Situational Awareness: Leading in an Uncertain World

Situational Awareness In Leadership

Current events have certainly revealed the challenges of leading in uncertain times and in this episode, former F-15E Fighter pilot-turned-CEO and current leadership consultant Brandon Williams discusses how to lead teams through difficulties, using knowledge learned in the military, specifically through employment of “Situational Awareness”. Here, we'll explore:

  • How the military and the corporate worlds share common skills;
  • How employing tactical skills can help mitigate human error;
  • Key aspects of Situational Awareness Leadership ; and
  • Three critical leadership capabilities all leaders should keep front-of-mind.
How To Improve Situational Awareness At Work

Brandon Williams

   Leadership    Training

“When you think about leadership, you have to really tap into the tactical aspect, the human factors. What does complexity do to humans? We’re not designed for it, it drives human error and situational awareness leadership, the whole idea of that, is how we as leaders help mitigate that human error."

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The Military World and the Corporate World

  • After transitioning into the corporate world, Mr. Williams was surprised at how many C-suite executives didn’t have basic leadership skills or knowledge that was so common in the military. 
  • The leadership skills that are taught and learned in the military are extremely useful in the corporate world. 
  • Additionally, as a pilot in the Air Force, Mr. WIlliams quickly learned the importance of autonomy and accountability, which he sees as crucial to corporate success.
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Lead Tac

  • Mr. Williams’ experience in the Air Force inspired him to found the leadership development firm Lead Tac.  
  • Leadership is a tactical function. Lead Tac stands for Leading Tactically. 
  • Lead Tac deals with the ways human factors and human error play into leadership. 
  • Humans struggle with complexity. Complex situations bring about human error, and Lead Tac helps companies mitigate that human error. 
  • “When you think about leadership, though, you have to really tap into the tactical aspect, the human factors. What does complexity do to humans? We’re not designed for it, it drives human error and situational awareness leadership, the whole idea of that, is how we as leaders help mitigate that human error." 

Leading During Uncertain Times

  • Humans don’t like uncertainty. We are wired to work in predictable and certain environments. So when we encounter uncertainty, things can go poorly. 
  • When uncertainty strikes, good leaders:
    • Stay calm. 
    • Trust in their people.
    • Empower and motivate their people. 
  • Lead Tac helps leaders deal with and prepare for uncertain times. 

Situational Awareness Leadership

  • Situational Awareness is the awareness of your surroundings. It’s about knowing what’s going on around you, wherever you are. It’s a popular term in the self-defense industry and Mr. Williams learned about it as a pilot, but it’s also applicable to leadership. 
  • Lead Tac offers a program on Situational Awareness Leadership.
  • If leaders and their teams practice situational awareness, they can be better prepared for uncertainty. 
  • Situational Awareness Leadership is about being proactive instead of reactive. You have to be thinking ahead of what’s in front you. If you take the steps to prepare for a negative turn of events, you’ll handle it much more effectively. 
  • Three critical leadership capabilities all leaders should keep front-of-mind:
    • Autonomy: leaders have to give their people autonomy. People need to be able to make decisions on their own, without needing orders to follow. This was especially important for Mr. Williams in the military. 
    • Accountability: Accountability is so much more than the high school principal giving you detention. Accountability among peers is extremely important. 
      • In the worst-performing teams, there’s no accountability.
      • In mediocre teams, the bosses/supervisors hold their people accountable.
      • In the most high-performing teams, peers hold each other accountable. They don’t want to let each other down. 
    • Alignment: everyone has to be aligned with their organization’s intent. 
      • Commander’s intent is a desire to instate what the commander/leader wants to accomplish. 
      • Leaders and employees should always have their organization’s intent and goals in their minds in everything they do.  

Demonstrating Situational Awareness as A Leader

  • Leaders have to hold themselves accountable and admit when they’re wrong or don’t know the answer. Anyone at any level, even the most junior team member, might have the solution to a problem. 
  • Leaders need to set clear expectations.
  • Leaders should also know what’s happening in their marketplace and what their competition is doing.
  • Leaders can’t get complacent. 

Situational Awareness in Normal Times  

  • Staying aware helps you avoid complacency. 
  • Leaders can’t afford to sit back and think that everything’s fine. 
  • “A little bit of healthy paranoia is good sometimes.”

Situational Awareness at Lead Tac  

  • Lead Tac’s mission is to drive leaders of high-performing teams through situational awareness leadership.
  • They accomplish this through keynotes, workshops, and leadership development.
  • Lead Tac tailors their training to each organization that they work with.  
  • They teach leaders how to be situationally aware and prepare for the next crisis. 

Brandon Williams Backstory

  • BS in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Air Force Academy
  • MS in Aeronautical Science and Aviation Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University 
  • Mr. Williams served in the US Air Force as an F-15E Fighter Pilot, Officer, and Instructor. After twelve years in active duty, he transitioned to the Air Force Reserves, where he’s served since 2012.
  • He is an adjunct professor at a number of institutions, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, LeTourneau University, Kansas State University, Saint Louis University, Florida Institute of Technology, and Liberty University Online Programs.
  • He’s also worked as a B737 First Officer for Delta Air Lines since 2014.

  • Additionally, Mr. Williams is a speaker and executive management consultant at Afterburner. He is also the founder and CEO of Lead Tac, a leadership consulting firm specializing in leadership development.

Contact

Lead Tac’s website.

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About the Author Jacqueline Gregory

As a creative, persuasive communications professional with extensive experience guiding projects from concept through completion Jacqui has produced custom communications for some of the world's best known brands. Producing ProjectHR has been one of her favorite ways to engage and delight HR and Labor Relations professionals!

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