Helicopters Magazine

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Editorial: Seeking Authenticity

October 27, 2014  By Matt Nicholls

How corporate leaders conduct their business and why their decisions, personal conduct and attitudes work to build a strong corporate culture or erode it to dust is something that has always fascinated me.

How corporate leaders conduct their business and why their decisions, personal conduct and attitudes work to build a strong corporate culture or erode it to dust is something that has always fascinated me.

There are countless books on the topic of corporate leadership and many recount the undesirable follies of unscrupulous so-called leaders who have failed to lead, instead using their lofty positions for personal gain. It’s a sad commentary on how some leaders misuse power, but there are also countless examples of leaders of influence.

One of my favourite books is Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value by Bill George, the former CEO and Chairman of medical technology firm Medtronic. It’s a compelling read in which George analyzes important components of authentic leadership: working with purpose, value, heart, relationships and self discipline.

Many of the concepts discussed in the book came to mind as I was putting together this issue of Helicopters. Our cover story on Airbus Helicopters Canada, for example, is a wonderful piece that illustrates just how influential and impactful an organization can be. For more than 30 years, the Fort Erie, Ont.-based firm has been marketing, manufacturing, selling and assembling some of the most technologically advanced helicopters in the world. And with a large portion of Canadian operators using Airbus products – 190 operators with some 680 helicopters nationwide – its reach is certainly impressive. (For more on Airbus Helicopters Canada, see “Making Their Mark,” pg. 14.)


In preparing the piece, I had the opportunity to sit down with president and CEO Romain Trapp and Laura Senecal, Director of Public Relations and Corporate Affairs, to discuss the Airbus Helicopters Canada story in detail. I have also toured the Fort Erie facility on a number of occasions and it’s hard not to be impressed. Airbus’ commitment to the Canadian market and its dedication to the community and Niagara region is impressive and I was very pleased to see that Trapp is taking an active role in not only enhancing his personal knowledge of the Canadian operating environment but also the facility’s nuances.

And while the tangible aspects of what the company has accomplished, in terms of its helicopter development and its role in enhancing the safety envelope, is impressive, I am even more taken with what I like to call the people principle: how employees view the company and how they are impacted by what the company accomplishes in the industry. Perhaps it’s as simple as this: how do they like their job and how much pride do they have in what they do?

Tour the Airbus facility in Fort Erie and these points truly resonate. Every time I am present, the sense of pride and commitment to excellence holds true. The walls are adorned with various types of aircraft in action. Employees celebrate all aircraft deliveries and are always engaged and willing to share experiences. When they do, they always speak highly of the company’s role in the industry and the community. It’s a message that starts from the top, one that has been conveyed to me by Trapp himself. Leading with heart and purpose: George’s important authentic leadership premise is alive and well here.

Other pieces in this issue of Helicopters highlight such essential principles. Hydro One’s milestone 65th anniversary (see “Negotiating the Fly by Wire,” pg. 19) and “Exploits of Three Wise Men,” pg. 23 highlight how commitment and purpose have transformed the organizations led by key visionaries. Their exploits – hard work and dedication for change – have not only enhanced operational processes for the better but increased safety throughout the industry.

Our Q&A with Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) president and CEO Fred Jones (see “Making a Difference,” pg. 29) also builds on this premise. His leadership and commitment continues to ensure the future holds promise for operators from coast to coast.

As George notes, the premise of authenticity comes down to character and commitment – a desire to stay true to a plan and realize the intrinsic value of leading with the heart, working with compassion. These are the overriding principles we should all live by – both on the job and in every aspect of our lives. It’s nice to see all are alive and well in the Canadian helicopter industry.


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