Thursday, September 8, 2016

One Year Later

I like to find and celebrate the greatness in those I work with, no matter the title, no matter the responsibilities. I tend not to do it on my timeline in consideration of my airline-employer's social media policy. But rules have their exceptions, even those rules that are self-imposed.

A year ago, my company turned the corner on a dark chapter which had culminated with the public excoriation of our chief executive over some extraordinarily questionable dealings with powerful officials at one of our largest hubs. His actions were a disgrace to our business reputation and could potentially result in charges for he and our organization. Our Board of Directors acted. The CEO in question was replaced by a board member with no previous experience in our arguably highly specialized industry.

I'm fond of saying that not all leaders are in leadership positions and that not all those in leadership positions are true leaders. But when a "natural" leader is placed into the proper leadership position, marvelous things can and will happen. Kismet.

September 8, 2015 was a pivotal date for my airline-employer, having suffered through years of "muddling through" a less-than-optimal merger of equals. It seemed that we had all the pieces to a tediously complicated puzzle. What we lacked was a competent puzzle master to help guide us in placing the pieces. As unprepared and ill-equipped as some seemed to think him, our puzzle master began his work.

Less than a month later, on the cusp of a momentous and long-overdue "labor summit" with all our principle work groups, both he and we suffered a setback. Health issues, life-threatening health issues we learned subsequently, threatened our leader and our future with him at the helm. For more than a third of the year since he joined us as our CEO, our new leader has been "out sick", culminating in heart transplant surgery which would have been the end of his work life just a few years ago. But for him and for us, his new heart was a turning point.

Every day, we are faced with the "intersections" in our life, as I call them. Those intersections require us to act based on what we know, what we think and what we believe. Often, the decisions are as simple as what to have for lunch. But on a handful of occasions during our life, they are momentous to the degree that all subsequent intersections are affected by the one. As far as my work life is concerned, today is the anniversary of such an intersection.

As Yogi Berra might have said, "we came to a fork in the road and we took it." The story is as much Hollywood as it is Wall Street but drama sure can make things interesting.

My opinion: one year ago, our puzzle found its master. The pieces have only just begun to fall into place.

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