New York Times writer Adam Bryant recently had a conversation with Gordon Bethune, the CEO of Continental Airlines from 1994 to 2004. In it, Bethune shares some insights on leadership and management, including some real gems. Among them:
- Treat people, no matter their role in the company, with respect
- Always share the stage
- Hire the best people, give them autonomy, and hold them accountable
- Communicate openly and often; and always tell the truth
Toward the end of the article, Bethune is talking about being visible to employees and showing a real interest in them. He relates this story:
The best compliment I ever heard happened one Christmas. I always went out to the airport on holidays, and always made sure that I was there and I’d thank people for giving up their holiday to work. We’d go down to the break room. I’d always eat down in the break room where the food was being passed out.
I went to sit down at this big long table with these two guys, and I said, “Anybody sitting here?”
And one of them said to the other: “I told you he’d be here. Give me my $10.”
He had bet that guy $10 that I’d show up.