Tag Archives: greatness

What will I invest?

I met Captain Sam as I was flying  home last week – we sat beside one another on the flight.   Sam (I have changed the name because his business environment is really not healthy) has flown for American Airlines long enough that he has seen lots of change and 3 or 4 CEO’s.   We talked about a lot of things but what struck me was how the culture at airlines  was chipping away at Sam.  At one point I asked him about his relationship to his employer.  He said he feels like a 40 watt light bulb – cheap and easy to change.   Whoa!  Note to Gerald Arpey – you have a lot more to worry about than just  falling revenues!  Mihaly Csikzenthmihaly says it very well in his book Good Business:  Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning, “…if management views workers not as valuable, unique individuals but as tools to be discarded when no longer needed, then employees will also regard the firm as nothing more than a machine for issuing paychecks, with no other value or meaning.  Under such conditions it is difficult to do a good job…”   Mr Arpey,  I assure you that Sam is the best pilot he can be every time he enters the cockpit, but what is the burden on your workforce when the best of the best feel like a 40 watt light bulb?   Those who lead – whatever size the company – need to balance the needs of the business with the needs of their workforce.  Jim Collins reminds us in Good to Great:  Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t,  “Greatness is not a function of circumstance.  Greatness…is a matter of conscious choice.”