Set the Tone

“Come on, we have to get this done to get the boss off of my back!” We have all experienced this scenario in our careers at one point. Maybe we were even the person saying this. Upon hearing our leader say something like this, we get an instant sense of stress. This does not help us function any better and is probably not going to “motivate” us to work any harder. It is just going to take any and all enjoyment out of the task.

When I became a flightline expediter, my trainer told me the Pro Super (the flightline boss) cares mainly about making the flying schedule happen, getting the planes mission ready, and the people are his last priority. The Pro Super’s life is the airplane and the people are the robots that repair them. It was my job to be the buffer in between. The Pro Super sets all the priorities and pushes the mission and essentially creates the atmosphere. Kind of like controlling the thermostat. It was up to me to set the tone for those who were working for me.

I found those bosses who let their stress show, received a horrible response from their team. They were the ones with the most lost tools, most disgruntled workers, and really got nothing done all shift. Their people were stressed and their moods were reflections of their leader’s. Then there were those that were just as stressed, but never showed it. Like a duck on the water; under the surface their feet were manic, but on the surface they were calm and collected. These are the same people who would tell jokes and listen to war stories before we got off the truck. However, when we worked for those who made work enjoyable, we were extremely productive and grew closer to one another. We wanted our driver to succeed and would give our all.

Both people received the same instructions and onto both the same demands were levied. Honestly, both probably felt equally as stressed. The difference is how they portrayed themselves to their teams. Just because we are having a bad day, doesn’t mean everyone around us needs to as well. Just because our boss is a jerk, doesn’t mean we need to be a jerk boss too. As leaders we set the tone. A good indicator of how we are doing is to look at those around us. Are they stressed? Are they working hard and having a good time? Are they only having a good time? Their behavior is a direct reflection of us.


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