Eating Humble Pie at 30,000 Feet

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to reinforce the integrity of your corporate culture. Reading time: 3:14.

      The CEO and the president of a multi-billion dollar company headed off to the airport for a business trip.

Virtual Images       No limousine. No private jet. They flew commercial—in coach. No first class treatment for them. They were too focused on treating others first class.

      That’s what leaders do. They don’t regularly spend on themselves for comfort or convenience. They more regularly invest in others for their added comfort or convenience that increases their performance and productivity.

     Of course, the CEO and President could have justified the expense of a private jet for a business trip. But on this occasion, they had planned a larger than normal window in their schedules to accommodate the added travel time.

      They saved a lot more than money. They wrote still another page in the culture of the company that seeks to develop an egalitarian working environment between management and employees. They are partners –in production and in profits.

     airbusy Their pecuniary behavior in effect sent a clear message to all employees —let’s work together as efficiently as we can with as little waste as possible.

      The leader who saves a dollar in effect gives everyone in the company the potential for a stronger bonus in profit-sharing companies.

      Yet the temptation is often too great, especially for middle managers who see their peers at other companies flying first class.

      They may feel under so much stress they can easily justify in their mind paying a few hundred more dollars for their share of the first class treatment.  But then that sense of short term convenience can quickly stretch to a sense of long term arrogant entitlement.

      Consider the two middle managers who returned to the corporate hangar following their day-long business meeting.

      They were told the corporate jet had two open seats for their flight back to corporate headquarters on a Friday night and therefore they could save the company on the two commercial plane tickets they held arriving the same evening.

       But the jet wasn’t going to take off for another two hours. The two middle managers conferred and realized that if they flew commercial they could get back “in time tonight to watch (a favorite television show).

     They chose to spend the added flight expense on THEMSELVES. And they failed to teach the newly hired supervisor flying with them a critical lesson in the culture of the company: Think We not Me!

      All show is no dough. All show–extravagant limousines, jet planes, duplicate plane tickets – is no dough. Leaders know the most edible dough is always served as Humble Pie.

     Take it from Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, writing in his autobiography Sam Walton, Made in America: “A lot of people think it’s crazy of me to fly coach whenever I go on a commercial flight, and maybe I do overdo it a bit. But I feel like it’s up to me as a leader to set an example. It’s not fair for me to ride one way and ask everybody else to ride another way. The minute you do that, you start building resentment and your whole team idea begins to strains at the seams.” ”

       Indeed, the best leaders coach. In coach.

Today’s ImproveMINT

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