Capt. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger on Leadership and Innovation

Once in a while you come across someone so inspirational and so in tune with your own values that you need to introduce them to your world.

We had the privilege of hearing Miracle on the Hudson, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger deliver the closing KeyNote at Smartsheet ENGAGE in Bellevue, Washington.

The audience sat spellbound as we listened to the cockpit recording and watched actual video coverage of the miraculous landing.

Sully not only recalled his experiences during those agonising few minutes, when his decisions and actions led to the survival of 155 passengers and crew but he shared his insights on leadership and how we treat and think about others.

He talked about his values and how those values shaped his decision making processes that day.

Below are some of his quotations which we can all learn from and apply to our business and daily lives

About Education

“I had the good fortune to grow up in a safe, stable environment, in which education was valued, ideas were important and striving for excellence was expected.

What I’ve tried to do in my life, and what I’d encourage others to do is never stop investing in yourselves. Never stop learning; never stop growing professionally or personally.

As the pace of change globally only accelerates, most of us cannot get through an entire working lifetime with only a single skill set. Instead we must keep on learning, growing, stretching ourselves, sometimes reinventing ourselves, as I’ve certainly had to.

About Innovation

“My favorite definition of innovation is actually a very simple one: Change before you are forced to, by competition, by regulation or circumstance. And the more and quicker you’re able to do that, the better you are able to turn adversity into opportunity. And that’s true whether you are facing a sudden crisis or a sudden possibility.”

About Critical Thinking

On the importance of critical thinking: “We have an obligation as citizens to be intellectually curious. And to act on that.

We have to be literate, and we have to be scientifically literate. We shouldn’t forget that the purpose of science is to provide humankind with a more complete and accurate understanding of reality, and that is an inherently altogether worthwhile thing to do.

In other words, if you don’t understand the data you can’t use it. So we have to be capable of independent, critical thought. We need to be good citizens and make important decisions based on facts, not fears or falsehoods and certainly not on big lies even if they are told loudly and often.”

About Leadership

“It’s the responsibility of leadership to create the culture, create the environment in which we can and are willing to do our best work.

To do that, you need to do two things: you need to remove barriers. You need to arm them with the skills, the tools they need. The human skills not just the technical skills. Be able to create and lead teams and make decisions to manage the workload, and you also need to share in the success.

Every once in awhile, everyone who works with you or for you needs to needs to know in some substantial way, that the hard work they’ve done has contributed to the success of the organization.”

Wise words from a truly inspiration man