Retired RAF Pilot Peter Docker, on Leadership From the Jumpseat


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Peter Docker

My guest for Episode #437 of the Lean Blog Interviews Podcast is Peter Docker. He is the author of the book Leading From the Jumpseat: How to Create Extraordinary Opportunities by Handing Over Control.

He was the co-author of the book Find Your Why and formerly a founding Igniter at Simon Sinek Inc. Peter draws on his 25-year career in the Royal Air Force, and over 14 years spent partnering with businesses around the world, to inspire others to “Lead from the Jumpseat.”

Additional options for purchasing the book.

There are opportunities today to connect the dots to Lean, as we focus on styles of leadership that are very compatible with Lean.

Today, we discuss topics and questions including:

  • Mutual respect… “respect for people” connection
  • What is jumpseat leadership?
  • Humility / courage to ask for help — a culture that invites that?
  • Doing nothing vs. choosing to not intervene
  • React vs. response
  • Planning for likely events – checklists 
  • Standardized Work parallel — Mental capacity to deal with the unexpected
  • Hospitals – sense of belonging – love for others
  • Eric Dickson example – link to his episode of “Habitual Excellence
  • Driven by love or driven by fear? — Fear is not sustainable
  • “Humble Confidence” — can somebody become more humble? Or do the humble become more confident?
  • Leadership under pressure?
  1. Learning to fly
  2. Flying
  3. Teaching others to fly
  4. Leading from the Jumpseat
  • Belonging – how can leaders create a sense of belonging?
    • This goes beyond the word “engagement”?
  • “Learning is a large part of military culture” — what creates that?

The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in their 30th year of business. They are the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity, and healthcare industries. Learn more.

This podcast is part of the #LeanCommunicators network


Automated Transcript (Not Guaranteed to be Defect Free)

Announcer (2s):
Welcome to the lean blog podcast. Visit our website Now here's your host Mark Graban.

Mark Graban (13s):
Hi, it's Mark Graban. Welcome to episode 437 of the podcast. It's January 25th, 2022. My guest today is Peter Docker. You'll learn more about him in a moment. He is the author of a fantastic book called Leading From The Jumpseat: How to Create Extraordinary Opportunities by Handing Over Contro. So to learn more about Peter and his book and more go to the show notes, or you can go to I also want to take a moment to thank again, our sponsors, Stiles Associates. They are sponsoring the podcast for a second year.

Mark Graban (53s):
I appreciate their partnership and support and collaboration. Encourage you to check them out. If you've got an executive position to fill or you're somebody who is, I don't know, a part of this great resignation, ready to find another great opportunity. Go to Well, hi everybody. Welcome to the podcast. Again, our guest today is Peter Docker, and first I want to thank my friend and fellow podcaster. Chris Burnham. I'm the host of the Lean Leadership Podcast for making the connection and the introduction. You can also hear Peter on his already appeared on Chris's podcast, but I think we're going to have a really good discussion here today as well.

Mark Graban (1m 33s):
Peter has been in, in, in his life. There's a, there's a long list, professional pilot, military commander, project manager, negotiator, teacher, speaker, consultant, and father. So before I tell you a little bit more first off, welcome to the podcast, Peter,

Peter Docker (1m 51s):
Thank you so much, Mark. And hearing that list makes me chuckle. Actually, sometimes it doesn't feel like it was all me, but there we are.

Mark Graban (1m 60s):
And as you said in the book, you, you meant no, no offense to your children for putting father at the end of that list.

Peter Docker (2m 8s):
Yeah, absolutely. I think fatherhood's or parenthood as well. The biggest leadership challenges that many of us face. I certainly believe so for me at any rate. Yeah.

Mark Graban (2m 19s):
So Peter is the author of the book that I mentioned. I'm going, I've had the chance to, to really dig into this. It's called Leading From The Jumpseat: How to Create Extraordinary Opportunities by Handing Over Control. So there'll be a link to where you can get that book in the show notes. So we're going to be talking about concepts from that book today. Peter was previously the co-author of the book Find Your Why. He was formerly a, what they call a founding igniter at Simon Sinek Incorporated. Peter draws on his 25 year career in the Royal Air Force. And over 14 years spent partnering with businesses around the world to inspire others to, as he describes in the book.

Mark Graban (2m 60s):
And we're going to talk about here again today, this phrase lead from the jump seat. So I think we'll have some opportunities to connect the dots to lean leadership concepts. There's a lot in, in the book that I think is familiar compatible a lot of great ideas here. So the theme today definitely is on leadership. And you know, of course I mentioned Royal Air Force and you've heard Peter's voice. So I'll ask the question. Some listeners are looking or looking to get confirmation. Where are you joining us from today?

Peter Docker (3m 32s):
Well, as you can sell from the accident, I, y s, I'm in the UK. I'm in England, I'm west of London, I'm west of Oxford, west of Oxford, the city famous for its colleges university. And I live in a small village about 40 minutes drive west of Oxford in the beautiful countryside. And it's just starting to get dark here, but last winter for you,

Mark Graban (3m 55s):
Then there's one other biographical detail I'm wanting to ask you about. I I'm an engineer. I think, wait, we probably have a lot of engineers in the audience and you, you started your education pursuing engineering before choosing to, to join the Royal Air Force. I was wondering if you had any, any thoughts you'd want to share about that progression and shift in your

Peter Docker (4m 17s):
Yes. That, that takes you back. Good. Heavens it's just over 40 years ago when I first started university and I started a double degree in electronic engineering and computing. So this was back in the early eighties. Good heavens. Long time ago. I think what I particularly remember about that time mark, is that I knew nothing really about those subjects and any electronic engineers out there. I'm sure you're very good at physics. I'm very good at mathematics because that's sort of a prerequisite. I have no real physics background and I was mediocre at best at mathematics. But the reason that I chose those subjects, that double degree was because at the time I felt it was my best opportunity to get a job afterwards.

