Sully: Authority and Authenticity

Eloquent in his brevity in his first speech (21 seconds long) after the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ crash landing, Capt. Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger just had his first lengthy interview on ’60 Minutes.’ His legend continues.

There are many perspectives to analyze, laud and talk about when we consider this unique hero. It’s the intention here to emphasize how the ‘communication experience’ Sully creates is that which reflects the man accurately. It is so rare that happens when a man or woman is NOT trying to make a ‘presentation.’

He was uniquely brief in his first (of many) ceremonies honoring him, which reflects perhaps why he was also uniquely brief in his communications with the air traffic controllers when under intense pressure to pilot his aircraft to escape disaster. And he did it.

“I was sure I could do it,” he said to Katie Couric in the interview – and we believed him. And we believed him throughout this long (for him) interview. (See complete 60 Minutes here.) When Sully said he had to ‘force himself to use his training to force calm on the situation’ Katie asked, “Was that a hard thing to do?” Sully replied, “No, it just took some concentration.”

So cool, so task oriented (thank God) and so even in temperament. Is he a machine? No – and I (we) teared up along with him when his eyes filled as he reflected on the human lives involved, and the humanity effected by this epic event.

Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger is a hero, deservedly so. He is uncomfortable with carrying this mantel, by his own admission. And yet he acknowledged that this is a time where we want and need heroes – men and women of character and integrity that we can look to for guidance. People need to be inspired by role models who have authority and authenticity, and Sully Sullenberger has that. And he communicates that.

I truly hope that he sees his role now not in flying airplanes, but in using his new platform to teach us a thing or two about discipline, teamwork and leadership. I hope he continues to motivate people in his communications – he is so naturally good at it. Brief yet always making a point, getting out of his own way, and showing a slight smile with great eye contact. He connects. With authority and authenticity.

Sully, we want more…

2 comments on “Sully: Authority and Authenticity

  1. Mr. Decker,
    Thank you (as always) for capturing and sharing the essence of gifted communicators.
    Captain Chesley Sullenberger personifies greatness, but in no way more tangible than his gift of humble and honest communication.
    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,
    Brian Humphrey
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department