Prediction: The Five Leadership Abilities™

Prediction,  you and your team’s ability to predict, is one of The Five Leadership Abilities.  To master the discipline of prediction is to overcome the feeling of being stuck, overwhelmed, and frustrated.  Your ability to predict will help you avoid “hitting the ceiling” and break through it. When we describe prediction, we refer to both long and short term.  Long-term prediction is your ability to plan 90 days and beyond.  On the other hand, short-term prediction depends on your ability to compartmentalize™ and prioritize all of your daily and weekly issues.  If you do not predict, you and your team will end up directionless.  Issues will pile up and remain unresolved.   To fail to predict is to set yourself up for disaster. 

A Personal Story 

I will share a personal story that invokes prediction in its purest form: I have flown millions of airline miles, so I am quite the seasoned traveler.  For some background, I am also a commercial pilot. As such, I have an intimate knowledge of air traffic control (ATC) and airline operations.   I enjoy the challenge of trying to predict the probability of my airplanes’ on time departure, delays, and even the dreaded cancellation.  I predict so I can prepare to adjust before something happens. When everyone else is scrambling to adjust, my plan B is already at the ready. Last Thursday night put my prediction skills to the test.  I was at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) and had to get home to New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA).    The weather gods were NOT cooperating (“Thursday flight headaches: Delays hit Northeast“). 

The Tools a Seasoned Traveler Uses to Predict and Plan

I knew that delay was a certainty and cancellation a possibility, so I went into full prediction mode.   I pulled out my arsenal of tools and started to run my algorithms.  There are a host of iOS Apps for times like these that have become my prediction resources for this exact situation.  These tools include:

Flight Delay Information

The Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC) balances air traffic demand with system capacity in the National Airspace System (NAS). You can get access to current flight delay information at:

Flight Information

FlightAware is the world’s largest flight tracking data company which offers free flight tracking of both private and commercial aircraft.


Electronic Flight Bag


Pilots worldwide depend on ForeFlight Mobile.  ForeFlight helps plan and file flight plans, access preflight and in-flight weather, download and view electronic charts and maps, manage flight publications, log flight time, and more.  


Real-Time Weather

Storm for iPhone and iPad is the most advanced severe weather app available. It brings the highest definition radar, advanced storm tracking, and real-time severe weather alerts. Leave storm chasing to the pros and let Storm guide you to safety!


How Well Did I Predict?

My flight was originally scheduled to depart at 8:00 PM.  It was initially delayed until 9:50 PM, due to a late inbound aircraft.  I was able track the inbound via Flightaware and it seemed that we were on track.   We eventually boarded at 10:30 PM.  However, the plane did not push back from the gate in the normal course of operation.  I checked the FAA Flight Delay Information – Air Traffic Control System Command Center. Bad news: A ground delay program for LGA due to low ceiling and low visibility. To address this update, I tracked the path of the weather front on Storm for iPhone.  It looked like the thunderstorms were going to pass in the next few hours. That was helpful information! We should have been able to get out of DTW that night.  As expected, the ground hold was lifted around 1:00 AM and the captain announced that we were cleared to depart for LGA.

Duty Time: A Complicating Factor

Unfortunately, by the time we got our release we had another issue.  Some of the crew on the plane had run out of duty time.   For those of you who are not intimately familiar with  pilot regulations, allow me to explain: There are specific FAA rules about how much time the crew is allowed to work before they are required to rest. Even if they are sitting on the tarmac, strict regulations prevent overtired crew members from making mistakes that could cost lives.   In the end, our flight was cancelled and all of my efforts to predict its departure that evening were foiled by FAR 117 –  Duty Time Limits and Flight Duty Period (FDP) Limits.   The next time I try to predict the departure of my flight I need to factor in duty time. Great! Another variable to add to my thought process.  Needless to say, my flight prediction tools worked, but for my oversight on duty time.  Even the best predictions can be affected by outside factors. 

When You Act, You Are No Longer Helpless

However, as I looked around at my fellow passengers, I noticed something. Everyone was angry, confused, and frankly, helpless. “What are we doing? Are we ever going to get out of here?”  I, on the other hand,  was in control of my own data and information. I was NOT helpless.  You too can be in control as you know what to do, how to predict, and how to plan accordingly. 

Do You Want to Learn More About How Prediction Can Help Your Team?