Thinking Under Pressure: Lessons we can Learn from Aviation


Since the Wright brothers’ historic flight in 1903, the aviation industry has evolved significantly. Today, it connects the world, shaping global transportation, commerce, and exploration.

We know aviation is characterised by strict safety protocols, rapid technological advancements, global connectivity, and the diverse weather conditions it operates in. Ensuring safe and efficient air travel in an ecosystem that demands precision, adaptability, communication, trust and collaboration across multiple agencies. It is ever-evolving.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is responsible for managing the large airspace of Ireland, which covers a hugely significant area of 451,000 km2. This airspace is a crucial gateway between Europe and North America. The Air Traffic Controllers stationed at Shannon ensure the safe passage of over 90% of all aircraft travelling between the two continents. During the summer months, this amounts to more than 1,200 aircraft every 24 hours. Managing such a dynamic and volatile environment is no easy task.

Key lessons from the cockpit

Air traffic controllers communicate with either a pilot or a co-pilot (first officer) who are responsible for flying an aircraft in the sky. Being a pilot requires quick thinking under pressure, and there are three crucial lessons we can learn from their approach:

Learning from the precision and process of the aviation industry is insightful, as all roles require effective decision-making and responses.

Do you use easy-to-remember guides, participate in regular training, and show accountability for improvements?

More Insights by Jonny Cooper

Chameleons, Leadership and Change

Resetting for 2024

Elite Team Cohesion

The Differences Between a Performer and a High Performer

Building Optimal Performance