Episode 9: What are the Leadership Lessons from Being a Navy Fighter Pilot?

Episode 9: What are the Leadership Lessons from Being a Navy Fighter Pilot?

What does a Navy fighter pilot have in common with leading during the pandemic? A lot, at least according to our guest today.  Communicating wel, reinforcing core values, remembering to listen- these are all things that leaders in the navy are trained to do, and they are things that can serve leaders well as they navigate un-chartered territory now.  Join us as Jeff McLean, former fighter pilot turned consultant at ghSMART talks about why the lessons from his first career are serving him well in his second and why your organization can learn from them as well.


Jeff McLean is a Principal at ghSMART. He advises public and private company boards, CEOs, and investors on their most crucial leadership challenges including executive team selection and development, CEO succession, M&A diligence, and organizational change initiatives. Drawing on his combined experiences as a leader and advisor to national leaders, Jeff brings thoughtful and pragmatic insight to drive business performance.

Prior to joining ghSMART, Jeff was Director of Strategic Initiatives and Asset Management for a large privately-held family office with operating businesses in multiple industries. Previously, he served as a Senior Policy Advisor and White House Fellow in the White House Office of American Innovation, where he helped lead nationally impactful initiatives including government technology modernization, prison reform, and future workforce development.

Earlier in his career, Jeff served as a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Navy, where he completed three deployments aboard aircraft carriers, including 51 combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. As a test pilot, he served as Project Officer of the revolutionary “X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System,” an unmanned jet aircraft that pioneered autonomous aircraft capabilities including successful landings on an aircraft carrier and autonomous aerial refueling.

As a Fulbright Scholar and Truman Scholar, Jeff earned a degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University. He also earned an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy. He lives near Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his wife and two children.


Here is the article that Jeff wrote on leadership for Wharton


Here is the link to Jeff’s website



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