develop aviation professionals - team celebrating on mountaintop

Not long ago, I participated in a conference panel session, discussing ways to develop aviation professionals as a “retention tool.”

In particular, we shared ways to enhance people’s skills and abilities to keep them engaged. In other words, give them the necessary professional development to make them “feel the love.”

One of the comments that arose was along the lines of: “All well and good, but what happens if I develop my team members and they leave?”

Which prompted me to ask: “But what if you don’t develop them and they stay?

Both of us had a point. Thus, the topic sparked an interesting debate over what path to follow—and what’s advisable—to develop today’s business aviation pros.


Why Develop Aviation Professionals?

I think many of us have heard the popular Richard Branson quote,

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

Indeed. This is what I was getting at during the panel session.

Let’s face it, with the current pilot and maintenance shortages, we need to heed Branson’s line of thought.

We must trust in the idea that if we train—and treat—them well enough—they’ll stay. Do they feel a sense of connection? Are they well-compensated? Do they feel like you’re invested in them as a person and professional?

Doing so will maximize your return on your investment.

After all, it’s a lot less expensive to develop someone—and assign them special projects or give them a trip to a leadership conference—than it is to hire their replacement.

(As a reminder, it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace top talent, as we’ve discussed in the blog: The High Cost of Pilot Turnover.)


Great Leaders Create Great Leaders

I recently read somewhere that “great leaders create great leaders.”

And I think it’s 100-percent true. Especially as we face a growing shortage of pilots and maintenance professionals, and want to attract young people to our industry.

In the final analysis, we MUST budget for, and then make an investment in, our future leaders. Because the influence your team members have over the success of your department is tremendous. And if they’re well-trained (technically) and well-developed (as leaders), it will reflect positively. They will mirror your company values. Their work will affect others in the day-in, day-out conduct of your company.

It’s true that we may all be stretched to the max regarding budgets and human resources, but making a commitment to our top talent to keep them engaged and happy ultimately will, in fact, generate a return.

Pay it Forward

It’s important to remember that we all can point to someone in our past who has given us a boost and helped us move through the ranks. It might even be true that, at some point, we left that generous mentor and company to accept a more challenging role someplace else.

But, in a larger sense, it’s okay to “pay it forward.” Because, by investing in individual employees, we’re also investing in the business aviation industry as a whole. The key is to pinpoint the development team needs of each individual. Then make that investment.

Please remember: employee development is where true employee engagement gets birthed and comes to life.

Find out which areas your team members may be weak in and create a plan for them geared to development goals. And then use all the requisite tools—coaching, mentoring, training workshops, leadership conferences, seminars and classes—to support their growth.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to know that when we’re focused on the development of our employees it will, in turn, strengthen our own leadership. Ultimately, valuing your team will be the key to your own success, so put aside those doubts and “develop away.”


Your Turn

What are you doing to develop aviation leaders within your organization? And who in your past helped you get to where you now are by developing your leadership skills and abilities? Please share your advice for our readers in the comment section below.


  • Hello, I enjoyed the article plus to see the sentence about the void of not enough technicians gives me hope. I do have a favor, im looking for scholarships that will help me continue to reach my goal of obtaining an A and P License? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you and God bless
    Bradley George

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