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7 Questions on Leadership with Selahattin Kotay

Name: Selahattin Kotay

Title: Head Of Maintenance Control Center

Organisation: UAB Klasjet Airlines

I obtained my degree in Aerospace Engineering from Coventry University, marking the inception of my journey in the realm of civil aviation. Post-graduation, I delved into the field as an Aircraft Systems Engineer, contributing my skills to various airlines in diverse roles, including Systems and Base Maintenance Engineer over the years around 16 years.

The trajectory of my career took an upward turn when I seized the opportunity to transition into leadership roles, initially as an Engineering Manager and later as a Maintenance Manager in Part-145 company. Throughout this progression, I took on the responsibility of overseeing aircraft deliveries and re-deliveries independently, further honing my expertise.

Currently, I am passionately steering the Maintenance Control Center department in my present company, aiming to fulfill the role of Head. This journey has not only been a professional evolution but a testament to my commitment to excellence in the dynamic and challenging field of aerospace

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Selahattin's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

One of the most challenging aspects of leadership is navigating and managing interpersonal dynamics within a team. Balancing individual personalities, addressing conflicts, and fostering a positive team culture can be demanding. Effective communication becomes crucial, especially when conveying expectations, providing feedback, and aligning the team with organizational goals.

Another challenge is decision-making, particularly when faced with complex and ambiguous situations. Leaders often need to make tough choices under pressure, and the ability to weigh multiple factors, anticipate consequences, and make informed decisions is crucial.

Adapting to change is also a common challenge for leaders. In today's fast-paced business environment, being flexible and leading through change requires a strategic mindset and the ability to guide a team through uncertainty.

Furthermore, maintaining motivation and engagement among team members is an ongoing challenge. Leaders must understand and cater to the diverse needs and aspirations of their team while fostering an environment that encourages productivity and innovation.

Lastly, the ability to learn and grow as a leader is essential. Embracing continuous self-improvement, staying informed about industry trends, and seeking feedback are vital components of effective leadership.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

My journey to leadership unfolded organically as I navigated the aerospace industry. Beginning with a degree in Aerospace Engineering from Coventry University, I immersed myself in the field as an Aircraft Systems Engineer. Over the years, I diversified my experience by taking on roles such as Systems and Base Maintenance Engineer in various airlines.

The pivotal point in my career arose when I embraced opportunities for advancement. I transitioned into managerial positions, initially as an Engineering Manager and later as a Maintenance Manager. This shift marked a turning point, allowing me to not only contribute technically but also lead and guide teams.

Taking on the responsibility of overseeing independent aircraft deliveries and re-deliveries further enriched my skill set. This hands-on experience solidified my leadership capabilities as I learned to navigate complex situations, make strategic decisions, and ensure the seamless execution of critical processes.

Currently, I am steering the Maintenance Control Center department in my present role, aspiring to reach the position of Head. Each step in my career has been a learning experience, shaping me into a leader who values continuous growth, effective communication, and the ability to adapt to the dynamic landscape of the aerospace industry.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

6:00 AM - Wake Up and Morning Routine:

Start my day by waking up early to ensure a productive start.

Engage in a morning routine that suits my preferences, such as exercise and a nutritious breakfast

8:00 AM : I take some time to review my schedule and prioritize tasks for the day.

Respond to any urgent emails or messages that may have come in overnight.

9:00 AM: Starting my work day usually.

12:00 PM: Take a break for lunch to recharge both physically and mentally.

Stepping away from my workspace to relax and clear my mind.

1:00 PM- Tackle tasks that require less intense focus in the afternoon.

Schedule meetings and collaborative work during this time, as energy levels typically remain stable.

6:00 PM - End of working hours. I leave all problems work-related in the office and head to Family or activities.

I believe after 6:00 PM everyone should get everything behind and focus on their personal life so that can get motivated until tomorrow`s new challenges.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Individuals often learn or are reminded of is the importance of effective communication. Transparent and open communication fosters trust among team members, ensures everyone is on the same page, and helps to navigate challenges more smoothly. It's crucial for leaders to actively listen, provide clear guidance, and create an environment where team members feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

One such book is "Leaders Eat Last" by Simon Sinek. This book explores the concept of leadership through the lens of putting the well-being of others first. Sinek argues that great leaders prioritize the needs of their team members, fostering a sense of trust and collaboration that can lead to long-term success.

Leadership is not merely about authority but about creating a supportive environment where individuals feel valued and motivated. "Leaders Eat Last" emphasizes the significance of empathy, selflessness, and a strong sense of purpose in effective leadership.

While I can't share a personal story, many leaders have found inspiration and practical insights from this book, leading them to reevaluate their leadership style and approach to building and leading teams. If you're interested in leadership literature, "Leaders Eat Last" might be a valuable addition to your reading list.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

It would be to prioritize continuous learning and adaptability. The landscape of leadership is dynamic, and successful leaders embrace a mindset of constant growth.

Here's the advice broken down:

Continuous Learning:

Never stop seeking knowledge and expanding your skill set. Whether it's staying informed about industry trends, acquiring new leadership techniques, or developing a deeper understanding of your field, a commitment to learning positions you to make informed decisions and navigate evolving challenges.


The ability to adapt is a cornerstone of effective leadership. Embrace change, be open to new ideas, and remain flexible in your approach. The business environment is constantly evolving, and leaders who can adapt to shifting circumstances are better equipped to lead their teams through uncertainty and drive positive outcomes.

By prioritizing continuous learning and adaptability, a young leader can cultivate a foundation for long-term success and contribute to the resilience and innovation of their team and organization.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

In one of my workplaces not so different from others, I found myself facing a team that seemed disheartened and unmotivated. Instead of diving into tasks immediately, I took a step back and listened to the concerns and challenges team members were facing.

Recognizing the need for empathy, I worked to understand the individual strengths and aspirations of each team member. By acknowledging their personal and professional goals, I tailored tasks and responsibilities to align with each person's passions and skills.

Through this approach, the team began to transform. Morale improved, collaboration soared, and the workplace became a hub of creativity and productivity. My demonstration of empathy and commitment to understanding the unique qualities of each team member created a culture of trust, unity, and shared purpose.

The moral of the story is that true leadership goes beyond directing tasks; it involves understanding and empowering individuals. When leaders connect with their team on a personal level, they foster an environment where everyone can thrive, leading to collective success.

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