Imagine piloting a 22-ton fighter jet at 500 miles per hour in a formation so close you could literally reach out and touch the plane next to you. When the Blue Angels thunder overhead in one of their signature formations at an air show, they do exactly that – accomplishing this rare feat separated by a mere 36 inches. When they practice, they get even closer, flying within 18 inches of each other.
The Blue Angels exhibit an astonishing level of precision, teamwork and trust under the most unforgiving circumstances. To sustain their elite performance, pilots discuss the results of each flight in total honesty: from executing a perfectly-timed snap roll at high altitude to the way each team member marches on the runway. This is called the “Glad to be Here Debrief,” and while it’s central to the culture of the Blue Angels, it has also inspired businesses around the world to achieve an elite level of success.
A transformational mindset
Owning an attitude of gratitude while working toward a greater purpose is the “Glad to be Here” mindset shared by all members of the Blue Angels. “Glad to be Here” sometimes means having gratitude for the rare opportunity to fly with the world’s most elite pilots. Other times, it’s gratitude for being alive.
John Foley, who thrilled audiences worldwide as a pilot with the Blue Angels, adapted “Glad to be Here” for business, establishing a framework where any team – including yours — can support a high-performance culture, sustain excellence and continuously improve. CCB was so inspired by “Glad to be here” that we invited Foley to be the leadership speaker at the CCB TechShowcase coming up on April 12 at Miller Park, so he can teach how “Glad to be Here” can be applied to your business.
8 ways “Glad to be Here” inspires CCB
1. Celebrate your victories
We all know that people are capable of learning from their mistakes, but they can learn just as much when you recognize and celebrate their victories. In the “Glad to be Here Debrief” everyone takes a turn to recognize the positive contributions of others. For the Blue Angels, learning what went well is actionable information that also helps the team stay positive, even when things go wrong.
2. Embrace dissenting opinions
“Agreeing to disagree” is just another barrier preventing you from engaging in the kind of discussion that leads to results. Instead of agreeing to dissent, try identifying common ground — it builds unity and leads to new opportunities. When the Blue Angels debrief, they practice empathy in order to overcome disagreement. Foley always wanted to know what was important to his teammates on a core level, so he knew how to engage them no matter what the discussion entailed.
3. Adopt a mindset of humility
Holding the needs of others in higher regard than your own is the foundation of humility. When you practice humility, your employees can walk away from stressful conversations with their self-esteem intact — and a greater ability to concentrate on what’s next. Foley said pilots measured their words carefully during the debrief, so that even the most intense discussions contributed to team unity and mutual respect.
4. Create a safe environment for discussion
When the Blue Angels debrief, everyone removes the rank from their uniform and puts it on the table in order to focus on results. When employees are no longer worried their opinions will be out-ranked by leadership, they’ve entered a safe environment for discussion. Communication that drives results comes when everyone is capable of sharing their opinions without fear.
5. Accountability is constructive – not destructive
When Foley joined the Blue Angels, he was told he had to improve his flight skills by 300 percent in three months. It was a daunting task, but when the bar was raised, the Blue Angels helped him clear it. Set a realistic, but challenging goal for your team, and hold them accountable to achieve it — without micromanaging. When you set the bar high and reinforce your team with encouragement, you’re on the path of high performance.
6. Check your ego at the door
Foley understood that Blue Angel pilots could easily develop big egos, but he was struck at how open they were to ideas that later proved vital to the team’s success. Just because you are a leader, doesn’t mean you always have the right answers. You may have the final say on decisions, but when you check your ego at the door, you’re open to actionable information wherever it appears.
— CCB Technology (@ccbtechnology) March 4, 2016
7. Your attitude is your choice
Foley begins each day with gratitude for being alive, gratitude for the events of yesterday and planting seeds of gratitude for the day ahead. There will be times when the only thing you have control over is your attitude – so make it a great one! No matter what challenges you face, adopting a “Glad to be Here” attitude means your resolve to push through difficulties is constructively rooted in gratitude.
8. Own it and fix it
Admitting your mistakes (even the ones nobody knows about) opens up an opportunity to learn and improve. Foley once made a potentially deadly mistake when he was distracted for less than one second during an air show in San Francisco. He corrected the mistake in flight without anyone noticing, but later admitted it — and promised to fix it — during the debrief. That said a lot about his character, and gave his team a higher level of trust. Ultimately, it made Foley and his team better.
Now that you’ve read about John Foley, “Glad to be Here” and how it inspires CCB, you might want to know how “Glad to be Here” can help your business reach the next level. It’s common knowledge that a misaligned team will struggle to reach its goal, but committing to a “Glad to be Here” mindset as John Foley suggests, will lead to increased trust, alignment, chemistry and team results.
How good do you want to be?
John Foley presented “Glad to be Here” live on stage at the CCB TechShowcase on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at Miller Park as our featured leadership speaker. CCB TechShowcase – billed as the largest (and most exciting) IT event in Wisconsin, is a free event for IT Pros and Business Leaders who want more out of their IT.
Meet CCB and discover what makes us “Glad to be Here.”