I took the photo above near my house on October 16 when the United States Navy Blue Angels® performed two shows that weekend. As a veteran of both the Marine Corps and Air Force, I loved watching the precision movements demonstrated by the pilots as they flew their F/A-18 Hornets. I also enjoyed watching “Fat Albert,” the Marine Corps C-130 as they too performed maneuvers in their four-engine aircraft. The sound of the fighter jet afterburners and the drone of the C-130 engines has always thrilled me.
The Marine Corps and Navy pilots form part of a team of dedicated, skilled, and highly qualified individuals. They are also the ones drawing the most attention from the crowds and news media. Yet, the pilots are part of the team. Other members of the team are the unseen officers functioning in aircraft maintenance, administration, aviation medicine, public affairs, and supply. Furthermore, approximately one-hundred enlisted Marines and Sailors also comprise the Blue Angels team and very few of them are in public view.
They are senior enlisted members and personnel serving in maintenance, crew coordination, administration, medicine, events coordination, public affairs, supply, and video. Additionally, a cadre of five, civilian technical advisors are also out of the public view.1 What I described is only the military portion of the airshow. Behind the scenes are hundreds of support personnel including airshow organizers, airport staff, air traffic controllers, firefighters, law enforcement, etc.
Neither the Blue Angels nor any other military aircraft would leave the ground without the tireless efforts of those supporting the mission. In John Maxwell’s book, The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, he writes about the Law of the Niche and states, “All players have a place where they add the most value.”2
Everyone supporting the mission of the Blue Angels adds value to the team and they contribute to the success of each flight exhibition. When the pilots climb into the cockpit of their jet fighters, they are placing their trust, safety, and lives in the hands of everyone who had a part in getting the aircraft off the ground. In my book The Furnace of Leadership Development, I wrote that integrity, trust, and credibility form a triad of strength. “They coexist, grow, and develop in unison. Remove one or the other and the triad collapses.”3 When the triad collapses teamwork erodes. The results are low morale, mediocre performance, behavioral issues, missed deadlines, apathetic attitudes, bad customer service, and the list goes on.
How would you describe your team?
Are they a resolute and motivated group of individuals like the Blue Angels or are they more like a roller derby team going around in circles trying to knock each other over? Which would you prefer? Even if your team is more like the Blue Angels, could they function at higher levels? Reach out to me and let’s discuss how I can assist you in building and developing a better performing team.
1”The Blue Angels Team,” United States Navy Blue Angels®, accessed October 26, 2021, https://www.blueangels.navy.mil/team/
2Maxwell, John C., The 17 Indisputable Laws of Leadership (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2001), 32
3Davis, Richard W., The Furnace of Leadership Development (Loveland, CO: Java House Publishing, 2019), 23