Top Gun Leadership: You Are Not Alone

Top Gun Leadership

From the 1986 movie Top Gun:

“- Maverick, call the ball.”

“- Roger.  Maverick has the ball.”

Even though you may think that you re in charge and that you are the only thing that matters, you need to take a look around you and think again . . .

Because you’re wrong.

You Are Not Alone

You didn’t get to where you are all by yourself and you sure aren’t staying there alone.  No matter how high you are, you are not “the one”.

No matter what your position is, you’re not calling all the shots.  You have people influencing you.

Many higher managers think they’re totally in charge – maybe like a CEO or some other top manager.  That’s not the way it is at all.  No matter how much you think that you’re in charge, you are not alone.

You didn’t get there alone and you can’t stay there alone.

Top Gun Leadership

How many of you have seen Top Gun or any other movie featuring fighter pilots?

Pilots couldn’t even get off an aircraft carrier without a myriad of people. I know this because I was in the Navy, so the example goes.  Most people don’t even realize, but the aircraft doesn’t “belong” to the pilot – he’s just the one who flies it.

The aircraft “belongs” to the Plane Captain – an enlisted person – not even an officer.  He (or she) is responsible for its upkeep and safety.

Then you have:

  • air operations
  • air traffic controllers
  • wingmen
  • landing signal officers
  • people to clean it
  • people to fix/install electronics
  • people to arm it
  • people to fix hydraulics
  • people to move it from place to place,
  • people to refuel it . . .

See where I’m going here…?

We Are All on a Team

Even the best and most capable leader isn’t an expert on everything.

If you look at some of the most successful leaders you’ll see that they realized this and that they needed assistance to lead effectively.

Sometimes you may have more support rather than advising, but look at Abe Lincoln or Ronald Reagan, or any other successful President for that matter.  They all had/have true advisors.  The President may have the final say, but he wouldn’t be able to come to the right conclusion without all of his advisors.

Currently there are 14 Secretaries of the Cabinets and the Attorney General.  Five other Advisory positions are not Cabinet members but are an important part of the President’s top team.

There are just over 20 adviser positions under the President of the united States . . . 20!

The Leader’s Advisors

There are many types of advisors.  They can be both formal and informal, subordinates, hired, teams, even your own leaders.  And you can pick them.  Chip Grizzard, CEO of Grizzard Communication Groups has 6 things he looks for in an advisor:

  1. Keep your promises
  2. Focus on others’ success
  3. Stay in it for the long haul
  4. Treat people right
  5. Persevere
  6. Never compromise

Even though Walt Disney was in complete control of his namesake company, who was always there advising him?  His brother Roy.  And because of that (even though there were ups and downs, as with anyone), Disney movies and Disneyland became instant successes and Roy was able to take over leading the building of Walt Disney World following Walt’s death in 1966.

On Leadership and Listening

What I’m really getting at here – if you haven’t quite figured it out yet – is that you have to be able to LISTEN in order to be a successful leader.

Ask questions and listen to the people around you.

Position people around you that will funnel you information you need to help you make the correct decisions.

Do you have a “support group?” Do you listen to your advisors?  When are you going to start listening?


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Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

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4 responses to “Top Gun Leadership: You Are Not Alone

  1. Excellent article.

    And, the thesis is spot-on. We, as leaders, are a product of our mentors, superiors, and subordinates, both in the time it took us to get to our current position and our time in our current position.

    Rather than perceive ourselves as solely responsible for our position, we should embrace the team, the community of ideas, and the benefits from the same.

    Good work.

    Alan Fowler


  2. And look what happened to Goose when Maverick thought he had the ball! Another salient lesson on why you can’t be focussed on your own glory above all others.

    It takes talent to be good and humility to be truly great.

    Great post, thanks for sharing!


  3. I found the article iterated what is after all just common sense….nothing new really. But then, how common is common sense?


  4. Pingback: Leadership updates for 03/28/2012·

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