Over the weekend we ventured out of Superhero HQ and headed for Southport where the sky was filled with the drone of engines and the coloured smoke billowing from the tails of the fantastic Red Arrows, the world’s premier aerobatic teams and the public face of the Royal Air Force.
Along with the rest of the crowd we looked into the sky and ‘ooood’ and ‘ahhhhed’ as the Red Arrows (in their 48th display season) demonstrated the amazing capabilities of their equipment and expertise. Their guiding motto is ‘Éclat’* which means brilliance and their mission is to act as ambassadors for Britain whilst enthralling, captivating and inspiring millions of people both in the UK and around the world and we were definitely not disappointed.
Whilst most people are aware of the fantastic Red Arrow flying prowess, at Superhero HQ we are also inspired by their approach to teamwork. On the RAF website it tells you a little more about how the team works together to wow the crowd.
“The Reds approach the crowd in tight formation, wings just feet apart, manoeuvring at speeds of up to 400 mph (720 kph). With split-second timing, releasing their trademark coloured trails, they fan out to form a perfect pattern in the sky – the Vixen Break. Rising vertically, the pilots pull a gruelling 7 g, clenching their stomach muscles to help withstand the force. From the ground, it looks absolutely amazing.”
Striving for ‘Brilliance’
In her book ‘Creating Top Flight Teams’ Hilarie Owen describes what it like to be a member of the Red Arrows team and explains how they strive for ‘brilliance’ each and every time they fly. Every Red Arrow ‘sortie’ is filmed and on the teams return they go through a thorough debriefing. This is in 2 parts, at first the ‘Boss’ ( the Team Leader) encourages the team to review each stage of the sortie and give honest and direct feedback to each other about individual performance. Rank doesn’t matter and this openness allows the team to see how they are progressing. The second stage of the debrief is to watch the video of the sortie and help each other to identify learning points so mistakes can be put right during the next sortie when they are fresh and relevant. Given the minute margin for error, it seems that an honest discussion about how to continue to improve the whole teams’ performance is the only sensible approach, and watching the display this weekend we were suitably wowed by the trust and team work on show.
Finding your own teams ‘éclat’
Given that we are all striving for our own version of ‘éclat’ at work it seems that taking a lesson or two from the Red Arrows is a worth while thing to do. At Superhero HQ we are putting our superhero qualities to good work and are seeking to emulate the regular, timely honesty and insight that gives the Red Arrows their sparkling edge. How regular and timely is the honesty and insight in your team? How could you emulate the Red Arrows and polish up your teams sparkle?
If you happen to be reading this, we’d love to hear about how your team emulates the superhero qualities of the Red Arrows. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Éclat Pronunciation: /ekla/