7 Skill Sets of a High-Flying Team

Every time I go for a flight, I want my landings to equal my take-offs.

There I was, at the controls of my $23.5M C-130, climbing sunward, ready to go have another fun day of slipping the surly bonds of earth and dancing the skies on laughtered-silvered wings. Seconds after we lifted off the ground, I called to raise the gear. My co-pilot raised the gear handle, and within seconds we were accosted with the awful sound of banging, likely from the gear well of what I thought was a perfectly maintained aircraft. I looked over at the gear indicator lights and knew my gear had not safely retracted as commanded by my co-pilot. It is in this moment that I, the Aircraft Commander, had to make some decisions as to what to do next. After thoroughly assessing our options, the crew and I realized that we could lower the gear down and take a chance at landing the aircraft immediately. We were able to safely get this wounded bird back on the ground without incident, allowing all of us to walk away.

I looked over at the gear indicator lights and knew my gear had not safely retracted as commanded by my co-pilot.

During my time serving in the military as a Mobility Pilot, a Special Operations Pilot, an Aircraft Commander and an Instructor Pilot, there was always a need to have crewmembers work as cohesive teams. Cohesiveness is required in completing our daily office jobs, our routine flying and especially during combat, where stress can get the best of people. To complicate matters, a flight crew might be comprised of members from all walks of life. How did we manage to operate multi-million dollar equipment, under stress, with all of these added challenges?  How did my crew manage to handle the emergency gear problem we were faced with? We learned, were well versed, and exercised what the Air Force calls Crew Resource Management (CRM). Only by utilizing CRM, working together as a cohesive team, were we able to safely land that aircraft with a complex gear malfunction.

Maybe you’re wondering what exactly is CRM? How can you translate these tools for your high performing team(s), to get results and increase your bottom line?

CRM consists of seven skill sets to help teams be more effective. By implementing even one of these skill sets, you are guaranteed to see positive results that will impact your organization’s culture, climate and bottom line. Start by adopting the practices of one and once that has been achieved, move onto another. Keep in mind that each person and team are never 100% in all areas. The concept of CRM is dynamic, like teams, and requires team members to always be on the lookout for ways to improve.

7 CRM Skill Sets of a High-Flying Team:

  • Situational Awareness
  • Assertiveness
  • Decision Making
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Adaptability & Flexibility
  • Professional Knowledge

CRM is utilized extensively inside a crew airplane such as a C-130 with a 5-6-person crew. CRM is also utilized to manage the resources that are outside of our airplane, often back at our home base. Additionally, Air Force single seat fighter pilots practice the art of CRM.  They manage the resources inside their aircraft that they directly control, with their wingmen, and with other resources outside of the aircraft that are available to them to ensure that they can fly, fight and win in contested combat environments.

At High Flight Solutions, we help you review the CRM Skill Sets and identify the strengths of your organization. We work with you to think about where your team and organization need to spend more time to hone a particular skill set that will enable better CRM.  It is rare that a team will operate at 100% in all areas at all times. This is why you have a team, to help offset weak areas and blind spots, to collectively be better than an individual alone.

Your company might not be operating in contested, combat environments or operating at the speed of sound. However, you operate in challenging environments that require fully engaged team members, ready to solve problems and utilize CRM in all situations. In order to have a successful team, like Air Force combat crews, your team needs to be operating at max performance, utilizing CRM and winning the daily battles of the corporate environment. The climate, culture and bottom line of your organization will depend on it!

You operate in challenging environments that require fully engaged team members, ready to solve problems and utilize CRM in all situations.

If your organization is ready to push the thrust levers up for max performance and start your journey to soar above the competition, give us a call at High Flight Solutions.

Posted in

7 Skill Sets


Effective leadership is critical during times of stress and turbulence.

Equip yourself with these 7 skill sets to cultivate higher levels of trust so you can successfully navigate your team through turbulence. Identify your strengths and opportunities for each skill set with this application-focused guide.

Lead Magnet

7 Skillsets of No Fail Trust 1-7