Peter Docker (5m 5s):
That was well paid and I wouldn't be dependent on anyone else. And more than that, I could support my parents cause we work pretty hard up at the time. Both my parents had lost their jobs. And so yes, I wanted to support them. So that's the reason I started that degree. And perhaps I was overreaching a little bit. I don't think I have, I may not have had the academic ability to graduate electronic engineering who knows, but I left actually about two years into the four year program to join the Royal Air Force. And that was a, another crossroads in my life at the time.

Mark Graban (5m 45s):
'cause I mean, a lot of it comes down to, as you talk about in the book, a sense of purpose or a sense of calling and, and at the time that that sense of purpose, that opportunity to help others by joining the Royal Air Force was really important. Right?

Peter Docker (6m 4s):
Yeah. I, you know, w we talk a lot about purpose in this realm and certainly the time I spent with Simon Sinek and co author and find your why that was focused on purpose, but I wanted to get a little bit deeper in leading from the jump seat, the latest book, because well, it, it struck me that there are some things that are so important to us that we will move forward even in the face of uncertainty or danger and, or even when we don't know what the answer is, you know, and what brought this to mind was a couple of years ago, when I received a phone call from my wife, Claire, and she was somewhat shaken, told me that she'd just been involved in a car accident.

Peter Docker (6m 49s):
Now I was on a call with some colleagues at the time it was during the working day. But as you might imagine, I dropped everything and went to support my wife. It was only a couple of miles away and thankfully she was okay. But what I reflected about that moment was that the surge of energy inside me that occurred at that point, I didn't know what I was stepping into. I had no idea, but I took that step forward regardless. And that's the thing. When we start to identify those things that are deeply important to us, it gives us that energy that drive to move forward. Now, for many of us, that includes family, but I've raised the question myself, what's the inquiry around, well, what else is deeply important to me now?

Peter Docker (7m 37s):
I mentioned something about going to university on why I chose that those degrees subjects. It was because something deeply important to me is not being a burden on anyone else and being able to support others as, and when I can. But then I mentioned, I reached that crossroads. It was in 1992, I was mid-course but university and something else in the world happens. And that was the islands in the south Atlantic or the Falkland islands. They were invaded by neighboring Argentina. Now the Falcon islands have been a British territory for many, many years. And the people who live there considered themselves to be British. And at the time I remember it was nothing to do with politics, but I felt incensed that some was in someone was imposing their will on others.

Peter Docker (8m 26s):
And that's how a similar surge of energy in Siamese so much so that I chose to leave university mid-course to join the Royal Air Force because I felt in doing so, I could be part of an organization that in future could help others who could not help themselves. And the way I express that these days in terms of a driver deep inside of me is the theme of mutual respect. That is deeply important to me, mutual respect, not being a burden on others. These are three of things that are deeply important to me that gives me this energy and size the non-negotiables and why that is so valuable is that when we're moving in the face of uncertainty or leading, when we don't know the answer, these drivers deeply held drivers, give us a handrail and they give us something to help guide us.

Peter Docker (9m 21s):
And I think that is so vitally important in the realm of leadership and, and leading others, leading ourselves and also leading others.

Mark Graban (9m 32s):
And when you talk about mutual respect, I mean that that's maybe one point where I'll connect some dots to the, the Toyota, the Toyota way culture and what they would describe as respect for people and respect for humanity. And that is very much a two way street or in whatever directions. This is not demanding that employees show respect to their boss, the mutual respect that it starts with leaders respecting their employees. That's one common theme.

Peter Docker (10m 5s):
Yes. And so it would come as no surprise to you that that really resonates with me the Toyota approach, and also the, a lot of aspects of Japanese culture, the, this notion of respect and other sometimes intangibles like honor or respecting our legacy and our past, you know, it all resonates with me. I think it's deeply important. And it's one of those things that drives me forward.

Mark Graban (10m 33s):
Yeah. So to dig deeper into the leadership concepts, we talk about in the book leading from the jump seat, there's an aviation term there. So sometimes we w where we borrow from Toyota or manufacturing and was, we've got to learn some of the lingo, you know, first off us give us the context of the jump seat. I mean, I know the term, but I don't really know what that means in the context of a plane.

Peter Docker (10m 58s):
Well, it links back to a story that helps inspire the writing of this book. And I think as human beings from time and Memorial, we have, we have learned and passed on knowledge through stories. They tend to be memorable. And this is certainly a story that was memorable for me. It goes back some years now, I was a senior officer in the Royal Air Force. I was a pilot and part of my role, I would check pilots on my squadrons to make sure they were up to standard. And on this particular occasion, there was this young guy called Callum, and he'd been a copilot for first office of many years. And he was just completing his training to become a captain. Now that involved about six months of training, digging deeper into the aircraft systems, learning more about the, the backgrounds, the aircraft performance.

Peter Docker (11m 46s):
So as they would then be able to be in charge of the aircraft, be responsible for it flying in our case, a and 40 passengers around the world, anywhere in all conditions. And so this is a big step. And the final stage in that process was for someone such as me to act as Callum's co-pilots, as he flew us from a to B to C to D to, to do a final check. And on this occasion, we'd flown from, from London over to Washington Delos, and then onto San Francisco and San Fran is a very busy place. And the calendar, a fantastic job flying us in there. And we, we tanked it in shut down, and the passengers got all far turns to Kalamara said, great performance, very well done.

