Tags: Howard Putnam, Leadership, leadership, Mentor, Mentoring, management, howard putnam, southwest airlines, mentor, mentoring, strategy, strategic discipline
"Nobody sings solo," was our CEO Eddie Carlson’s favorite line when he was our leader at United Airlines and I was the group vice president of marketing.
On my office "wall of fame" are names of leaders and mentors with whom I’ve worked over the years. They taught me the importance of being disciplined and thinking strategically.
Some of those mentors include: Virgil and Mary Putnam, my parents on the Iowa farm; Jim Taylor, my high school principal and journalism instructor; Eddie Carlson, Chairman & CEO of United Airlines; Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, the first and last men on the moon; General Paul Tibbets, Commander of the B-29 Enola Gay that dropped the bomb ending WWII; Zig Ziglar, the great motivational speaker and author; Phil Guthrie, CFO at Southwest Airlines and Braniff and my teammate in other ventures; Herb Kelleher, co-founder and Chairman of Southwest Airlines who hired me as CEO; and Krista, Mike and Sue Putnam, my wife, son and daughter who always seem to know when my GPS needs a course correction.
There is a common thread with all of them. They think strategically, speak candidly and I have counted on their support in both good and turbulent times.
In 1981 when I left my position as CEO of Southwest Airlines and became CEO of the financially challenged Braniff International, we flew a 747 with 300 passengers from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport down to Harlingen, Texas for the Commerative Air Force annual air show and fly-bys. They maintain a fleet of WWII aircraft, including "FiFi," which is the only remaining B-29 from the 3,000 that flew in WWII.
My reward was to fly on the mock bombing run in the nose position with General Tibbets as the pilot and commander of the flight. He was quiet, humble and a patriotic American. He shook my hand and said, "Thanks for trying to save Braniff." I thanked him for what he did. He simply smiled and said, "I just did my job."
General Tibbets is a great example of strategic discipline in turbulent times. Jim Collins and Morten Hansen in Great By Choice, HarperCollins, 2011, devoted a chapter of their best seller to Southwest Airlines for its ability to withstand the winds of turbulence for over thirty years. Their research concluded that Southwest still adheres to 80 percent of the vision we wrote in 1979. They call it SMaC for Specific, Methodical and Consistent.
We had a disciplined NO list: No more than one kind of airplane, No first class, No meals, No seat assignments, No interlining of tickets or luggage, No high fares. And we just stuck to the things we were doing well. We were not a traditional airline. We were in the business of mass transportation and we kept the focus on people and nurtured a feeling of family amongst the entire Southwest team.
We hired people based on their positive attitudes and then often developed their skills. Keeping it simple was the key to our success, and we vowed to be disciplined and stick to the vision and the flight plan we wrote that was just 52 words long.
Southwest has gone from 3 airplanes and 80 employees in 1971 to over 600 airplanes, 50,000 employees and 40 consecutive years of profitability. Strategic discipline works in good times and in turbulence. Do what you do best and stick to it.
Howard Putnam speaks on leadership, change, transformation, customer service, teams and ethics. He is the former CEO of Southwest Airlines and the first CEO to take a major airline, Braniff International, into, through and out of Chapter 11, getting it flying again in less than two years.
Tags: Tony Alessandra, leadership, Leaders, Mentor, Mentoring, genius, mentor, mentoring, be a mentor, role models, inspiration
There’s one thing that all geniuses have in common, and it’s something critically important too.
Despite the myth of the isolated loner writing a great novel in his log cabin, geniuses are almost never solitary individuals. On the contrary, they’re usually deeply involved with their families, their colleagues, and quite often with their enemies and rivals. Geniuses are usually surrounded by other people. Not just by yes men, either. Indeed, a quality of genius I want to mention — and it’s far from the least important — is the power to bring out the genius in others.
How can you accomplish this? Well, many personal development programs stress the importance of finding role models or mentors. That is very important — but for bringing out genius in the people around you, the perspective needs to be reversed. You should be a mentor. You should be a role model, not just find one for yourself.
