640: How to Bring a Large Team Together, with Tom Burbage

Coaching for Leaders

Jul 17 2023 • 39 mins

Tom Burbage: F-35 Tom Burbage retired from the Lockheed Martin Corporation in 2013. He was the President of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems Company and the Executive VP/GM for both the USAF F-22 Raptor and the multi-service, allied next generation fighter, the F-35. Prior to joining Lockheed, Tom was a Naval Aviator, completing the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School in 1975. He has accumulated more than 3,000 hours in 38 different types of military aircraft. As a reservist he retired as a Navy Captain in 1994. Tom has received numerous industry awards, including the U.S. Naval Academy/Harvard Business Review Award for Ethical Leadership; the Aerospace Industry Personality of the Year; the Society of Automotive Engineers Leadership in Aerospace Award; and many others. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in the United Kingdom. He is co-author along with Betsy Clark and Adrian Pitman of the book F-35: The Inside Story of the Lightning II. Sometimes we find ourselves leading a very large team that isn’t used to working together. That happened to Tom who was the general manager of the F-35 fighter jet. In this conversation, we explore how to bring together many stakeholders in order to do something bigger than any one of them could do alone. Key Points Solicit and listen to feedback on what didn’t work in past situations. Establish behavior norms and expectations and continue coming back to them. When disagreements happen, resolve them in the context of these norms. Consider including customers in major meetings, so struggles are shared transparently with all stakeholders. Behavior norms and expectations were established globally and referenced in most formal interactions. When flare ups happened, they were often settled quickly in the spirit of the norms. A “one team” concept was used to unify people from formerly competing organizations to align them to the nobler motive. Resources Mentioned F-35: The Inside Story of the Lightning II* by Tom Burbage, Betsy Clark, and Adrian Pitman Interview Notes Download my interview notes in PDF format (free membership required). Related Episodes How to Create Team Guidelines, with Susan Gerke (episode 192) How to Build a Coaching Culture, with Andrea Wanerstrand (episode 501) How Top Leaders Influence Great Teamwork, with Scott Keller (episode 585) How to Lead Better Through Complexity, with Jennifer Garvey Berger (episode 613) Discover More Activate your free membership for full access to the entire library of interviews since 2011, searchable by topic. To accelerate your learning, uncover more inside Coaching for Leaders Plus.