We don’t want engineers

We don’t want engineers, we want people who can engineer. We don’t want pilots, we want people who know how to fly.

It’s a subtle difference but the language matters.

When I was on the client side of the table, I knew that every respondent to my RFP could do the technical work. Everyone was a licensed professional. They knew the ACs. They had similar experience. How do you choose? It wasn’t because of the glossy submittal or the shiny interview. I was looking for something else. I was evaluating humanity. I wanted people who could work well with other people. People who could explain engineering to non-engineers. People who could empathize with the public. People who could see the larger picture. I wasn’t looking for an engineer, I was looking for people (first) who could engineer (second).

Same thing with pilots. Technical skill matters for sure! Everyone in the interview, though, has passed the bar for technical skill. So, how should the airline decide? I have a clue: it’s probably going to be based on the person. Not what you have done but who you are.

Stop impressing me with your CV. You wouldn’t be in the room if I didn’t think you could technically do the work. Make it about who you are, how you do things, and your philosophy. I will be listening.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on May 28, 2020

You Might Also Like…

The sound of your work eulogy

What would your work eulogy sound like? Maybe that opener sounds a bit morbid. The idea isn't about dying, it's about...

The 737-MAX has a trust problem

The 737-MAX is back in action! Now, if you had to board one tonight how you feel? Would it soothe you to know that the...

How gracious can you be?

How gracious can you be? That email with just enough snark. The person who is 10 minutes late to your virtual meeting....

A-Players consistently invest in themselves. Take the next step.