Deadly Pilot Errors – Lessons For Managing People’s Emotional Intelligence

Some managers in companies do not face dire consequences for errors like airline pilots.

Some managers do more subtly put their employees in danger by not developing their own emotional intelligence nor the emotional intelligence of their employees.

December 29, 1972: Eastern Air Lines Flight, 101 crashed into the Florida Everglades.

101 people died.

It was the first crash of a wide-body aircraft.

The deadliest crash in the United States.

Fact: People crash perfectly functioning machines.

Fact: 97% of crashes are due to human error.

How’d it happen?

The two pilots noticed the landing gear light flashing. They assumed a major malfunction. They also assumed that the plane was on autopilot.

It was – until the co-pilot hit a reset switch to try and fix the gear light. The light kept flashing. The pilots, assuming the plane was still on autopilot, became totally focused on the flashing gear light. That is, until the plane was 88 feet from the ground. They finally looked up – in shock.

Too late. 101 dead people!

Poor pilot self-awareness, inability to mange oneself, lack of team skills, low leader assertiveness caused that crash — all symptoms of low emotional intelligence.

The gruesome scenes at the Smolensk air crash last week have stunned Europeans, and certainly many more people world-wide.

Air disasters are a macabre experience. Understandably, we frequent fliers find them troubling.

Daniel Goleman identified the crucial management issues at the core of air disasters years ago in his leading edge work on Emotional Intelligence.

Australian flight crews have an enviable safety record.


Because of their lack of deference to authority. The ability and willingness of junior staff to speak up and warn of impending danger — all signs of good emotional intelligence.

Flight crews that are the most dangerous? The ones where macho pilots do not have the ability or willingness to listen to advice. Ones where rigid hierarchy, deference to authority and emotional coldness lead to vital messages being ignored or blown off — indicators of low emotional intelligence.

While most managers and the companies who run them do not serve up such obviously tragic consequences, the outcomes are the same: costly mistakes, poor communication, loss of customers, shrinking margins and increasing sales cycles as customers no longer trust their suppliers.

Here is one small, personal example of how training customer service people in emotional Intelligence pays off at Apple.

I recent bought a MacBookPro. Three weeks later Apple came out with an upgraded one.

Egads! I thought, I want the new one.

I phoned Apple told them of my request. long story short they arranged for me to send back my computer — shipping charges paid for by Apple. I’m getting the new one.

But the real story is how I was treated in the transaction — with respect, as a valued customer that they want to keep for the long-term.

Now that’s what I call corporate emotional intelligence.

A word to the wise should be sufficient. Educate people into higher emotional intelligence.

Source by Dr. Jim Sellner Ph.D.

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