Peter Docker (12m 31s):
I'm signing you up. You're good to go. We're going to stay here the nights. But then in the morning, we'll have a full packs load and we'll be flying back to Washington. You'll have a regular co-pilot with you. I'll be down in the back with the other passengers. And as I'm sure you appreciate it, that's a great moment to be able to sign somebody up. They've worked hard for it. And it was a wonderful moment for Callum. So we stopped there the night, the following morning, I was just flicking through a magazine, as Talon was doing the pre-flight preparation. He came to me, he said, excuse me, sir. And the Serb it's important, not for my ego, but the fact that I was several ranks above him and were in the military. So there's this hierarchy, but he came to me. So, excuse me, sir. He said, it's very busy during rush hour in the morning at San Fran.

Peter Docker (13m 14s):
And it's not a place we fly out with regularly. Penny come and sit on the jump seat for our taxi out to help look out for other aircraft and make sure we, we texted the right way, et cetera. And I said, yes, of course, captain, no problem at all. And it struck me. This was show great courage on behalf of Callan, because remember, he'd have somebody watching over his shoulder for the past six months. This was his opportunity just to get on with the job. But no, he was, if you like connected to a higher purpose, which was the safety of the aircraft and everyone on board. So he asked me to send on the jump seat and the jump seats is on the flight deck of most large aircraft. You have the captains and the co-pilot seats.

Peter Docker (13m 55s):
And then immediately behind you have a third seat, which is usually empty. That's the jump seats and the crew members like myself can sit there and grab a ride home. So I sat and strapped in great view out the cockpit. You can see everything and come find out the aircraft. We started a taxi out. It did a great job. He didn't really need me, but you know, it was a good call on his behalf. We lined up on the runway. We cleared for takeoff. We funded down the runway and we'd just got airborne. We were three, 400 feet above the ground when we had an emergency and Callum immediately was wrestling with the controls.

Peter Docker (14m 36s):
And in that moment, what I chose to do in the next couple of seconds, two beats, that's all it would take. What I chose to do would fundamentally affect whether I and the 140 people on boards would survive or not. And here's the thing I chose to do. Absolutely nothing. I sat there with my hands in my lap, quite calmly as Callum sorted out the problem. So intervene would have not made sense. I just signed them up the day before. It was fully qualified to find the same craft anywhere in the world. So if I'd had any doubts that he could have all the situation, I would have had no business signing him up, but all I needed to do in that moment was not to leave, but to become a great follower, Callum, to feel that I had his back and I needed to get out of the way and allow him to do his job.

Peter Docker (15m 36s):
So this coined the phrase for me leading from the jump seat, because this is what actually happened on that flight day, lap day, but also it's a metaphor for life and for work, you know, at some stage we will hand over control. It's inevitable either as the CEO will retire. If we're a team leader or switch perhaps to another team, or as we mentioned earlier, parenting, you know, our kids grow up, leave home and start leading their own lives. And so it's inevitable that we hand over control leading from the jump seat is all about how do we lead in the moment, intentionally setting other people up. So as they can, they're fully prepared to take the lead jumpseat leadership is not about retaining or increasing your own power.

Peter Docker (16m 25s):
It's about leaning away that you lift others up and empower them so they can carry forward. Those things that you feel are deeply important, those ideals that you share. So that's the whole starting point for jumpsuit leadership really? And the metaphor is carried on throughout, throughout the book.

Mark Graban (16m 44s):
Yeah. It's such a compelling story to start the book. And there, there are so many things that we could sort of unpack and dig into related to that story. I mean, for one, you know, I think of, of Callum as being that new officer, I'm sure he felt a sense of pride and rightfully so accomplishment and having this opportunity, but I appreciate you use the word courage. And I think that applies the courage to ask for help. And I think combined with that is the humility that's there to ask for help. And so I was wondering what your thoughts are between military culture, other organizations, how do we create a culture that invites that, that, that, that, that, and I think there is a connection to the Toyota sort of this idea of speaking up, pointing out problems, asking for help.

Mark Graban (17m 34s):
You know, if in doubt, ask for help as part of the culture there. W what do you think about creating a culture where it's safe for people to speak up that way?

Peter Docker (17m 44s):
Well, I think the military certainly doesn't always get right. However, there are, there are some basics that have served professional military organizations around the world for, for many centuries, and certainly where it starts as you have a group of people who share common drivers, not all the same, but common drivers in terms of, for example, putting others before self. During the 2003 Iraq war, I led best part of 200 people flying large unarmed undefended air refueling aircraft. Our job was to give away gas, to find a jet. And we tended to get shot out from the, the ground defenses, which, you know, was a bit unsettling at best.

Peter Docker (18m 31s):
And yet all of my people instinctively got into those aircraft and did what they did not for themselves. They overcame the fear because actually for the love of the people wearing similar uniforms to them on the ground who were reliance on the air support that we provide, and if they didn't get that, they would likely die. And by people on the ground, I'm talking about British American Australian forces who had never met, but were aligned on us. And, you know, it was very natural to, to sense fear, but we do have a choice how we respond and it can trigger courage.

