Thursday, June 18, 2009

Success, Heroes and Learning Styles

Do you remember Pilot C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger? He is the captain who successfully landed his plane, full of passengers, in the Hudson River earlier this year? His quick decision and skill saved 155 lives.

Nevertheless, his solution was totally outside the box. The air-traffic controller who handled the flight thought landing in the river would be a death sentence for all aboard. "People don't survive landings on the Hudson River," 10-year veteran controller Patrick Harten said afterwards.

So what went right? Sullenberger said in an interview afterwards that his success could be ascribed to the years of training. It was part of his job to school other pilots to react under extreme conditions such as plane malfunctions, so he had played many fictitious scenarios of recovering a plane from an apparently disastrous situation.

What kind of a learning style profile can we expect from a person like C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger? (A learning style is the unique set of preferences and non-preferences that determines the optimal way in which an individual concentrates and works.)

“Very flexible,” answers Barbara Prashnig, an international expert on learning styles. “A person who doesn’t freeze in such an extreme situation is probably somebody who is able to receive and interpret information in a number of ways.”

The pilot’s learning style was probably very flexible. What is your learning style?

Incidentally, the same pilot has recently spoken up against pay cuts for professional pilots. He argued that pay cuts would drive experienced pilots away from the cockpit, leaving airlines and passengers more exposed to risk when things go wrong. That’s one recession lesson every employer should be taking on board: hold on to in-house expertise.

So, if do have to let some staff go, how do you choose? You need to know whose working style is best suited to the job. Learn more about Working Styles.

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