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As with all incidents that go around, there’s a smattering of truth, some of the untold story, and a whole lot of people with very strong opinions, myself included. Most recently, an international air incident involving AirAsia – an issue with an engine, a pilot who safely landed the plane with no injury or death, and yes, oh, he asked his passengers to say a prayer in the heat of the moment.

I won’t espouse my personal opinion on this, although you can probably guess what it is. I do however want to go a bit deeper. Our global news media hooked onto an incident – one that was quite serious in nature. No, not a unilateral conversion attempt, but a genuine mechanical failure mid-air that could have resulted in loss of life. Instead of applauding the pilot and his crew for an awesome job of bringing the plane in safely without harm to anyone (or property), and focusing on what actually happened to facilitate this incident, media, and the general global netizen, jumped on to the ‘religious’ element and swept the heroics under the carpet.

This is wrong! This is not news. News is the incident that occurred, and the incredibly brave and talented action of the pilot to land the craft safely. That’s the news.
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But it didn’t stop there. It continued. Big Boss Tony from AirAsia went on record to support the pilot. People reacted to that too, and not all that well in a good way.

My question – did he do the right thing? Supporting his pilot?

Yes! Regardless of your personal stance on the ‘prayer’ issue – and since we weren’t there at the time, it’s very difficult to objectively comment, we have to look yet again at what Tony did as a leader. He stood up for his team members. He acknowledged their effort, their bravery, and their quick-thinking in doing their job and ensuring a positive outcome. Publicly he showed that he is a team player, and that the issue of safety outweighed other perspectives which might come into play. Publicly he showed common sense should prevail. He showed not only his team that he supports them in times of trouble, but he showed the world that he is a supportive leader, and does not cave in to public opinion. He refocussed the issue at hand, and he demonstrated that a strong leader always has their team’s back. 

This is the second time that as a leader he has stepped up to the mark and publicly shown his support during a crisis.  An important move, as many bosses would look for a scapegoat. But no, he fronted the issue face on, and attempted to bring the narrative back to where it belongs – a heroic pilot who averted disaster.

Sometimes, the news gets it wrong. The foci is too often on what is perceived as negative – not what the positive outcomes of a scenario are. Too often leaders try to cover their asses, rather than stand firm and ground the issue where it belongs.

Has this changed my stance on the matter? No. But I do appreciate that I wasn’t there, and I do appreciate that the pilot did one heck of a job in ensuring this passengers and crew’s safety – he is definitely a hero!

An academic at heart, Craig abandoned educating graduates-to-be, only to find himself coaching entrepreneurs instead. Passionate, competent and dedicated at his career as a business consultant, Craig is adept at writing, and solving the most complex of situations. Having joined the industry for more than ten years, Craig, as the current Managing Director at Orchan Consulting Asia, splits his time between providing compelling consultancy, and brainwashing interns into professional food-delivery staff.

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