadership

The #LockdownLeadership series hosted by Hannah Wilson is a collection of anonymous blogs about leadership during these uncertain times. This was my contribution

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For a ‘hands on, roll your sleeves up, get in there’ type of person, having to support schools from a distance has been challenging. As a chair of governors there should always be an element of standing back but never as far away as in recent weeks.

How do I feel?

Well, we were due to go to Singapore, New Zealand & Bangkok at the start of lockdown so I suppose flying is on my mind. So, please imagine the analogy of an aeroplane with the captain being the HT, the crew being the staff & the passengers being the children. This would leave the governing board as air traffic control making sure there are no obstacles in the way of a smooth flight.

So, as we began lockdown my aeroplanes were in good condition. They had all had H&S checks, were fully refuelled & the captains knew where they were taking the passengers. It was not the journey they thought they would be taking but my airline is very flexible & is used to last minute changes.

The journey begins & whilst there are not as many passengers on the flight as we would have liked, because it is for school children, packs of learning have been sent out to those not on board so that they don’t miss too much of the experience. All is well & even the weather is being kind with blue skies & sunshine. At traffic control we have regular meetings to make sure everything is still safe & secure.

Suddenly the whole craft shudders. Those on board hold on & wait for a message from the captain which is soon heard over the tannoy assuring that everything is fine. Meanwhile on the flight deck there are calls to traffic control. What has happened? Traffic control is not able to give a definitive answer but has looked at the guidance that has come in from other airports. The crew have also been sent information & between them they try to plan the best detour to make sure that not only they reach ground safely, but they can accommodate additional passengers.

This exercise will take some calculating as the aircraft has to continue with its present cargo & the additional passengers will have to be taken on board in mid-air. This manoeuvre has never been tried before so there are no blueprints for the captain & traffic control to refer to.

My airline is privileged to have exceptional people working for it. Not only do they do their jobs well, but they are creative & enthusiastic & are not prepared to be beaten by this challenging task. Plans are drawn up. Traffic control agree they are as robust as possible for this stage in the journey. The whole company is feeling comfortable with the next leg of the route which we should start on 1st June.

So, how do I feel? From the tower in traffic control we have worried about the turbulence that has accompanied the flight but have been able to reassure the passengers and their loved ones waiting at home. At this point I have no idea when the flights will reach their normal destinations but I’m damned sure my planes will not crash!

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