3 Steps to Servant Leadership and Building CFI Success


3 Steps to Servant Leadership and Building CFI Success ~Guest Blogger Tom Dorl

I like to keep things simple when I fly. I aim to teach that simplicity to my students. If you are an instructor, you’re familiar with the Aviation Instructor’s Handbook. Chapter 8 is replete with over 10 responsibilities for all instructors, and a healthy dose of insight on professionalism. Keeping things simple, I like to distill these responsibilities and concepts into a simpler approach for instructors. Here are a few thoughts to complement your instructional approach to teaching your students when you connect with them, grow with them and serve them.

Connect - Meet your student where they are. Seek to understand their motivations, fears, desires and dreams so you can craft a rewarding and memorable flight instruction journey. If you are the first instructor they have interacted with, you have a great opportunity to connect with them. By finding common ground, their learning experience and your teaching acumen will only improve. Building that rapport on the ground, will translate very well when you introduce new concepts to your students.

Grow - As aviators, we all must grow our skills and abilities via learning and training. As an instructor your main job is to teach, but it is also to learn. Take time to grow your skills, knowledge, and abilities. Learn other techniques for your instructional repertoire and find new methods to convey your knowledge. As you grow in your skills, your students will grow, learn more and become lifelong learners in the ever-changing aviation ecosystem. Additionally, if you seek growth in your instructor journey, you are making a commitment to improve your craft and provide a better service to your students.  If your student learns and grows, it is natural that you will as well.

Serve - Your role as an instructor is to also serve your students. Serve them by providing the best ground and flight instruction as you can. Recent flight instruction accidents reveal that professionally serving the student is vitally important. If you connect well with your students, your service could likely last a lifetime. You also serve as a leader and mentor to your students from the first lesson all the way through their check ride and even beyond. One mark of a good CFI is if after their check ride, your student continues to reach out for you for advice insight and feedback.

By following these three simple actions, you will become a better instructor and mentor to your students. Ideally, by connecting, growing and serving them across their aviation journey, this will help them become better and safer pilots. 

Tom Dorl, CFII/MEI/ATP/Rotor
NAFI Board Member
NAFI #216020




Blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace independent, professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinions or position of the National Association of Flight Instructors. NAFI does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented. Readers should note content may appear in various media, including print, email, enews without further notice.
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