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Trust: Missing in action where it counts

Whom do you trust? That's a big, loaded question. And at least one organisation has been putting out a Trust Barometer for 14 years now...

Monday, July 31, 2006

Make work a fun place & you'll profit from it!

Kevin Freiberg, the acclaimed author of Nuts and Guts has been giving us some breathtaking insights into contemporary management practices and in the last part of the series, he speaks about how a leader can inspire those who follow him, to be better than him.

He says it is important to get to the heart of what motivates people and he believes this is across cultures and not specific to the US, Europe Japan or South East Asia. He explains how Southwest Airlines is empowering its employees to be more than just drones working for an airline company. They take it as a personal cause to make sure their flights are on time and tickets are reasonably priced, so that grandparents can travel to meet family or just for fun, without it becoming to expensive for them.

Peter Drucker did say that the "leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell and the leader of the future will be the person who knows how to ask." Freiberg believes this is true. He told CNBC-TV18, "It maybe hidden in some and I think the way we awaken that in people, is to give them a voice. So, you got to give the people freedom, to think and act like owners of the business and secondly, you have got to equip them to think and act like owners of the business."

"Now when I talk about ownership, I am not talking about the stock options and profit sharing, I think those things are critical but I am talking about the mentality which says if I see a problem I will own it. And really, when you think about ownership, ownership is about finding the gaps in any business and stepping into the breach to fill in those gaps, whether it's with a customer or whether it's with a co-worker."

The quiet heroism of 9/11
"Mid morning, on 9/11, the air traffic control system in the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, had shut the air traffic control system down. Southwest Airlines had accounted for all of its 350 plus aircraft except for one. It's mid morning on 9/11, you cannot find a plane, so what do you think? It may have been hijacked. But fortunately, the plane had diverted to Grand Rapids, Michigan where Southwest Airlines doesn't have a presence. They got down on the ground, the ground staff plugged into the airplane and said we are so thankful you are down, you are one of the last aircraft and the system is down.

"On the parking lot, they had 40 aircraft waiting and they were told, it's going to be five hours before we can take your passengers off the plane and the pilot looked out the cockpit window and said there is an empty belt loader over there, that's isn't being used. So he asked the airport's staff to get it to the plane's front door. They brought the belt loader to the front door, the pilots and the flight attendants gingerly escorted all 137 passengers down the belt ladder."

"Then the pilot called the rental car agency and said can we use your shuttles to get out passengers to Amtrak (which is America's train system). The flight attendants and pilots swiped their own credit card to buy tickets for the passengers, who couldn't afford it and within 48 hours of that incident, everyone of those passengers were in their homes with their loved ones."

This is one committed team that made that scary day, a little more comfortable for the people who flew their airline. People who loved doing their jobs so much ,that they found a way for their customers to be satisfied.

Leadership counts
He believes that if people are failing to find joy in their jobs, then it has to do with "one of two reasons, either you are not a good coach or they are in the wrong job - they are not in the sweet spot, where there is a fit. Where is the responsibility? On you - the leader. Who assumes ownership? You, the leader, because when you really think about it, leadership is about serving."

"I mean the only reason to be in leadership is because you think you have the capability to serve other people and the great leader is always the one who looks in the mirror first and says what about me needs to change. So if you have somebody who is not creating, I think you've got to look in the mirror and say what are we doing to create an environment that drives the best out of this individual."

At the end of the day, it's always a people business. And, people are the most complex thing you lead and you manage. At the end of day, the great leaders are the people who understand that if you can get people caught up in a cause, that's worthy of everything that they have got, that makes some feel heroic about what they do. At the end of the day, people want to come and be a part of something special."

Written for www.moneycontrol.com

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