Are You A Leader?


Are You A Leader? ~Guest Blogger Bob Meder NAFI Chairman Emeritus

I recently had a great conversation with a good friend regarding leadership. What impressed me was that it wasn't the usual platitudes attempting to define what a good leader is, but instead contained a few of my friend's more down-to-earth observations.

  • "Do you love your people enough to want to help them and help them grow?"

  • "A good leader gives his followers small tasks at first, making those tasks incrementally more challenging and larger. This will cause your followers to grow and get better at their jobs, making them leaders as well."

  • "A great leader is someone who will crawl through the mud to give someone a clean dish towel if they need it."

Editors Note: Watch this short video by Simon Sinek about being a leader. He sums up perfectly how being a leader is difficult to quantify, but is a sum of your actions shown over time.


Flight instructors are leaders. By the very nature of the learning and instructor pilot relationship, it has to be that way. Even if it's two peers flying together, the moment one takes on the instructing role, the relationship shifts to one where the instructor is leading the way. That does not mean that there's anything necessarily overt happening or, perhaps worse and very artificially, the instructor saying, "I am your leader- follow." In fact being overt or obtuse like that will likely get a very negative response.

Instead, these things should happen organically. Think about your best instructors and teachers. They led. Not by being declarative, but by giving you new and challenging tasks, building on previous ones, where successes were their own rewards. These instructors obviously cared about how well you did and your growth as a person. Naturally, this led you to want to do better, which further encouraged your teacher/instructor to challenge you further, and so on.

Do you remember an instructor who would "crawl through the mud" for you? I've had several, although the "mud" was figurative. I remember Mrs. Moreaux, my English teacher when I was a junior in high school, finding out that I was getting poor grades in Algebra. She discussed it with me and finally said, "Well, I guess you won't get into college anyway." That got me onto the Dean's list. Or Rick Albrecht, whom I've mentioned before, saying, when I got frustrated during my instrument training, "You can't quit - you've worked too hard and I know where you live.". These are but two examples.

So, if you're ever a bit embarrassed that a new student is hanging on your every word, or if you find yourself caring about a client, don't be. It merely means that you're fulfilling the role that your leaders - parents, teachers, and instructors - led you to fulfill.

Robert Meder Chairman headshotBob Meder
NAFI Chairman Emeritus
NAFI #18567






Blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace independent, professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinions or position of the National Association of Flight Instructors. NAFI does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented. Readers should note content may appear in various media, including print, email, enews without further notice.
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