Captain Sullenberger was feted with rescuing US Airways flight 1549 from crashing by safely landing on the Hudson River in New York only minutes after take-off. This was a major crisis and could have ended fatally had he not thought on his feet and remained absolutely calm. His quick decision to land on the river saved 155 lives, 150 passengers and 5 crew members. His success can be attributed to the fact that he managed to remain level headed during the crisis. Furthermore, his collaborative effort with the first officer, Skiles, enabled them to save the aircraft. Captain Sullenberger demonstrated apt leadership by delegating duties, for instance, he took over the controls once the plane started losing altitude and gave Captain Skiles the duty of going through the three-page emergency landing procedures in order to restart the failing engines. Most credit went to Captain Sullenberger for demonstrating servant leadership and managing the crisis calmly. The crew also did a phenomenal job by preparing the passengers for impact and in evacuating passengers from the plane and ensuring that no one was panicking. Without the passengers sense of collective responsibility, not many would have survived the ordeal.
Leaders and followers can learn a lot from this situation on how to deal and manage crisis. Leaders for instance, can be taught and trained on how to be level headed in a demanding situation. Secondly, they have to learn how to work collaboratively with their subordinates; this includes delegating duties, in order to work promptly and to avoid confusion. If the crew members did not know the safety procedures to execute in the event of engine failure, then they would have panicked and so would have the patients. This would have made it extremely difficult for the captain to contain the situation. Followers ought to be aware of precautions to take should as situation like this present itself. This involves taking keen interest in listening when the crew members are expounding on and demonstrating safety precautions (emergency exits, safety jackets and oxygen masks). Secondly, it must be emphasized to them that panicking will only make the situation worse and prevent them from following instructions properly.
US Airways passengers and staff performed tremendously in salvaging the situation because of their sense of collective responsibility, cohesion and efficient communication. Their ability to focus on each other and not tools to save their lives stands out. The captain and his co-pilot managed to land the plane because of their streamlined efforts and their fast thinking. It was ingenious thinking that could be attributed to proper aviation training. Captain Sullenbergers ability to issue the necessary commands, and the crew executing what they had to committed to memory many times before saved the day.
New York City agencies were able to respond the situation immediately. This is partly influenced by the fact that other fatal crises like 9/11 had caught them unawares. Therefore, it was critical to elevate the magnitude of vigilance in the city after such events.
A few lessons can be learnt about crisis leadership and followership based on the incident. First and foremost, leaders ought to take initiative in managing followers, in the case of Captain Sullenberger; he managed to take charge of the situation immediately through clear cut thinking. Secondly, he and his co-pilot believed in the capabilities of the crew members and passengers in executing an evacuation order. This possible because all parties managed to establish a relationship swiftly that was based on trust and collective effort. Furthermore, the crew members were prompt in disseminating information, usually they are charged with the responsibility of guiding passengers (with the help of two more passengers) in emergency situations. Through direct and clear directives, the passengers, much as they were afraid, were able to make it out safely to the emergency exits. Finally, it is important that there is mutual respect and clear and effective communication between leaders and their followers.
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