How the Fighter Pilot Ethos Can Elevate Your Company Event

Written by:
Afterburner Team

In an ideal world, your sales kickoff, executive leadership offsite, or other company event would be a source of excitement – and for companies who get it right, it is. But far too many business leaders dread these events. These leaders have been around the block enough to know that, all too often, company events suffer from one, if not both, of the following problems:

1. They’re dull

C-Suite leaders might be brilliant business minds. But they’re not always the most electric performers. As a result, what could, and should, be a high-energy keynote instead ends up a dull slide presentation. Rather than getting pumped to execute on your objectives, your team spends the event counting down the minutes until lunchtime.

2. They don’t lead anywhere

During team events, leaders often do a great job of outlining their company’s goals for the quarter or year, and the path toward attaining them. But the plans they make often fall by the wayside as employee turnover, fire drills, and other unexpected developments shake things up. In the weeks and months after the event, teams often end up losing the plot.

If your team has experienced either of these scenarios, it’s time to rethink your team events. The best place to start is by organizing your next event around the fighter pilot ethos. Not only will this turn your event into a new and memorable experience for your team – it will empower your team to meet the biggest challenges facing businesses today head-on. Here’s how.

Learn More: What to expect when you book a high-energy, fighter pilot-led event with Afterburner.

You’ll elevate your planning skills

Fighter pilots know that any successful mission starts with successful planning. Before their missions begin, elite squadrons leverage a scalable, replicable planning framework that lays out their course of action in detail, ensures everyone is accountable for their deliverables, and addresses contingencies. Adopting this approach in your next company event will put you in a great position not just to build a better plan, but to stick with it throughout the quarter and the year.

After all, circumstances change rapidly in business, just like they do in fighter pilot missions. Leveraging a fighter pilot-style planning framework will empower you to adapt to those changes as seamlessly as possible.

You’ll learn to execute under pressure

It’s amazing how many of the challenges fighter pilots face also arise, to some degree, in business settings. Both fighter pilots and business teams often face enormous pressure to achieve their goal in an extremely limited time frame. Both have to manage unforeseen complications and put out fires that emerge seemingly out of nowhere. And both have to handle these stressors without losing their cool or their momentum. 

The key difference? Fighter pilots have rock-solid tools and protocols that they leverage to execute flawlessly in this environment. If you use your company event as an opportunity to teach and practice these protocols, you’ll learn to respond to this kind of pressure by accelerating your performance and meeting the moment.

You’ll stay focused amid distractions

In any given fighter pilot mission, there’s a lot going on. Myriad factors and inputs affect the decisions each pilot makes every second. At any given moment, there are numerous imperatives demanding the pilot’s attention. There’s a lot to do, and not a lot of time in which to do it. 

Businesses are often similarly swamped with simultaneous, often competing tasks. Even as you read this, you may have a plethora of emails and calls to return, internal requests to address, and team members asking you for guidance. Staying focused with so much going on can be a challenge, to say the least.

Fighter pilots have a name for this challenge: task saturation. And they deal with it using tools like task shedding and cross checks. Rather than using your company event to simply outline your goals and strategies for the quarter, spend some time focusing on these tools. Set up simulated scenarios so your team has a chance to practice them. Doing so will ensure that, in addition to syncing up on your new strategy, your team will have the skills necessary to stay focused when things get chaotic – as they almost inevitably do.

You’ll keep the energy level high

Fighter pilots are a lot of things: leaders, teammates, problem-solvers. One thing they’re not is boring. Taking a fighter pilot approach to your next company event means upping the adrenaline in the room. Just as much as anything else, the fighter pilot ethos is about building excitement for, and commitment to, your mission, so you can start executing with passion, solidarity, and lots of results-focused energy. 

Bringing this kind of energy into your next event is critical. It’s the difference between giving your team an experience they’ll quickly forget versus one they’ll take with them as they execute throughout the year. 

How to Incorporate the Fighter Pilot Ethos into Your Next Company Event

To learn more about the fighter pilot ethos so you can implement it in your next company event, check out some of our resources on task saturation, cross checks, and mission planning. And when you’re ready for action, get in touch to learn how Afterburner can get your team in a room with real fighter pilots, so you can learn the fighter pilot ethos from those who have lived it.