Effective Communications with Your Principal

Author By Jim Lara

Helping our modest size aviation organizations thrive is one of my true passions at Gray Stone Aviation Advisors.  Over half of the NBAA membership fits into this category. Yet, we, as an industry, have failed to aggressively develop leaders in this segment.  I believe this lack of development has led to high turnover rates and a general sub-optimization of performance. 

We can do much better if it becomes a priority.

I recently spoke to this issue on a podcast for the NBAA. It aired April 12, 2021. Listen to it here.

Let’s distill the many ways you can communicate with your A.R.E. (Aviation Reporting Executive,) High Net Worth Owner or Principal into those three that will have an immediate effect and make you shine.

I. First off – start with the answer. When you are asked a question where you have to think on your feet – or even if you have time to think it through, respond in this sequence: a) restate the question you just heard asked of you, b) provide your answer in a clear, declarative sentence or two, without a bit of hedging. Short and simple.

Be as forthright as you can. Use few words, think of what your boss wants to know and then give him/her that short, calm, concise answer. If more of an explanation or further detail is needed, there will be time for an interchange that he/she then invites.

II. Asking for a meeting with your higher up? Provide an outline or agenda in advance. Limit your planned discussion to three topics maximum. Absolutely provide a written agenda 24 hours in advance of the meeting. Keep to that very agenda and again, don’t go off topic. If you need a framework to stay on course, a 3 to 5 slide PowerPoint deck may serve you well. Be sure your principal has a screen in the office and that it’s set up before you arrive for the meeting!

III. Use a ‘Relevancy Litmus Test’ or RLT. Are you about to lay something on your principal that you care a lot about, but that he/she doesn’t? On the other hand, are you about to preach to the choir? Maybe you are looking for a rubber stamp on something that could be handled a couple of department layers down the chain?

Ask yourself this before you ask the boss anything:  So What?

Why will he/she care? What’s in it for him/her? What is the payoff for the company/the principal? Think of all the benefits to bring up, in priority order. What’s that priority order? What he/she cares most about!

Also present your information/request in plain English – no lingo! Make a case for what you want in layman’s terms or vernacular that they understand.

In conclusion: you want what you are requesting of your superior. How will you achieve success? Act with the end in mind. Presenting topics of conversation professionally and logically will ultimately benefit the organization and will certainly help your career. You’ll be better equipped to speak to principals more effectively now that you have had an insight into what works – every single time!

Are you running into stumbling blocks when approaching your principal? We can help you become a past master at this crucial interchange. Call Me –  Jim Lara – at 1-865-357-5077