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Leadership and The Dirty Work
The airline, Jet Blue, has been featured in many magazines as a new company that has hard great results and success so far. A lot too has been mentioned about the challenges they face ahead and about the culture they created at the start and are working hard to foster now. One of the many things that sets Jet Blue apart is their focus on teamwork. Here's one example. They have no cleaning crews - every employee on the flight (including pilots and those not working but on the flight) cleans up the plane. This saves time and money - both things very important to any business.
When I say everyone helps clean, I mean everyone - including the CEO, David Neeleman. Neeleman helps the flight attendants hand out snacks and helps clean up. This takes Neeleman's words about teamwork and turns them into action. He is quoted as saying, "You can't ask employees to do something you aren't willing to do yourself."
I learned this lesson from my father growing up on a farm. There were many tasks I was asked to do - some of them much more unpleasant than picking up newspaper and snack wrappers on a plane - but all of them were done knowing that my Dad had done them and was willing to do them still, even if he had higher priority work to do.
This is an extremely important lesson for us as leaders. Being willing to do the grunt work, the dirty work (call it whatever you want - on the farm there was some VERY dirty work) builds commitment and shows that all of the work in the organization is important.
As a leader, please don't push this off saying you want to delegate and make people responsible for their own work. Delegation and ownership is important to be sure. If you always delegate the unpleasant stuff, but always want to help with the more glamorous tasks, your comments of delegation will fall on deaf ears.
Help. Show up for clean up. Be a part of the team. These actions will make you a better leader.
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group (http://KevinEikenberry.com), a learning consulting company. To receive a free Special Report on leadership that includes resources, ideas, and advice go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/leadership.asp or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.
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