Here’s some positivity for your week. I’ve been sharing this story a lot around the traps lately.
It’s one that reminds me that we always have a choice, we can take the road less travelled as leaders.
When times get tough, it’s easy to feel pressured down a path that seems “prudent” “sensible” or “cut and dry”. But times like these call for more from us as leaders, a duty to support those most vulnerable and a duty ultimately to longer term outcomes – and that duty will command different actions than most of what we see going on around us.
This week I’m calling on YOU, to make a difference for your tribe.
Video transcript and relevant links
Hey, so with all the turmoil that’s out there at the moment in today’s world, I wanted to take the time to actually reflect on a really positive message that can come out of all this.
I know we’re largely in lockdown at the moment trying to work out how to respond to a significant threat to our business, in many instances. But there’s also great opportunity here, and I think the real opportunity for us as leaders today is to step into being the leader we wish we’d had.
I wanted to share a really positive story that came out of a recent crisis. So in the wake of 9/11, Southwest Airlines was a bit of a beacon, in terms of the industry. As you can imagine, with a crisis like that, airplane flights halted overnight. The domestic travel industry largely collapsed in the US, immediately.
So all of a sudden you’ve got a whole industry that goes into crisis mode and starts to make those reactions like, cutting staff, cutting back on pay, working out how to handle a situation where all of a sudden the income just isn’t coming in anymore.
Southwest Airlines chose to take a different pat. In the wake of those horrendous events, what happened was that at Southwest they got together as a company and had a conversation about what they were going to do and what that looked like.
As a result, they chose not to lay off staff. Instead, they started talking about, what does a response look like, if we’re not going to do that. Does it look like four day work weeks, does it look like reduced hours, how do we come together around this problem and solve it to the best of our ability?
They did some amazing things around offering refunds to customers straight up. It’s a gutsy, gutsy move, paid off big time. And I’m not necessarily saying that we need to go down all of these paths. The real takeaway here is that this company came together and chose to reposition their response to the problem in a way that other companies didn’t.
As a result, Southwest actually made money in the fourth quarter of 2001, and they have continued to make a profit each year.
So, in the light of what’s going on today and what may seem like some pretty dark times – for a lot of us – that are ahead, don’t forget that you have a choice in the way that you react. You can choose to be the leader that you wish you had. And you can choose to make a really humanistic decision that’s based on what’s best for everybody, not simply an immediate individualistic response to what’s going on. You can choose to make a difference every move we make.
So I hope you’re out there and having a great week and pushing through where you can and taking the time to rest and recover where you need to. We have got a pretty rough path ahead, so hold on, it’s going to be a bit of a roller coaster ride.
But, you have a huge opportunity here and I would really really encourage you to all think about how we can make those decisions that are going to be best not only for the ongoing sustainability of our organisation, but for the people who live and breathe life into that organisation as well.
It doesn’t take much to do a quick google on the Southwest story – here’s a starter for you: https://buffalonews.com/2014/05/19/ex-southwest-airlines-ceo-offers-lessons-in-leadership-from-post-911-crisis