Peter Docker (19m 11s):
And we can use that courage to source ourselves and replace a love for something. In the case of my Iraq war example, it was the love for fellow serviceman who depended on us. And so any organization, when you're very clear on what the mission is, what the purpose is, the vision where you're going. And that gives a context of framework within which people can operates, and then touching mark on what you're talking about, the humility side of it. Again, the military gives us, gives us some useful cues here as to how we can create an organization. That's embodied humility.

Peter Docker (19m 54s):
When a junior officer passes out of officer school, when they graduate, they will often be put in charge of people who are junior junior in rank to them, but senior in years and senior and experience. And so humility is built in because those young officers who fly for the ones who turn to the people on their team and ask for their input, ask for their view, drawing on their collective genius to help solve the challenges they're facing. That's what makes a young officer successful the guy or the girl who's as right. This is just following me in charge.

Peter Docker (20m 36s):
Well, that's not sustainable. You know, so it is built in through the training to, to learn how to ask questions and to listen and to gain the insights of your team. And I think from what you've taught me, mark, you know, Toyota is very good nurturing this, this culture you've got a, or Toyota have got a, a focus on what they're trying to accomplish, particularly around, for example, quality again, from what I, I know I'm no expert, but this is, is universally known, I think the Toyota approach, but then they encourage people to speak up and offer that feedback.

Peter Docker (21m 18s):
And for leaders or people in positions where leadership is expected to have the humility to listen. But then the third thing, which I think crosses over well to companies that thrive is the sense of belonging. Now in the military, we all wear a uniform. I should say, I left back in 2007, so I'm a bit out of date, but nonetheless, you know, we all wear a uniform in the military and that is the starting point for creating a sense of belonging. But also there's a great ethos based around squadrons or regiments or a shepherd, if your, on the maritime side. And that nurtures that sense of belonging.

Peter Docker (21m 59s):
A reason that is so important is that when people feel like belong, then they're more likely to contribute to go above and beyond whatever their contract of employment says. You know, that comes from a sense of belonging and we nurture a sense of belonging by showing that we care. So, you know, all these things are present in the military when, at their best, even though they may not express them in those terms. And I think if we look at organizations in the commercial world, such as Toyota, if we have a look through that, those lenses of, you know, be committed to a high purpose, having humble confidence to listen and not allowing ego to get in the way and nurturing a sense of belonging, we would see all of those things present in organizations such as Toyota.

Mark Graban (22m 55s):
Yeah. Yeah. I think there's a theme of, you know, Toyota talks very specifically about leading with humility, listening to people, asking questions, not as, as leader, not being the one with all the answers. Absolutely. And I think to your story there from, from being literally in the jump seat, I compare and give credit where there are times where my inaction is, honestly, me freezing and not knowing what to do or not knowing what to say. You being a military veteran, you know, experienced and tested and times of, of war.

Mark Graban (23m 46s):
The, the, the one thing that's fascinating, there is the choice to not intervene in a very high pressure situation. Like that takes a real strength of, of conviction in that moment under pressure.

Peter Docker (24m 1s):
Does, you know, the, there is a difference between a reaction and response, which I think is useful in this, at this point, mark, you know, we react is often visceral. You know, it's often emotionally based. Now that can be useful if we're jumping back from the, the, the road as the car is coming along, you know, that reaction is useful, but reaction generally takes the form of fight flight or fight, sorry, freeze flight, or fight, doesn't it, you know, this is, this is commonly understood. And in certain situations where our life is not immediately on the line, those reactions of freeze, fight or flight do not necessarily serve as well.

Peter Docker (24m 47s):
Picking up on the aircraft example. Again, I can tell you that when the fire alarm indicating an engine, fire goes off on an aircraft flight deck that catches your attention. There's a big red lights and a chuffing lounge bell that tells you you've got an engine fire now for the untrained pilots, the chances are you would, you would phrase, no, there's nothing to fight you. You can't run away. Cause that would really upset in the passengers. And so the propensity is to freeze. Now that is not helpful in that situation. So what do we do?

Peter Docker (25m 28s):
We train pilots. So as they can respond and their response in this situation, and this example is one that's been built up by engineers and pilots sitting in a nice, comfortable room with coffee and all of the system design details and checklists to identify, right, what are the actions that we need to take in this situation? And so when that is then drilled into pilots, they can react to the situation, you know, in that quick timeframe, the otherwise you'd be freezing, but they react to using a response and the responses are considered series of actions.

Peter Docker (26m 12s):
Now we can translate that into the commercial world as well. You know, let's take something which is often the forefront of many businesses. What happens if we get a data breach? Well, that is something that we can predict. We can sit down and carefully work out a checklist of actions to take. And then that is the one few time, one of the few occasions when command and control, if you like telling people what to do is, is valuable because it's pre considered actions through a response rather than a reaction. And so there are a lot of things that can translate to replace that freeze instincts with something that is useful.

Mark Graban (26m 59s):
Yeah. And in that, that moment, that, that, that pressure packed moment, or it, you know, in the book, you alluded to a similar crisis moments, the quote unquote miracle on the Hudson, captain Sullenberger and his co-pilot scaling, who I tried to give credit to because captain Sullenberger always emphasizes that that was a team. Absolutely. But when they had that event, I mean, they, they, they, my, my recollection of hearing them tell the stories that they did not have a precise checklist for what happens if both engines were taken out by birds chest after takeoff from a New York airport, but they did have checklists about trying to restart the engines, evaluating where to land like the skill and the moment was piecing together those plans.

Mark Graban (27m 54s):
But I, I think that's, that's a brilliant insight of, you know, kind of trying try and doing our best to anticipate likely events, even if we can't anticipate every exactly.

