On Sundays, The New York Times runs a business-section column called "Corner Office," which features well-written and well-edited interviews with executives. This past Sunday, Adam Bryant interviewed former Continental Airlines CEO Gordon Bethune. The piece, entitled "Remember to Share the Stage," featured several real-life examples of the kind of management that Gruntled Employees seeks to cultivate. I don't know anything about Bethune beyond what appeared in this piece, and I can't say that I've ever thought of Continental Airlines as a model company, but the advice is solid.
When asked about his most important leadership lessons, Bethune gave a response that is straight out of our philosophy here:
I was a mechanic in the Navy. And mechanics in the Navy are like mechanics in airlines. You may have more stripes than I do, but you don’t know how to fix the airplane. You want me to fix it? You know how much faster I could fix the airplane when I wanted to, than when I didn’t want to? So I’ve always felt that if you treat me with respect, I’ll do more for you.
Seems simple, doesn't it? And yet, many managers and executives and HR pros have difficulty remembering this.
Bethune explained the value of trusting his employees:
The really good people want autonomy — you let me do it, and I’ll do it. So I told the people I recruited: “You come in here and you’ve got to keep me informed, but you’re the guy, and you’ll make these decisions. It won’t be me second-guessing you. But everybody’s going to win together. We’re part of a team, but you’re going to run your part.” That’s all they want. They want a chance to do it.
And he recognized the value of open and truthful communications with his people:
And we never lied. You don’t lie to your own doctor. You don’t lie to your own attorney, and you don’t lie to your employees.
Respecting your employees, giving them autonomy and accountability, and being open and honest with them. A manager can learn a lot by flipping through the Sunday paper.
Read the entire piece here.
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Speaking of open and honest communication: I've been away from Gruntled Employees for a little while, but now I'm back. I appreciate your patience and your continued support.
What do you think of Gordon Bethune's management lessons? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.