Geniuses in every field have certain characteristics in common. They’re inspired, they’re resilient, they’re focused –and most of them read a lot! Think back over the people we’ve discussed in this program. What characteristics do you share with Einstein, Edison, Churchill, and Lincoln? It would hardly come as a surprise if you were to choose one of those geniuses as a role model. But here’s a more pertinent question: when it comes to role models, would people choose you?
These common characteristics do not occur by chance, they are an integral part of goal attainment. It is worth your time to analyze the constructive characteristics of people who are now where you would like to be– role models. These are people to admire and emulate. Your choices can include people who are dead or living as long as you are familiar with their personalities and accomplishments.
Harry Truman knew the value of role models. When he was in the White House, he often went into the Lincoln bedroom, looked at the late president’s picture and asked, "What would Lincoln have done now?" The answers gave Truman the insight and direction he was seeking. It worked because Truman felt Lincoln was a man worth emulating. Do people feel that way about you?
In becoming a role model that can inspire genius in others, the following guidelines can really help:
First, keep off the pedestal. People will admire and emulate you because of what you’ve accomplished. That’s good. What’s not good is putting you above them, and trying to appear larger than life. We are all human. We all have strengths and weaknesses. You must not lose this perspective on yourself, or others will turn away from you. And remember: isolation is contradictory to genius.
Second, focus on people’s strong points. To ignite and inspire genius, you need to see what an individual might need to emulate, and make a conscious effort to model those qualities. It’s a responsibility — not unlike being a parent — but it’s one that so many geniuses have willingly taken on. Edison had a whole army of assistants and colleagues, as did Walt Disney. Many of them went on to do great things in their own right.
Above all remain yourself — and give others freedom to do the same. Often the tendency when admiring someone is to try to become his or her clone. A genius doesn’t encourage that. A genius wants to be around other geniuses, not wannabes. That’s why the ability to bring out the genius in others is so rewarding.
So — go for it! Put this and everything else we’ve talked about genius into action and let it take you where you’re destined to go. Make the journey your intention, not the outcome. As the great Irish writer James Joyce put it, "Persons of genius make no mistakes. Their errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery."
Dr. Tony Alessandra is a behavioral and communication expert, and author of 17 books including The Platinum Rule, Collaborative Selling and The Art of Managing People. Today he is a leading business motivational speaker on communication, customer loyalty and sales.
This article originally appeared on Dr. Tony Alessandra's blog. Check it out for more on the topic of genius.
It's probably true that most people who work with us will never care as deeply as we do about building our business and serving our clients. If they did, they'd probably be working for themselves.
Yet there's a great deal we can do to raise the level of their commitment and inspire them to peak performance. The operative word in the preceding sentence is inspire. You can demand that people who work for you be punctual, or that they perform at a certain level of output, or even that they do things reasonably well. Yet real commitment can only be inspired. And, inspiring people is what great leaders like John F. Kennedy and Lee Iaccoca did best.
How do great leaders such as these inspire others to commit themselves to their goals? It's not just that they have charismatic personalities, or that they give a lot of high-powered motivational talks. What they do is communicate their vision so forcefully that other people adopt it as their own vision.
For example, in the early sixties, President Kennedy set his sights on putting a man on the moon, and told the American people "We can do it!" He said it with such conviction that masses of people believed it, and committed themselves to making it happen. And, sure enough, in less than a decade, the first human being had walked on the moon.
Lee Iaccoca stepped into the ailing Chrysler Corporation and said "We're going to turn this company around!" With clear goals, a solid plan of action, and a strong conviction, he was able to inspire enough commitment from the U.S. Congress that he secured the largest loan ever made to a private company. Then he inspired enough commitment in thousands of Chrysler workers to enable the company to pay back the loan ahead of schedule.
That's the formula for any leader to inspire commitment -- clear goals, a solid plan of action, and a strong conviction. If you can communicate that to the people who work with you, you will have the kind of loyalty that makes them go the second mile. And the third and fourth miles if that's what it takes to get the job done.