Peter Docker (28m 6s):
I, I agree. And to pick up on that mark, cause I think you make a really valid point in flying. And also my military experience, we used to plan a lot. We used to plan for every eventuality when I was 25 years old, I was fortunate enough to be one of the few pilots to fly our prime minister around the world. And boy, oh boy, to be planned to the nth degree, you know, we would look before a trip, we'd look at all the different permutations of runway departure of rival weather, where would be parking because the aim was to arrive on time to the second, no matter how far we were flying, that was part of the, the job because it was a diplomatic state visit.

Peter Docker (28m 53s):
And so it used to plan everything. Now, sometimes something would occur on that flight, which we had not anticipated, but that was okay because having planned all the things that could go wrong, it gave us the confidence and also the capacity mental capacity to deal with those things that arose that we hadn't predicted. And the same with captain captain, certainly there, they like every commercial airline crew will have practiced single engine failure, double engine failure, relighting drills, and also significantly ditching drills to ditch the aircraft in water.

Peter Docker (29m 33s):
They had quite a few things going on there, which all came together, which resulted in them landing on the Hudson. But the point I think, which is really worth bringing out of that story is that chances are, they may not have met one another, that crew until about an hour and a half before takeoff. And yet the pre-determined responses to emergencies, which they'd all trained in beforehand, allowed them to take the actions they needed, which resulted in the gray a great outcome outcome they have. And I want to shout out to the cabin crew. You know, I I'll tell you from a pilot perspective upfront on the controls with that locked door behind you, it's easy, huge acknowledgements to coming crew often, very young as well, who have to manage and take care of all those passengers or scan out the woods and huge respect for the work they do often undervalued.

Mark Graban (30m 40s):
And, and that, that was my mistake for not also acknowledging them because captain Sullenberger does include them as part of that team for helping evacuate the plane in an orderly quick, effective way. Yeah. Many

Peter Docker (30m 56s):
How softer Tom Hanks for portraying it. So, well, I think did a great job though,

Mark Graban (31m 3s):
But you know, there there's a parallel just to connect dots there. Cause I, checklists are used a lot in healthcare inspired from, I think a lot in many cases, aviation practices and his famous book, the checklist manifesto that talks about the application of checklist in different settings, checklists are a form of what Toyota might call standardized work. You know, the language we would use in, in the lean terminology, but the way you articulated is something I've also heard from Toyota folks is that when you have these game plans and procedures or checklists that frees up the mental capacity to deal with the unexpected, almost the exact same words that, that I heard from you.

Mark Graban (31m 46s):
So standardized work doesn't turn us into robots. So that's often a fear, right? Like we're not eliminating thinking, but we're trying to make sure that there's maybe not mental fatigue from making all sorts of decisions all day long that we, we, we save that capacity for something unusual occurring.

Peter Docker (32m 4s):
I agree. And I would add to that as well and something, I can't remember the engineer's name. I was watching a documentary some months ago about the early moon landings and the first Apollo mission to lambs. And as I'm sure you'll recall as the, the lunar module was descending towards the surface of the moon for the first time they had all these alarms going off and one of them was around low fuel and they had a whole host of other issues, largely centered around the computer being overloaded. I seem to recall, but I, I saw this documentary and they were interviewing one of the engineers who was at mission control.

Peter Docker (32m 51s):
And he said something quite remarkable. He said, when they got this one particular alert out of many, it was the worst thing that could have happened. But at that stage it was the worst possible faults that could have happened. But here's the remarkable thing he said when I got that alert, I relaxed you said, because I knew that nothing worse could happen and we'd plan for it. And we knew what to do. And I paused and reflected on that because that shows the, the mental capacity that we are given by planning how we're not just going to rack things, but respond to things.

Peter Docker (33m 39s):
We've done all of the thinking beforehand and that frees us up to be creative or address those things, which cannot be predicted

Mark Graban (33m 53s):
Coming back to your jumpseat story. I mean, there's so many aspects of this that I think are interesting. You go back to the idea of, well, you know, for, for one thought that comes to mind first is when you're talking about the sense of belonging, like that is very strong in healthcare. There may be on one level, a very strong sense of belonging to one person's field or discipline nurses feel a sense of belonging with other nurses, cardiothoracic surgeons feel a sense of belonging to other cardiothoracic surgeons. And on some level there's belonging to physicians as a group and belonging to healthcare providers as a group. But then there's the question of, and sadly, I think a lot of times people don't feel a sense of belonging to the organization that they were working at.

Mark Graban (34m 40s):
And, you know, I just think of one recent example. I think of a very positive example. Somebody I interviewed recently in a different series that, that I host called habitual excellence, Dr. Eric Dickson, who is the CEO of UMass Memorial health in Massachusetts. He has really done a lot. And as the chief executive officer to strengthen people's sense of belonging, not just to the sense of purpose and the patients, but sense of belonging to the organization in different ways during the pandemic, they were an organization that did a very Toyota like thing in terms of saying, no matter what happens here, there will be no furloughs.

Mark Graban (35m 22s):
There will be no layoffs as a way of trying to deepen the sense of loyalty to the organization. But then as, as Dr. Dickson describes, you know, him expressing his love and using that word love with, and that's a word like I don't, I think of like that, that becoming an even if you may not in a platonic sense, like you would be sent to human resources and to use the word at work.

Peter Docker (35m 49s):
I I'm glad you brought that word up because I think it is so important. There's a chart behind me with three letters on LCFF. You know, everything that's important to us, everything is driven by one of two things. It's either driven by fear or it's driven by love. And if it's driven by fear that, well, first of all, it's not sustainable. But what that drives is we tend to close down and focus on ourselves. We tend to have a view of the world of scarcity or winner takes all that can only be one way or the other. And that's going to be me at all costs. And we start to forget about other people.

