A Fighter Pilot’s Lessons on Leading with Courage – Kim “KC” Campbell

How do you take action and lead with courage in the middle of fear? When you’re scared of treading tough ground with your team, that’s when you should prepare and take action to set yourself up for success.

In this episode of the Inspirational Leadership podcast, I speak with Kim Campbell, a retired Air Force Colonel who served in the Air Force for over 24 years as a fighter pilot and senior military leader. She has flown 1,800 hours in the A-10 Warthog, including more than 100 combat missions protecting troops on the ground in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2003, Kim was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism after successfully recovering her battle-damaged airplane after an intense close air support mission in Baghdad. She has experience leading complex organizations and driving cultural change. Kim is passionate about leadership and feels strongly that leaders earn trust by leading with courage and connecting with their team.

Listen in to learn the importance of taking a step back in a critical situation and realize that you do have what it takes. You will also learn how to create a high-trust environment where people feel safe to share feedback and connect with you as a leader.

Key Takeaways:

  • Get your “step up voice” louder by preparing for failure and practicing visualization techniques.
  • How to be vulnerable and ask for support when needed to be the best leader you can be.
  • How to show your team the human side of you to connect and create trust between you.
  • The importance of taking a step back in a critical situation and realizing that you do have what it takes.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • [2:34] Kim shares the moment that changed her life, and she wanted to become a fighter pilot.
  • [5:09] She explains how she used rejections as inspiration and motivation to improve herself.
  • [8:24] How she prepares for failure and rejection, plus the techniques that help her overcome.
  • [11:14] Why sharing your overcoming story can help others overcome and be successful.
  • [13:34] The importance of showing the human side of leadership to connect with your team.
  • [18:53] How to build an environment of trust with your team and make it easier to hold them accountable.
  • [23:42] Kim describes the empowering yet terrifying moment when she went into combat.
  • [32:30] Learn that it’s okay to fail and make mistakes but also walk away with lessons from those situations.
  • [35:18] How to create a safe environment where your people can share their feedback without fear.
  • [39:12] The importance of taking action and leading with courage in the middle of fear.

Standout Quotes:

  • “When we’re vulnerable, we create an environment of trust, and people are more willing to give feedback and point out a problem.”– Kim [20:35]
  • “In moments when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, it’s best to take that step back, take a deep breath, and realize that you do have what it takes.”– Kim [30:48]
  • “It is okay to be afraid, it is okay to be scared, but you have to put yourself in a position to now take action.”– Kim [40:37]

Listen to the podcast here:

Watch the video here:

Resources Mentioned:

Kim’s website

Connect with Kim on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

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