Podcast

Austin Hulbert – Leading in the Skies Reflecting on the Ground

Austin Hulbert is currently a Harvard Business School Candidate. He flew as a Strike Fighter Pilot flying for the US Navy and spent time as a fighter pilot instructor for the Navy, training a new generation of American fighter pilots.

Directly from Austin:

“I’m not any better because of my experiences, I’m not any worse because of it, I’m just different… and that’s the most important thing about leadership.”

“You can’t fake car[e] about someone because… when you don’t care about someone… you’re tacitly saying, ‘I think I’m better than you or you’re not worth my effort. You have to genuinely care about people to lead them.’”

“Push yourself a little bit at a time, and if you’re going to do something that is non-standard you have to think about it beforehand and say, ok on this time I’m going to be more aggressive here because I think I can do it.”

“Pushing yourself little by little to make yourself better… gives you the hindsight to say, ‘Wow I was pushing myself too much back then or I wasn’t pushing myself enough back then’, and that can shape your future of how you look at pushing the boundaries.”

During this episode, he shared stories about the loss of a parent and its impact on his views on life and leadership. It was clear in our conversation that he is an individual who is constantly seeking personal growth and development. Austin did this so often that he found moments where he got ahead of himself. It was through asking big life questions that he was able to shift his mindset to chasing things to enjoying the precious moments of life.

Austin discussed the challenge of learning how to provide honest and open feedback to subordinates, and the uniqueness of allowing the context of your situation to inform decisions in how you lead.

As a student (Cadet) leader at the Naval Academy, he learned the importance of modeling behavior, to motivate and inspire others. He described how maintaining high expectations for yourself directly influences the decisions and actions of your subordinates.

As a student (cadet) leader at the Naval Academy, he learned the importance of modeling behavior, to motivate and inspire others. He described how maintaining high expectations for yourself directly influences the decisions and actions of your subordinates.

As a fellow member of the military, we understand the power of peer leadership rotations. They are the hardest people to take leadership of because everyone is on the same playing field. This is where Austin honed his ability to motivate people, “not being a jerk”, and how to relate to others even better.

He shared a moment of failure with us from his days as a flight instructor. When he was unprepared it really showed. And just disappointing one person was enough for him to double down on his efforts to ensure that it didn’t happen again.
“The best advice my mom gave me – you are no better than the people you lead. It is just a different path. Not better just different.”

You can find Austin at his linkedin account below.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/austinhulbert