Peter Docker (36m 31s):
And the ego often takes its fall and takes the fall or flip side of that. We could take a step back and become meek. You know, that's all fear based and it's not sustainable. It doesn't serve, but we always have a choice. And that choice is love. And the way that manifests itself in organizations and businesses. First of all, we have the view of the world that is full of possibility and opportunity rather than scarcity, where we have the capacity to think about others and being in service of others, rather than thinking about ourselves. And instead of ego, we are driven by a humble confidence and humble confidence is where we're absolutely resolute where we're going and the outcome was seeking.

Peter Docker (37m 21s):
I'm willing to take the decisions when they need to be made, but we have the humility to listen to the input of our team. So linking it to your, your medical example there, mark, you know, particularly during the pandemic, would it be easy to be driven by fear? Of course it was. And, you know, in extremis you would have had nurses and doctors not pitching out to work because the fear, but actually they use that fear as a warning flag and acting upon it by choosing love in Stan. And that's the love for the fellow human beings that lead to their health. And the thing that connects love and fear is the see on the chart behind me, which is courage.

Peter Docker (38m 1s):
You know, courage cannot exist without fear, but it can only be sustained through love. And so it's very clear in a medical field where there is this common bond of helping other human beings, but it can be generators in organizations in other sectors too. And I think that the love word is something that's, we're do well to talk more about, particularly as we move into this year and beyond, you know, I believe that there's going to be a greater focus, actually moving away from things like pay and benefits and more towards how people feel at work, whether they are cared for whether they are respected and whether they are lifted up or not.

Peter Docker (38m 47s):
And if they don't feel that if they don't get a sense of that and the sense of belonging that, that follows, then I think they vote with their feeds and they leave. Right.

Mark Graban (38m 59s):
And, you know, maybe in, in our workplaces, I mean, they do use the word love in healthcare quite a bit, but, you know, we, we could translate. I think if we talk about translating that to like a sense of deep respect, it's kind of the same thing, even if it's a different word.

Peter Docker (39m 16s):
Yeah. I think it was a Greek philosopher who said the word respect was created for the times when we felt we can use the word love. So there is a link between the two, so yes, respect actually absolutely works. Yeah.

Mark Graban (39m 35s):
And you know, you use that phrase, humble confidence. And, and th th this is a topic sometimes we've, we've, it's come up with other guests, like, can somebody become more humble or do the humble become more confident and, and to, to create sort of this, you know, this level of, of humble confidence,

Peter Docker (39m 57s):
I think there's a, an ongoing dynamic tension, certainly with myself. I know that I can sometimes, like, you might find it difficult, but I lack the confidence side of it. You know, I, I can easily retreat. In fact, there is a, a story in the book about when I took over command of a squadron in the Royal Air Force, I had so much time for the guy I replaced two, everybody seemed to love him. It was very a brilliant chap center of the party.

Peter Docker (40m 38s):
And everybody thought he was great. I thought, how the heck can I measure up to that? And I'm mistakenly thought, well, perhaps I just need to be like him be like Ian, you know, which big mistake. And it took me a while to, to recognize that. And I talk about that more in the book, but, you know, in the face of very, very comfortable people, I can actually take a step back. That's my natural instinct. So that's something I need to work on because becoming meek doesn't help anyone. And meek is that the extremity of humility, I guess. So humble confidence, the choice of words, there is very intentional because we need to work on recognizing where we are strong, having the confidence in our strengths whilst also making sure it doesn't get too far ahead of our humility and willingness to learn.

Peter Docker (41m 31s):
And the curiosity that keeps us on the straight and narrow there equally, if we go overboard on humility, become less confident about our strengths, then again, that doesn't help us. It's a dynamic tension that we need to maintain to ensure that one doesn't get ahead of the other. But for me, that's part of the fun of it. And the part of the, the, the constant developments in terms of leading myself and leading others.

Mark Graban (42m 2s):
And then there's one other element of the story and the situation that, that you were in, in the jump seat, you know, kind of a leadership under pressure situation. I think a lot of people face maybe in other settings, the short term, survival need the need to fight the proverbial fire, or, you know, in, in the moment versus, and I think maybe you used the word stands. So maybe I, and correct me if I'm not using your framework correctly, but we would have one stand that says, I love everybody on board and I care about their safety and we need to survive. I take that seriously.

Mark Graban (42m 42s):
Then there's also the stand that says I've signed off on this person. I believe in them. I'm I need them to develop. And what, what, what happens under under pressure, if, if some of these standards or beliefs or goals come into conflict right there in the moment?

Peter Docker (43m 1s):
Well, yeah, she kind of have, I call it a conflict of commitments. And first of all, of course, this point events of the emergency out of San Francisco, there is a lot that happened before that, in terms of the relationship I have with Calum, the guy in the, the, the seat in the captain seats, in terms of the training and the skillset that were developed in him, you know, th this, this wasn't from a standing start, there was a lot of history there, a lot of investment that been made in Callum that led to him being signed off as accountant. So I think that's very important because the, there is a tendency in, in many companies I see in where people are given accountability for things, and they haven't been given the, the, the training or the skill set to, to help them deal with it.

