Daniel Siegenthaler: Passionate Air Force Pilot and Expert on Leadership and Teamwork

06. January 2017 – Katharina Schlangenotto

“Those being professional pilots and having grown up in the Air Force know that there is no time for discussion in the air,” says Daniel Siegenthaler. Clearly, a leader of the Patrouille Swiss, flagship of the Swiss army and also for Switzerland as a country, must be familiar with precision and clarity.

In his lectures ,Daniel Siegenthaler talks about motivation and success strategies, leadership and team building. His talks  are peppered with adventourous anecdotes about life up in the air. To most people, it sounds like a life full of risks, for Daniel Siegenthaler and his team, it is just day- to-day business.

Teamwork is not a magic formula

He is convinced that teamwork is not a magic formula. There would be teams for something everywhere and teamwork could not be attached to a group just like a label. It needs work.

In order to form a top team, every single team member must think of himself as a full teamplayer. Furthermore, everyone needs a strong will to learn. The best soccer players for example would not succeed if they did not play together as a team.

“In my Air Force world, noone can keep quiet”, he explains. On the contrary, everyone must be able to speak up openly and even emotionally if something goes wrong. Daniel Siegenthaler does not seek for right or wrong but expects the team to correct the leader if he makes a mistake. The decision about what is to be done then remains with the leader.

In team leadership, it is all about open feedback

One time, his team did not speak up, he recounts and admits that he was really annoyed. He had miscalculated the fuel consumption and there was a critical bottleneck. Afterwards, back on the ground, one of his team members said: “I knew it.” Critical situations like this must be avoided by all means and if someone noticed a mistake, he would be obliged to soeak up. Of course, one’s own style of leadership should also be reflected: How do I lead my people so that they do not tell me such an important thing?

Trust and focus lead to a successful team

He talks a lot about trust, which, in a team, would be essential. Everyone must know at any time that they can rely on each other 100 percent. “In the Patrouille Swiss, we fly at distances of 3-5 meters between us with speeds of 200 and 1,200 kilometers per hour in an altitude of 30 to 100 meters,” he adds. “I need to be sure that everyone is 100 percent committed and focused. ” Focus, he explains, is only possible with a clear, comprehensible goal that applies to everyone.

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”
Daniel Siegenthaler quotes Seneker and adds that every single team member needed to be dedicated to this one goal only. Everyone needed to truly believe that a solution can only be found together.

Team or working group?

In many companies, team members would aim for different goals which ultimately would lead to trouble. It would be very important to clarify the mutual expectations in a team. Daniel Siegenthaler is convinced that only a culture of humanity and respect for each other, no matter if leader or team member, will guarantee long-term success.

Sometimes, it would also take courage to admit that a supposed team is in reality just a group of well-sructured people working together. As a consequence, team-building events, which are most of the time also cost-intensive, should be given up as well as they won’t do any good.

Book excellent speaker and Air Force pilot Daniel Siegenthaler for your next event! Contact us at: daniel.siegenthaler@premium-speakers.com

Daniel Siegenthaler

Leadership - TeamWork by Pilots