Taking Flight Through Teamwork

plane at gate

It is a fact that in the right formation, the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.  ~Author Unknown

I had a most interesting experience on a plane last week.  As we were preparing to depart from our gate the unexpected occurred…, we were unable to disconnect the jet bridge from the plane.  Apparently this particular airport was renovated recently and when the power went out on our jetway, no one knew where to find the breaker to see if it had been tripped and if power could be restored easily.

So we sat in the plane waiting to see if anyone could find the source of the power outage and fix the problem because as anyone knows,  backing away from the jet bridge while it is still attached is not the best standard operating procedure and I don’t think we would want to start flying when the cabin door was still open… I am having visions of that old movie where people were sucked out of the hole in the plan and ended up who knows where in the atmosphere…

Our pilot came over the loudspeaker a few times to update us on the progress, which was basically nada… I mean really… they could not find out where the circuit breaker was?  After a time, our pilot came back on the loudspeaker and told us that he had any idea… he didn’t know if it would work but he could only do it with our help.  He then suggested that approximately forty passengers from the front of the plane get up and step to the back of the plane so that the nose could be lifted up slightly to allow the coupling to be  worked free  allowing the bridge to be freed from the doorway.

There was no hesitation at all by any of those passengers in front of the plane.  They all got up and moved to the back of the plane in an orderly and calm fashion as many of us made acknowledging comments and smiled at them because they were going to be our heroes!  Within minutes the plane was disconnected from the jet bridge and the door to the cabin could be closed.  What a great example of true teamwork!  Unfortunately,  the plane was ready for takeoff but we had to go to the back of the line to get down the runway so we still had to sit on the plane for another thirty minutes before we could get in the air.

Were some people nervous about missing their connecting flights? Yes, but I did not hear near the amount of anxiety or frustration that I normally witness when a flight is delayed.  Could it be that witnessing the unusual circumstances and powerful process to literally lift us off of the ground to move us back from the bridge actually changed the way we viewed the next delay?

Why was this such a great example of true teamwork?  My thoughts are:

  1. An idea was presented by someone (the Captain) asking if the team would be willing to try out a possible solution to a problem.  The team members were able to make a choice about their participation which created a sense of ownership in the outcome.
  2. The team members all had to contribute in order for the solution to be a success (if only a handful of people had walked to the back of the plane we would not have gotten that nose lifted off of the ground).
  3. The team members who were not active participants in the actual task itself supported and acknowledged their peers for a job well done.
  4. A strong team will try on different tactics to get the best outcomes.  Some of the ideas will work (uncoupling the bridge from the door) and sometimes our ideas may not get us to the outcome as fast we would like because other priorities pop up (other flights had to get out ahead of us).  Regardless of the outcome,  a true team will stay positive and not let a delay in their action plan create a negative outlook on the entire experience.

True teamwork (whether it be husband and wife,  child and parent, or employee and employer) allows things to occur that we may have never thought possible…

When was a time that you experienced being part of a team that was energized to get a project or process off  the ground?

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