Peter Docker (43m 53s):
You know? So there was a lot that, that went on before then, but let's take it a little bit further because I think what, what this can lead to is when do you take back control? And later on the book, I talk about the four red lights moments. And this was when I was in the captain seat and I had a junior pilots as the co-pilots and we're flying into Gander and you found lands and the weather wasn't that great. The visibility was good, but it was quite blustery. And when you're flying into a major airport, you have what I call the precision indicators.

Peter Docker (44m 33s):
And these are four lines either on one side of the Royal, both sides, the wrong way. And those four lights can each shine, either rant or white. And if you see two red lights and two white lines, it means that you're on the correct approach, angle, the correct glide slope, as it known, as it's known, if you see three whites and one red, you're going too high to land safely, if you see three red and one white, you're going too low. And if you see four reds, you're way too low, and you could hit an obstacle on the approach path. And this John, I, I changed the name. John, I think I called him in the book, was flying the approach. And we started off with two red and two white lines that that's good.

Peter Docker (45m 16s):
But then it started to go to three rents and one wines, I were going to low. And I said to him, I called it out below the approach path below the slope. And he acknowledged, but he shouldn't, he should have taken action, which was to apply a bit more power on the engines, but he didn't, but I allowed him to continue because it was still okay. It was still safe. We're still a way back. But then it started to go into four red lights that stage. I called it out again, going way below the glide slope. He acknowledged, but didn't take action. So I didn't even then take over control. I reached across, I pushed the throttles forward a little bit, which was the action that was needed.

Peter Docker (45m 58s):
And we regained the correct approach, a slope, and we landed safely and we talked about it afterwards. So here's the thing, what is your four red lights moments? And by that, I mean, if I don't allow it to go on any further, it, the situation would have gone beyond that when I would have been able to recover it myself. No, but it's important to go to that limit, to know that limit, because if I'd taken control from John at that moment, I'd a practice balloon of confidence. He wouldn't have learned, and that could have taken many, many months if not longer.

Peter Docker (46m 40s):
So recover that and what a waste that would have been. So what is your four red light moments? Does it matter if the guy screws up? That's a good question, too. Yeah. And it's an opportunity to, to help the person spiral up from them as state, rather than spiral down. And well, the guiding principle there for me was when does the, I think there's was star Trek, actually, when did the leads and the many overcome the needs, the fuel, the one, you know, I was able to recover that situation, ensuring that the needs of the co-pilot John was meant, and we didn't have a spiral down moments or prick his balloon and confidence whilst also looking after the needs of the many, I, all the passengers on the aircraft and ensuring that we landed safely.

Peter Docker (47m 27s):
So these are the things that I, I think about when we have that conflict arising inside of us, you know, what's my four ed lights moment. When do I take over control? And I think what I see in industry is a propensity to take over control much earlier than we should. And that has such a far-reaching negative effects on the other person situation and their growth.

Mark Graban (47m 52s):
And I agree, and I see a lot of that too. And to connect it back to Toyota, you know, the Toyota emphasizes two things. One is people development, like not just solving the problem at hand, but doing so in a way that develops people. So John shuck who have a long career at Toyota and was at the lean enterprise Institute, always expresses it as, as this. He says, as a leader, if you jump in, if you take control back, if you give the answer, if you tell them what to do, you've, you've stolen the opportunity from that other person to figure it out themselves and to develop through that learning.

Mark Graban (48m 35s):
So I think there are a lot of more mundane moments in the workplace where, to your point, this is not life or death. If, if you give somebody the authority to do something and you fear they're doing it wrong, really what, what's the worst impact of that? There could be some settings in an operating room that are strictly life or death with the attending, supervising a resident. But there, there are many, many moments where I agreed leaders jump in and it ends up circumventing the people development, like you said, it's less sustainable, or it's less scalable. If the leader is going to constantly jump in and tell people what time

Peter Docker (49m 18s):
I think there's another issue with that as well. You know, we are all well, the whole education system and the way we enter work, molds this in a certain way. You know, when you go to university or college to become an engineer, get your engineering degree and your, your post-graduates, you are specializing and you're becoming very, very good in a particular area. You are then hired because you're good at figuring out the answers and that's great. But then if you do really well, chances are you will get promoted and you're no longer the person doing the designs or sorting the engineering problem.

Peter Docker (49m 59s):
You're looking after the people who are sorting out the problem, and that's where the biggest hiccup can occur, because we love to solve the problems. Certainly engineers, I've got great friends who are engineers love to solve problems. That's what we do as engineers. And so letting go of that is very difficult, but here's the thing it's essential. If we want to accelerate the team, because if we remain the person who is always going to be the girl, the girl who's got the answer, then we become the constriction in the pipe because our team can only advance as quickly as we can come up with the answer.

Peter Docker (50m 39s):
However, if in stands, we are guided by our standards. What we believe in. If we have the humble confidence on listening, power, the collective genius of our team, and become comfortable leading. When we don't know the answer, then we're no longer the constriction, the pipe and the performance of our team accelerates rapidly. And that takes a great suppression of ego and it takes humility and it takes the confidence to be able to put your hand up and say, look, I don't know the answer here, but let me tell you the reason it's really important. We've got to figure out and I'm going to hold the space where you collectively can help learn our way through the problem.

Peter Docker (51m 24s):
And that's when innovation occurs. That's when energy starts to increase within the organization. And that's when people step up and start to lead as well and come up with their fresh ideas and the whole organization accelerates. And that's the exciting thing. And that's the opportunity that comes with jumpsuit leadership to,

Mark Graban (51m 45s):
And it seems like, again, I'm looking over your shoulder. It seems like the one responsive leaders might be driven by fear. I fear that they're going to do the wrong thing. So therefore I jumped in as opposed to having love or respect to allow them to, to learn and grow and develop much more sustainable. And Toyota uses language around long-term perspective, making decisions that emphasize the long-term perspective, even at the expense of the short term. Now those decisions are probably again, not often life or death decisions, but, you know, I think of, again, back to Dr.

