Rafa Barreto

When I was training to become a captain, I faced a challenging situation that tested my skills and character. I have always been someone who loves to make people laugh and enjoys creating a fun and engaging environment. Ever since my days as a co-pilot, I maintained this positive attitude, believing that a happy team is a productive team. However, during my upgrade process to become a captain, I encountered an instructor who had a different perspective.

This instructor bluntly told me that he didn’t see a captain in me because I was too much of a clown. He said I was a great co-pilot but not fit to be a captain, and his words hit me hard. He went as far as to say that if I didn’t change my behavior overnight, he wouldn’t sign off on my continuation in the program.

I was at a crossroads. Should I become someone I’m not just to earn a title that I wasn’t even sure I wanted anymore?

One day, while the instructor went to get a sandwich for the flight, I gathered the crew and said, “Guys, I need your help.” To my surprise, they responded, “Come on, Rafa, just tell us what you need. We’ve got your back.”

That response was all I needed to realize that my leadership skills weren’t as lacking as I had been led to believe. In fact, they were quite the opposite.

Reflecting on that experience, I realized that true leadership isn’t about fitting into someone else’s mold. It’s about embracing your strengths and using them to inspire and guide others. That’s where the IMPACT model comes in. This model encapsulates the essential qualities of effective leadership, and it has guided me ever since.

How IMPACT Helped Me

Inspiration: My approach to making people laugh and feel good was my way of inspiring my team. By creating a positive atmosphere, I motivated my crew to perform their best, even under stressful conditions.

Mentorship: Although I wasn’t officially a mentor at that time, my actions and attitude served as a form of mentorship. By staying true to myself, I showed my colleagues that leadership doesn’t mean losing your unique personality.

Performance: Despite the harsh feedback, I focused on delivering my best performance. I used the criticism as fuel to prove that my way of leading was effective.

Accountability: I took responsibility for my actions and the atmosphere I created. I knew that if I wanted to succeed, I needed to find a balance between being approachable and authoritative.

Collaboration: My request for help from the crew was a testament to the power of collaboration. Their willingness to support me showed that we were a cohesive team, ready to tackle challenges together.

Transformation: This experience was transformative for me. It reinforced my belief that leadership is about authenticity and the ability to drive positive change without compromising who you are.


Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all concept. It’s about harnessing your unique qualities and using them to inspire, mentor, and lead others effectively. The IMPACT model provides a framework that can help you develop and refine these essential leadership skills. By focusing on inspiration, mentorship, performance, accountability, collaboration, and transformation, you can become a leader who not only achieves success but also creates a positive and supportive environment for others.

So, embrace your journey, stay true to yourself, and let the IMPACT model guide you towards a future of success.

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