The Loss of Teamwork Led to Tragedy

Adrianne DuMond

The poignant revelations about what went on in the cockpit before the Asiana Flight #214 hit the sea wall at San Francisco International Airport support the knowledge we know about teamwork. The junior pilot sitting in the jump seat voiced the opinion they were too slow for the landing. His observations went unneeded. Additional interviews with the four pilots in the cockpit led the National Transportation Safety Board ( NTSB ) to question the communication habits in the cockpit — were the pilots working as a team? The question of hierarchy and authority practices was raised. An American pilot interviewed later stressed how important it is and how much they are trained to always work as a team in the cockpit. In their training these concepts are known as Cockpit Resource Management.

When I read this my mind immediately jumped to recent quotes by Dr. Daniel Goldman, the pioneer of Emotional Intelligence. He recently said, ” There are sets of leadership competencies that set the best performers apart from the average, that build on basics – e.g., self-regulation is the basis for the discipline to achieve goals “( land a plane), “to be adaptable” ( listen to input from others),” and remain calm and clear under pressure”.

Emotional Intelligence embraces both self-regulation and self-mastery -important skills for team leadership. One must be aware of self – behaviors, motivations, emotional triggers, questionable habits, constructive practices – in order to lead or be part of a successful team. Giving up rank or self importance might have allowed Flight #214 to land safely. Of course the final investigation may reveal other shortcomings. But this accident revealed so publicly and graphically how important are solid team skills that I was struck by the example to Daniel Goldman’s work.

Author:  Adrianne DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org