Few people have had their mettle tested so publicly, or in such dire circumstances, as Captain “Sully” Sullenberger. It was just over a decade ago that the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 deployed a life’s worth of leadership lessons to safely land his disabled plane in the Hudson River, a feat he routinely credits to team–rather than individual–performance.
Since then, myriad business leaders and others have sought his insights on the importance of mastering one’s craft, maintaining constant vigilance, continuously learning, and always being willing to listen. Sullenberger spoke with Inc. about his experience with command, ways to improve how leadership is taught, and, of course, that momentous day in 2009.
Inc.: Whom did you admire when you were growing up? What did they teach you?Sullenberger: My father was a naval officer in World War II. He taught me from a very early age about the responsibilities of a leader: that a commander is ultimately responsible for every aspect of the welfare of those in his or her care. And woe be to any leader who through some lack of foresight or error in judgment causes someone to be hurt.