Of course, it takes more than inspiration to run a successful organization. The people who work with you have to consistently perform at very high levels. And, to get that kind of performance, you have to gain their trust. They have to believe that you will always be fair in your dealings with them, and that you are concerned about their best interests.
One of the most helpful insights I ever learned about leading others is that people do things for their reasons, not for your reasons or for mine. So the goals, the plan of action, and the strong conviction have to be communicated in a way that directly answers the question: "What's in it for me?"
When people honestly believe they will benefit directly from their efforts, and that the more they give the more they will benefit, they will perform at peak levels. So it's crucial that you show people how they will grow as they work individually and together to make the company grow, and then back up all your promises with solid actions.
People don't back good causes. They respond to clear opportunities for personal and professional growth. If I may paraphrase the Hallmark slogan, when people care enough, they'll give their very best!
But how can you move past the empty rhetoric and translate your vision into concrete actions your people can identify with and get excited about? Let me suggest ten proven techniques for building a solid team:
(1) Tie compensation, in every conceivable way, to the income people create. Profit sharing is one way you can do it, but that tends to reward everybody equally, regardless of how much effort they put into making the company profitable. A better way is to structure all or a part of everyone's pay, from the janitor to the president, around a mutually beneficial incentive plan. That way, the better job they do, the more money they'll make.
(2) Give constant public recognition for outstanding performance. The fact is that we all like to look good in the presence of our peers.
So, if you can document that someone has done a job very well, give him or her a public pat on the back. If it's really good, throw in a tangible benefit. It will make everybody feel like giving more of themselves to the team effort.
(3) Constantly ask for input and ideas. People are usually much more enthusiastic about supporting decisions and plans they help to make. So it helps a great deal to get ideas and input from any staff person whose job will be affected by any up-coming decision. When your staff members quit talking about the company, and start talking about our company, you know you've got a team.
(4) Promote people on the basis of abilities, not just because they've performed well or have been around a long time. Make sure that anyone you promote has the skills and knowledge they need to do well in the new position.
(5) Assume that everyone needs to be trained for every new assignment. If you're lucky, you'll have one or two people who can plow into almost anything and do well at it. But most people need initial and ongoing training.
(6) Constantly play the role of coach and mentor. Encourage people to keep growing and taking on new challenges. Guide their growth in ways that benefit your organization. Deal with mistakes and problems quickly, tactfully and forthrightly.
(7) Practice good human relations. Make people feel valued and important by treating them with dignity and respect.
(8) Provide plenty of opportunities for people to grow, both personally and professionally.
(9) Keep your personnel policies simple, clear and fair -- then firmly enforce them. It doesn't help to have policies that no one understands, and it's even worse to let people constantly get away with violating them.
(10) Weed out the prima donnas and poor performers before they spoil the whole team.
It takes a lot of patience and effort to build a solid team of people who will share and help you fulfill your vision, but the results will be well worth all you put into it.
Nido Qubein is an international speaker and accomplished author on sales, communication, and leadership. He is president of High Point University which has an enrollment of 4,000 students. He is also chairman of Great Harvest Bread Company with 220 stores in 43 states.
Every business person who aspires to excellence wants a mentor… an expert superstar who has done exactly what you are trying to do AND is willing to show you, step by step, exactly what you need to believe, understand, know and do to get the results you want in a very short period of time…preferably with as little work and pain as possible.
I have had several mentors in my career and they have catapulted me to the top of more than one industry. Their wisdom and experience has saved me tens of thousands of dollars in mistakes, made me millions in fees, made my books best sellers and saved me literally decades of time over my career.
Mentors, however, require the utmost in care and attention. They are skittish animals that must be carefully fed and nurtured. These relationships are literally worth their weight in gold. Yet, I find most business people who seek out a mentor understand little about how to create or nurture these critical career and life-changing relationships.
NEVER expect a mentor to help you just because they are already successful and don't need the money, because they like you, because they are your boss, because you are "in their network", because they really enjoy helping others, or whatever other crazy justification you might want to believe.
