JetBlue on leadership

Andy mentioned to me I should read an article in Fast Company on JetBlue. It’s a glowing article as I find articles usually are in Fast Company. But I have seen David Neeleman speak before and comparing what I’ve seen with what I read was consistent in this case. Aside from all the “innovation” accolades the article writes about, what interested me most about the company was how they treat their employees.

For example, in high tech (in my experience at least) when you get promoted to a managerial position, poof you’re a manager. Yesterday a direct report – – today a manager. Go! I’ve see few folks make the transition easily. In fact, more often than not, they suck as a manager for years until they figure things out on their own. I know I did.

Contrast that to JetBlue, their entire sr. staff teaches in their Principals of Leadership (POL) program. The program came about as a reaction to a survey where they found 1/3 of respondents voiced unhappiness about their supervisors. Not a surprising statistic based on my experience. The article mentions:

Employees griped about bosses whose abrasive style and favoritism undermined the environment that David and Dave had nurtured. The answer was POL…

…The idea is to reinforce and transmit the key elements of JetBlue’s culture by teaching attendees to practice the five primary principals: “Treat your people right,” “Communicate with your team,” “Inspire greatness in others,” “Encourage initiative and innovation,” and “Do the right thing.”

The thing I like most about this program is that the sr. execs are teaching them – – not some HR person. Culture is set from the top on down. It’s encouraging to see some companies out there that take their employees seriously.