“That was my personal Hudson moment,” says the rhetoric trainer with a pilot’s license afterwards. He thus alludes to the spectacular emergency landing of a passenger plane on the New York Hudson River in 2009. The story has already been filmed for the cinema. Flume’s serenity in this comparatively small incident was ready for Hollywood. “Only” his own life was in danger and not that of a few hundred passengers, but that is also enough to cause panic.
“With a very low pulse and a clear head, I could only master the situation because I already had many thousands of flight hours in my bones,” reports the trainer. He obtained his first flight permit 17 years ago and further training continues today. Flume advises every manager in a stressful situation: “Believe in yourself and your experience, but also continuously educate yourself. Think about what you can do and don’t let external circumstances get you out of your way.”
IT emergency plans, PR disasters, employee accidents – in the end they are nothing more than an emergency landing by plane. “As a manager, you should be prepared for horror scenarios. Just as I practiced the emergency landing on every check flight, I had already worked through the simulator in courses for the various certificates and teaching authorizations, and before the flight, I should go through the checklists in my head, so managers should Know the risks and have an emergency plan for the most likely scenarios, “believes the 54-year-old. Depending on the individual case, you can also develop guidelines that draw in certain situations: with tips from communicating with the press to dealing with legal consequences.
Anyone who is unexpectedly in such a situation should definitely keep a cool head. “First, decision-makers should quickly analyze a situation and ask themselves what options are now available,” says Flume. Of course, it is important to understand the consequences of your own actions and non-actions. After considering the options, the decision should be made quickly. This does not have to happen within seconds, as with Flume’s emergency landing. However, the shortage of time is characteristic of most emergency, crisis and stress situations and quick action ensures damage is limited.
After Flume informed the tower in Zurich about his emergency landing, he didn’t have to worry about the details. “I could be confident that the runway was clear, the fire brigade was ready and the other planes were informed. This allowed me to concentrate on bringing the box down safely,” said the rhetorician. This is also the case in business: bosses should take care of their people’s qualifications long-term so that they can be relied on in the event of an emergency. “If you lead your team with confidence, you can count on your colleagues when you are stressed,” believes Nürtinger.
A clear announcement of how the emergency landing should go saved Flume’s life. “In such a moment there is no discussion with the tower, no question of what could be the right decision from the perspective on the ground.” Instead, he announced how he would handle the situation. In simple sentences. The others had to follow him. In the office, the emergencies are usually not life-threatening, but clear announcements without discussions are the right thing in stressful moments. This gives employees an orientation of what they want and allows them to concentrate entirely on the technical task. “Managers should still react to the feelings and wishes of employees that may arise.” So Flume then sought contact with the air traffic controller to thank them for the perfect cooperation.
For the body, stress means “running away” or “fighting”. The rational assessment of the situation falls by the wayside and therefore the best decisions are often not made. Therefore, in aviation, great importance is placed on expecting the pilots to have as little basic stress as possible so that, in the event of an accident, they still have enough stress processing capacity to react prudently.
In management, on the other hand, many managers who often have “no time” act in such a way that every reserve is already exhausted in normal operation. “When things get tight, the crash landing is programmed,” says Flume. So the manager should organize himself in such a way that he is also capable when it matters.