Trapp planting trees at Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada to celebrate the 100 million trees transported by Slave Lake Helicopters.

Reading is Fundamental

A non-deductible, productive pastime for Trapp is reading books that give insight into business management and leadership. “One of the very few benefits of COVID is that I didn’t spend as much time traveling and got to read more. I just finished Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead by former defense secretary Jim Mattis. It’s a very good book on leadership and I really liked it. Mattis is a really impressive guy,” he says. “Another book I’m finishing is called No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention. It’s very interesting because the culture at Netflix is different from any large business culture I know of. I initially thought that their company culture can work at Netflix, but could never work at Airbus or any large corporation, but then I began to rethink my initial opinion by asking myself, ‘why could it not work?’ So, it’s a book that pushed me and expanded my preconceived ideas about management and culture.”

Another book that has become a sort of go-to bible for Trapp’s team is The Ideal Team Player: Hungry, Humble, and Smart. “I think that title sums up what I want in my team members, and that book gets circulated among my people,” says Trapp. “Hungry means people who are always working to do a better job. Humble means keeping your personal ego in check, and smart not only means being clever, but also having the emotional intelligence that allows someone to cooperate and work with others as a team to achieve great things. If you don’t have emotional intelligence and can’t cooperate with others, you are going to be a single wolf in a large company. That is not a recipe for success.”

What Trapp sees as a successful recipe is synergy. “I think the success of a company is based on how efficiently people in a company work together. Maybe everybody can do a good job on their own, individually. But it’s when we all work together that just a good job can become great,” he says. “I’m a very strong believer in empowering employees to manage themselves and coupling that empowerment with accountability. This means I am the opposite of a micromanager. When a manager starts to micromanage his team, that’s an indication that something is wrong: either the leader is not doing his job or there are issues with the team.”

Industry Challenge

Trapp is hoping this synergistic efficiency will allow Airbus to meet the greatest challenge to the rotorcraft industry he foresees: “The insurance rate for operators across the board is increasing 25% to 50%,” he says with concern. “This is forcing operators to rethink their business models and, I fear, many could go out of business. This will impact the entire rotorcraft industry. If you cannot afford insurance, you cannot fly anymore. Insurance is a necessity to stay in business.” Perhaps the greater productive efficiency Trapp seeks at Airbus will allow the OEM to realize savings it may pass to its cash-strapped customers?

One thing that is not a question is Trapp’s commitment and loyalty to his organization. “My personality is that I treat corporate business decisions as if the corporation were my own company. When you do that, you tend to take everything personally. In the past, when a decision was made above me for the good of the overall corporation that could affect my team or division in a negative way, I took it personally as some sort of slight to me and my team.”

However, Trapp has since matured. “The best piece of advice I got during one of those decisions was when someone told me, ‘Romain, it’s not always about you. Don’t take things too personally.’” In fact, Trapp says that’s the best wisdom he received in his rising career. “It’s funny, but I now pass on to other people that advice,” he says. “I still manage my responsibilities as if I were managing my own business, but I have learned to step back at times.”

Still, when Trapp strategically steps back, as when he stepped back from returning to a traditional, financially focused career path in France and stayed in North America to hone his managerial skills in relatively quiet Canada, Trapp doesn’t step back without preparing to advance. His corporate career path to president was furthered by the self-admission that he was not yet ready to take a top prestigious position, but needed to further prepare himself until he was plentifully equipped with education, resources, and experience to lead. That’s an example from which we can learn.


Nov/Dec 2020

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