Think about this. Why would a mentor help you, when they could easily (because of their extraordinary success and large networks) invest their time and efforts with other equally or more successful people and reap far greater rewards?
Why would they mentor you when they could be spending time with their friends or family? At a minimum, the time they invest in you will always be competing for their free time. What can you offer that will make them WANT to give those things up for you? Even the most altruistic of mentors has limited time and you want to be one of their TOP priorities.
Mentors will help you most when they are in your life over the long term (years or decades) and they will not continue to put energy into your relationship unless there is SOMETHING in it for them. This is just simple human nature. You already know it is true. I am reminding you of this universal truth because I see it so often completely ignored.
So what can you do to take make yourself invaluable to your mentor?
Review the following strategies and have a conversation with your mentor or potential mentor to determine which of these would be most valuable to them:
1. Pay them! Somehow this obvious solution is the least discussed and seldom used. You can pay cash up front. You can give them a percentage of your increased earnings for a period of time. You can give them stock or a percentage of your company. You can give them a percentage of everything you earn over some threshold. Be creative. What would make financial sense for you if they were to really jump in and catapult your career?
2. Trade for products or services. What do you have that they want or could want? In what area are YOU a deep subject matter expert that you could exchange for mentoring? Many very talented people are crippled by paperwork or are technology challenged. How could you "reverse mentor" them?
3. Find a task or set of chores that they HATE to do and take them on. You will become indispensible to them and you will free up valuable time for them to help you get what you want.
4. Go to work for them. Can you imagine what you would learn going to work for Warren Buffet or Steve Jobs? Your nominal pay is completely irrelevant to what you could learn by going to work directly for a mentor who is currently doing exactly what you want to learn.
5. Use your network. How could your network be valuable to them? How could you help your mentor by making the right kinds of introductions to the right people for the right purpose? Just be sure that the introductions are mutually beneficial to your network or your network will quickly disappear.
6. Triangle trade. Sometimes you can help someone else who can help your mentor. This requires more work and commitment but can be very powerful as you build a coalition that is unstoppable. Harry Potter would never have defeated Voldemort without Ron and Hermione.
7. Pay it forward to someone they care about. This is one of the most powerful strategies on the list. Becoming a mentor or resource to a loved one or colleague who really matters to your mentor will win HUGE mentoring points. Find someone in their life with an issue you can resolve and you are set.
8. Commit to paying it forward. Suppose none of the previous strategies are viable. Consider tracking their contribution to you with a metric that makes sense to your mentor and then commit to paying it forward until you have delivered the same or greater outcome for others. Part of the agreement may be that those you mentor agree to pay if forward also creating a real multiplier effect for your mentor.
9. Pay it forward to the charity of their choice. Perhaps you can work at their favorite homeless shelter or be a fund raiser for their favorite local charity.
10. Create joint ventures in which they are the majority partner. It is possible that you don’t have a lot of excess cash but, instead, have some investment or retirement money that you could access to co-venture with them. This option could be combined with trading for services or sweat equity or a triangle trade to make it work. How creative can you be to get the mentor of your choice? Remember that smart, successful people usually have a knack for making money and being a minority partner would give you a bird’s eye view of their thinking and decision making patterns.
11. Become their slave. You will notice that this one is last on the list. That is because it is perhaps the least desirable, but it can also be the most powerful because it is often the easiest to get a mentor to agree to. It is also the most humbling because you will agree to do whatever they ask (that is moral and legal) for a period of time or under a given set of circumstances. This means totally surrendering yourself to your master. For those who can mentally and emotionally do this, it is enormously powerful and may be the fastest way to completely understand how they think, work and live.
The right mentor can change your fortunes, your happiness and your life. What are you willing to do to ensure that you have the right mentor or mentors forever? Identify your ideal mentor, create your strategy and start the conversation today. You future depends on it.
Rick Barrera is a branding expert and customer service speaker, as well as the author of the bestselling book: Overpromise and Overdeliver: The Secrets of Unshakable Customer Loyalty.