The Two-Chairs In Your Own Life

There are many aspects of the story of US Air Flight 1549. Don’t think for a second that I don’t realize that. I just want to focus on a single aspect for right now, with you. And that aspect is the Two Chairs in the cockpit, the pilot Chesley Sullenberger and the co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles.

For a surprising amount of time, the passengers and flight attendants didn’t have knowledge of what was going on. The crux of the story was in the cockpit. The two occupants of the two chairs grappled with a mind-blowing circumstance. Their aircraft was without a functioning engine. They were, in essence, gliding to a stop. The harsh reality was that the stop would likely be a crash. The effects of the crash could be guessed at. The guess wasn’t a happy one.

How much of your leadership boils down to you and the person next to you? How much of your day reflects this dynamic? And perhaps most importantly of all, in those instances that you define as highly critical, how often do they play out as the interaction between you and someone else?

You know, I’ll bet that the number of those situations is much greater than you might have thought, especially in critical times. It’s worth the effort to take a moment and think through some of the most impactful stories of your own history as a leader. Can you find a few “Two Chair” stories in your life?

The answer is significant regardless of its nature. For example, if your answer is “a lot of times I’ve been in ‘Two-Chair’ circumstances”, my next question would be to have you reflect on the source of your approach to those situations. What do you draw from? Conversely, if your answer is “hardly ever” or “I can’t think of any”, what does that suggest about the story of your leadership? Is there a particular reason why you don’t end up in such intimate settings? And do you feel prepared for the potential emergence of a “Two-Chair” situation?

Let me know if you’d like to consider a private coaching series (my Creative Conversations) that pivots on your leadership and Two-Chairs. The Two-Chairs is a rich and vital aspect of leadership.