I was just on a flight from Toronto to LaGuardia airport in New York City. Severe thunderstorms caused us to be diverted to nearby Newark, New Jersey. The captain kept us updated along the way. Once we’d landed in Newark he came into the cabin and asked who would like to get off here and travel into New York City (it was only a few minutes longer for most of going to Manhattan). Almost everyone raised their hands.
Ah, but it was not that simple. U.S. customs and immigration does not allow a flight that’s been cleared for one U.S. city to enter the country and land at another city. We might be able to move to another terminal to go back through customs/immigration or we’d have to wait for the weather to clear up at LaGuardia and fly there. For nearly three hours discussions and negotiations continued as our fate was being decided. During this whole time the captain kept us updated with good-natured and humorous progress reports.
We finally flew to LaGuardia and landed just before midnight – nearly four hours behind schedule. There was no grumbling or complaining among the passengers. Our captain treated us like valued customers — like people — and not “the cattle in the back” as with too many airline crews. His leadership model set the tone for the rest of the flight attendants and lightened the mood throughout the plane.
Having flown with this airline for decades, this pilot’s very positive handling of a tough situation was pure chance. We won the leadership lottery on that trip. I’ve also been at the “cattle in the back” end of the customer-cattle continuum many times with this company.
Tomorrow’s issue of The Leader Letter compiles last month’s blogs into one publication. A series of them deal with customer service. Consistent and reliably good customer service doesn’t happen by chance. It’s a direct result of strong leadership and a positive culture.
A blog that was the most re-tweeted and generated more feedback than any other last month was reducing the generational nonsense and increasing leadership. Let’s stop the intergenerational psycho babble and look at what the research actually tells us on what all generations want from their leaders and organizations.
The issue also looks at lessons learned from, and a follow up to, my May 23 webcast on leadership and culture development for higher safety. Courageous conversations and effective team leadership are critical. And when it comes to vision, values, and mission — well lived trumps well written every time.