FIT@50 / Week 82: Custom(er) Service

FIT@50 / Week 82
Custom(er) Service

While this week’s FIT@50 arrived a day late, it was also the article’s motivation. Max and I flew back home to Dallas late last night, and after a few days away from everyone, I decided the welcome backs were more important than the writing.

I make no secret that I believe in old-school American values. That particularly applies to the way you treat people. That of course, transcends to the way you conduct your business—both personal and professional.

Liliana Hart and I have chronicled our trials with the despicably unethical home builder, and both look forward to writing very candidly about who he is and the facts of his less-than-legal accounting and accountability. Our hope would be that our house would be the last house he’d be contracted to build.

But, we were blessed to recently sell that home and are grateful that it will bless another family. This of course brings me back on track about placing value in the values we hold dear.

People seem to always find a way to interact with Max. His friendly, whole-face smile disarms most, and his energetic enthusiasm for everything from muddling through the TSA screening process to ordering a NOLA Lucky Dog attracts positive attention from others.

We like Southwest Airlines for our every week and a half flights back and forth between Dallas and Louisiana. It’s a casual flight, and although I’m not a big fan of competitive cattle-call seating, the one hour and fifteen minute flights whiz by.

What also makes them our favorite carrier is the way their employees seem to enjoy being there. Southwest Airlines has a storied past about the way they bucked the traditionally rigid airline business model to become the only major carrier to have not filed bankruptcy, merged and consistently posted profits for the last 43 years.

They empower people—their employees.

This was evident Friday as Max and I boarded and the pilot immediately greeted us. Max’s usual smile was on display as he returned the hello. The pilot invited Max into the cockpit. Max hesitated. The pilot asked again with an even warmer welcome.

Max was invited to sit in the giant captain’s seat while the instrument panel popped alive with brilliant lights and buttons. His face brightened even more as he repeatedly mouthed, “WOW.”

After a fun, casual chat and a few pictures, we headed back to our seats. Immediately, I tweeted the picture of Max with his new friend and tagged @SouthwestAir. Their top-notch public relations team quickly responded and sent a direct message to my account thanking me and asked for a flight confirmation to thank the pilot and crew.

By the time we deplaned, the pilot told Max good-bye. He shook my hand and said, “Thanks Brother. I appreciate the good word over Twitter.”

Talk about custom, customer service!

While it may seem to be a promo for Southwest Airlines (it is a little) it’s more about an appreciation for a company that started and still values their core values.

Their company values include:
Live the Southwest Way
– Warrior Spirit
– Servant’s Heart
– Fun-LUVing Attitude

They came through last night and made a sweet boy who already flies often, an even bigger fan of the friendly skies. They did good.

Do Good,
Scott

Different Ideas for Developing Future Leaders

Even though the recent recession postponed retirement for many Baby Boomers, it didn’t eliminate it; and now many of them are exiting the workforce stage left.

Because of this reality, many innovative organizations in both the private and public sectors are developing creative ways to develop effective leaders. Here’s a quick look at three unique approaches that could help prepare your team for the future:

  1. Leader-Lend
    Toyota has modeled this with great success. They created a diverse team of young (and I mean young!) leaders and provided some advanced leadership training. However, they also reached out to other organizations in their community and “loaned” this team of leaders to these organizations, many of which were non-profit groups. The purpose was to have the emerging leaders help these organizations solve problems they were facing. It was a win-win in more than one way. The organizations benefitted from receiving input from a different set of eyes. Toyota not only had a public relations win, but their leaders received some hands-on experience. It provided both learning and evaluation opportunities. This is something that many local governments could explore.
  1. Cross-Departmental Training
    In The Southwest Airlines Way, author Jody Gittell describes the practices of Southwest Airlines in developing employees. Due in part to their aggressive cross-departmental training programs, employees are likely to know how their work relates to the work of the entire organization. They know how their work impacts other departments. Gittell argues that this is not typically true for other airlines. This may not seem like a quick fix for developing future leaders, and it’s not, but it may be an important foundational issue. John Kotter, distinguished business professor at Harvard, suggests that creating ways for employees to reach outside the boundaries of their own silos will facilitate innovation because it spreads operational knowledge and builds relationships. No leader is prepared for the future without those two things, no matter how many classes he/she has attended.
  1. Executive Assistants
    This idea, sometimes used in the military, involves taking a young leader and re-assigning him/her for a period as an executive assistant to a department head. The key word is to have them serve as an “executive” assistant not an “administrative” assistant. This is not the next step to being the “assistant department head.” It is one step in the process of developing a future leader who will be much better equipped because of the opportunity to see things from a higher level for a period of time. It may seem like a luxury that you can’t afford to have, but if you are serious about developing leaders, it may be a necessity that you can’t afford to be without.

Mike Mowery


Written by:
Mike Mowery
Director of Leadership Development, Strategic Government Resources
governmentresource.com