Mark Graban (52m 26s):
Dickson at UMass, you know, early in the pandemic, the price of PPE skyrocketed, tripled quadrupled, and they made the decision well, we'll, we'll spend what we have to spend to get the right personal protective equipment for our staff, because it's the right thing to do because we loved them. Like it was based on these principles and standards. And so we'll figure out the financials later, as opposed to organizations that maybe said, well, we can't exceed our budget, but well, that's our own constraint. You know, that that would be put in place as opposed to doing, you know, doing what, what they did at UMass.

Peter Docker (53m 7s):
And it's different in context, you know, there are only two things in this world, there's content and there's context, content of the stuff that we do, the work that we're engaged in and things that we say, but content has got no meaning whatsoever. Without context. Context is like the, the picture on the jigsaw puzzle box. You know, without that all the puzzle pieces on the table don't mean a damn thing. But when you see the picture on the box, you can see how they come together. Now linking it to the example you've just given in the medical environments. If the context was we've got to minimize costs in every regard, then it would make sense to, you know, go for the cheaper PPE, the non-certified stuff or whatever.

Peter Docker (53m 51s):
But if your context is well, no, I really care for our people. And I care for my people. Not only because it's the right thing to do, but over the long-term, this is how we make what we're doing sustainable here. You know, if our own people get sick, then how can they care for others? So if that's your puzzle, picture the picture on the puzzle box, then you bring the puzzle pieces together in a, a different way. Know. So context is everything. And sometimes there is an opportunity to either aluminate the contents. In this example, remind people, look, we really care for our people in our team. So we we've got to get the right PPE or shift the context.

Peter Docker (54m 35s):
If people are focusing on, on different things, shift it back to the context that you feel is the most generative for the longterm and in service of your people and what you stand for as an individual and as a company.

Mark Graban (54m 49s):
So before we wrap up, I just want to highlight one other thing from the book that, that I really liked and serve an ongoing framework throughout the book. When it comes back to developing people, you talked about how Callum as that new pilot was fully trained, fully prepared to be accountable. As, as, as you said, far too often, people get thrown into a role of, of responsibility without being properly prepared, which I think is, you know, it's unfair and counterproductive in, in many ways. And in the book you have this framework of, you know, being progressing as a leader. One, I'm going to just read it off real quickly here.

Mark Graban (55m 30s):
One learning to fly, to flying three, teaching others, how to fly and then for leading from the jump seat. And, and, and I think the parallel there would be applicable in many contexts.

Peter Docker (55m 46s):
Absolutely. And a learning to fly as is figuring out what's really important to you. You know, if we want to lead others, we need to figure out how to lead ourselves. And that that's the continuous journey, but it starts with figuring out what's deeply important to you. What are your non-negotiables? What do you stand for? And so typically that would be somebody perhaps starting college university, that sort of age. And even if they're not at college or university, but then you, you're getting into employment and you're really in flow, you're doing great, well actually flying, but then you get promoted and you're taking care of the people who are doing the work and that's you teaching others to fly. And then finally you're in that place where you can take a step back in slack, jump seats, and then you'll lean from the jumpsuit.

Peter Docker (56m 28s):
But here's the thing, which I think is really important for us. All, we can be at different stages of those four in different areas of our life. So for example, yesterday, I had the great privilege of meeting up for the first time in over 20 years, someone I mentioned the book left on in general. So James Dutton, KCB CBE has been 90 twice by a mash to the queen once is significant, but twice, you know, phenomenal. I worked with him and our ministry of defense when I was in the military and I size him as one of the best leaders I've ever had the privilege to work alongside. And here's now long since retired, he's at her commercial career as well after leaving the military.

Peter Docker (57m 12s):
But here he is now approaching, I think his early seventies and while he was very much leading from the jump season, his professional career, he is now learning to fly again and learning a fly is figuring out what's he going to do in his retirement? You know, what's next for him. And so it can be for, for all of us, we might be flying or teaching others to fly at work, but we might be learning how to scuba dive. Well, we're right back to the end of the, the bottom of the scale yet. And I think recognizing this for me, it's really useful to have that lens, to recognize where I am and anything that I'm doing in my life, because it keeps me curious. It keeps me humble and confidence, and it keeps me moving forward.

Peter Docker (57m 54s):
And throughout all of those four stages, what gives them that handrail are those things that are deeply important to me, the non-negotiables mutual respects, not being a burden on others, helping others. And this helps me move forward even into the unknown.

Mark Graban (58m 12s):
So Peter really enjoyed your perspectives here between the book and what you've shared with us today. Our guest again has been Peter Docker. The book is leading Leading From The Jumpseat: How to Create Extraordinary Opportunities by Handing Over Control. And you can learn more about the book and, and, and more about Peter leading from the jump Peter, this has been a real treat today. Thank you for your time. Thank you for being a guest.

Peter Docker (58m 42s):
It's been my absolute pleasure. Thank you for your great questions.

Mark Graban (58m 45s):
Well, again, thanks to Peter Docker for being a great guest today. I again want to thank Chris Burnham from the Lean Leadership Podcast for the introduction and the connection here. So again, to learn more about Peter and his work in his book, look in the show notes in your podcast app, or you can go to

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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