Matt Lindley is an airline and ex RAF Royal Squadron Pilot. He shares his story of being one of the first openly gay pilots in the armed forces, a story of self-motivation, determination and drive which led to his dream of joining the RAF fulfilled.
Matt graduated with a degree in commerce from the University of Birmingham. He joined the Ford Motor Company and was selected from the graduate intake for his specialist knowledge on implementing Japanese Management techniques in the car industry.
In 1995 he was selected to be a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Matt was one of the first openly gay pilots in the RAF, with his childhood dream of joining almost being crushed by the ban on gay personnel joining the forces. He describes how the RAF adapted its culture from one of hostility towards gay personnel to acceptance and support, using his experience to highlight the benefits of transformational leadership and positive cultural change to the well-being of employees and the productivity of an organisation.
During his military career, he flew many aircraft including the Hawk fighter jet. In 2000 he was selected to fly Her Majesty The Queen, members of the Royal Family and Government worldwide, serving on The Royal Squadron. Whilst serving, he became a qualified flying instructor and VIP qualified Captain. He flew missions in the Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Matt left the Service and became a long-haul commercial airline pilot, flying the Boeing 747 worldwide.
Matt has also specialised in non-technical training within aviation and medicine. Human Factors is a science which analyses why we all make mistakes in the workplace and suggests ways to improve teamwork leadership and team corporation to mitigate this risk. Matt has developed life-saving courses to help healthcare professionals minimise mistakes, understanding their own vulnerabilities and thus reducing error rates in hospitals. Recently he has diversified into other risk-based sectors, using the aviation model and lessons learnt through fatal crashes to explain why employees make mistakes/human error in the workplace. This covers a huge variety of topics including human cognition (why the brain is designed to trip us up), inclusive leadership, just culture versus blame culture, stress in the workplace, fatigue, empowering employees to speak up, assertiveness skills plus many more.
Over the last 20 years, the way we fly and manage a modern airliner has changed beyond recognition, Matt has used this model in teaching doctors and nurses life-saving techniques to reduce patient harm in hospitals. He has been extensively interviewed as an expert on this subject on a recent BBC Radio 4/World Service Programme ‘from the cockpit to the operating theatre’. His presentation mixes psychology, case studies, interactive exercises and real-life practical tips on how to change the way we work.
Click here to hear Matt’s From the Cockpit to the Operating Theatre on BBC Radio 4