Build a Business Aviation Dream Team Using The Birkman Method

Author By Steve Brechter
Birkman Method - Business aviation dream team

The English author E.M.Forster once said, “One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.”

What does passion have to do with team building in business aviation? Everything.

We all know that it’s easy to build a high-performing team if you are able to handpick your team members. But that’s not the way business usually works.

For a multitude of reasons, much of the time you’ve got to “make it happen” by playing the hand you’re dealt, with the team you already have in place.

So how do you turn a well-intentioned but sometimes moderately-performing team into a high-performing business aviation “dream team?”

One very important means is by taking full advantage of passion,which is accomplished by engaging and aligning the passions and interests of your team members with the goals and objectives of the organization.

Activities that align with a person’s passions are energy creators. They create seemingly boundless energy. Activities that don’t align with a person’s passions are energy drains. These are the things you dread doing and generally “put-off until later.” You usually try to avoid them at all costs.

As a business aviation leader, the secret is to involve your people, to the extent possible, inactivities that are energy creators for them. When you align their passions with the needs of the organization, all you’ll need to do is get out of their way. They’ll take it from there.

Build a Dream Team Based on Passion and Interest

Some people are very clear about their passions and interests, while others can benefit from some type of self-discovery.

One very effective tool that we at Gray Stone Advisors use to help someone discover or reaffirm their passions and interests is an instrument called The Birkman Method®.

The Birkman Method is a multi-dimensional assessment that integrates all three elements of a person together into one report, specifically, their Interests, Style and Needs.

In Birkman terminology, “Interests” are what a person is passionate about, “Style”is how a person shows up day-to-day and “Needs” are what they want coming back from the world around them.

Said differently, “Interests”are what we like to do, “Style” is how we like to do it and “Needs” are where we like to do it in terms of the ideal environment. Let’s take a look at how to determine a person’s interests using The Birkman Method.


Using The Birkman Method to Determine Interest

We can determine “Interest” by using the entry report in The Birkman Method, called the Lifestyle Grid. There are many other reports and insights generated from The Birkman Method, but the Lifestyle Grid is where it all starts.

Once a person completes the questionnaire for The Birkman Method, literally dozens of reports are available.


The Birkman Method Lifestyle Grid

The Lifestyle Grid is a quadrant consisting of four colors with a person’s specific Interest, Style and Needs points overlaid upon it. The four colors are blue, green, red and yellow and here’s what they mean in terms of Interests:

Blue – The color of planning. People with blue interests like to focus on ideas. They are innovators, they are creative, intuitive and tend to be subjective and spend time in reflection.

Green – The color of communication. People with green interests like to focus on selling and persuading, promoting and motivating, as well as counseling and teaching.

Red—The color of expediting. People with red interests like to focus on solving real problems, achieving tangible results and working in the physical world.

Yellow – The color of organizing. People with yellow interests like to focus on rules and procedures, as well as numbers and details.They like consistency and are very careful about what they do and what gets done around them.


On the Lifestyle Grid, a person’s interests are identified by the diamond symbol. In the graph above,the diamond is in the green quadrant. What does that say about the person’s interests? Referring to the second bullet above, you’ll see that this person enjoys activities that involve communication, motivating, selling and persuading.


Putting The Birkman to Use

OK, let’s say that your business aviation leadership team has just completed The Birkman Method and everyone has received their results. Since the results of an assessment like this are intended to be confidential, the first step is to get everyone’s permission to share their results with you.

As their leader, you must assure them that sharing their results is for development and growth purposes only,and that only positive outcomes will result from doing so.

Now, let’s also say that you and your leadership team have just returned from an offsite meeting during which time you’ve established your “next year” goals for the flight department.

Finally, let’s say that among the top goals you’ve established are:

  1. Develop a set of metrics that clearly articulate the value created by your business aviation operation,
  2. Establish a 3-year strategic business plan for aviation,
  3. Conduct a customer satisfaction survey to measure how well you’re meeting the needs of your frequent executive travelers, and
  4. Create a LOFT system for assessment purposes among your flight operations group.


These are intended to be collateral duties for your leadership team members and you’re trying to determine who should lead each effort. How can you determine the most appropriate leadership team member to lead each objective, in order to achieve the best “fit” in terms of their interests?

Let’s take the first objective, the metrics development. Who might that be a good fit for? Wouldn’t the best fit be for the person with yellow interests? Their interest in systems, procedures and numbers make this project an excellent “fit” for them.

How about the 3-year strategic plan? Sounds like a shoe-in for the planner, the person who is interested in innovation and planning(e.g., blue interests).

The customer satisfaction survey? That’s a great project for someone who has green communication interests to reach out and connect with the senior executive travelers.

And the LOFT assessment sounds like a terrific project for a person with red interests, who is interested intangible results and working in the physical world.

It’s important to note that The Birkman Method is in no way intended to be a measure of skill. You can learn to do whatever you want. It is more than likely, though, that people are going to be best at things they like to do, because they will naturally spend more time doing them.

Time and again we at Gray Stone Advisors have seen the power of “fit,” both in our individual careers and in our current practice. And, we’ve seen extraordinary results emerge from teams when Interest is aligned with the organizational task at hand.

We urge you to try this approach yourself. You’ll see your team produce results as they’re never done before.

Other Approaches?

If you have other ways in which you’ve aligned personal “fit” to organizational objective within your business aviation organization, we’d like to hear about them. Share them with us in the comments section below.