DECEMBER 2013

STOP THE PLANE


I spotted the panicked look in their eyes as the crowd pressed against them. Two senior citizens were being swept to the boarding gate by a euphoric wave of passengers. Pushing past beef-eaters, town criers of London and others in fancy dress, I went to the elderly couple’s rescue.

I was at the international airport in Athens, Greece for the World’s Biggest Offer an audacious attempt by British Airways to kick-start the travel industry following the 1991 Gulf War. That year, every seat, in every class, on every flight worldwide (Concorde included!) was free on St. George’s Day, with carnival-like festivities to capture publicity and mark the day.

It wasn’t often that we Headquarters employees got to serve in the front-line. I did my best to make these two senior passengers feel safe, and to ensure that their customer experience was memorable for the right reasons.

Negotiating the elated crowd, I escorted the aged couple to the bus, onto the plane, and to their seats. I stowed their carry-on bags in the overhead compartment. I even buckled their seat belts. The airlines should hire more people like you! beamed the woman, pointing her bony finger at me. I accepted their blessings and bolted down the corridor past other passengers who were still settling in the already moving plane.

From the middle of the aircraft, I commanded the pilots to stop the plane. Two flight attendants told me it was too late and I had to take a seat. Rushing past them, I entered the cockpit. I said to the pilots, Enjoy your flight to London I need to be in Israel in 3 hours on that plane indicating one on the tarmac. Within minutes, the doors opened, the mobile stairs pulled up to the exit, and I disembarked the aircraft. Shortly after, as per my promise, I was with the local team in Tel Aviv celebrating the World’s Biggest Offer.

Here’s the point: when I commit to a goal, I have my eyes set so firmly on the end result that I will allow nothing to get in its way. Similarly, entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives must focus on the goal and do everything they can to make sure they achieve it. This level of dedication powerfully transforms deals made into done deals no matter where you are or whom you’re with. With that kind of mindset, welcome to making any destination possible.

Now start the plane.

CASE STUDY

The Value of Taking Decisive Action

In early 2005, I was asked by a Nordic multinational to help increase employee engagement in its workplaces across continental Europe. My recommendations included training their leaders to communicate more effectively.

Attendees at the practicum represented a melting pot of cultural diversity as managers from more than 16 countries came together in a single endeavor. Although each person modeled a distinct leadership style appropriate to his/her country’s culture, achieving the goal of the session enabling them to connect with their audiences through storytelling – required that they all adhere to a single process.

During the workshop, one manager who was uncomfortable with the designated process refused to participate. His cynical views and lack of involvement threatened to undermine the process by causing a rift in the group. I had to act rapidly to ensure the group would be able to achieve the program’s objectives.

I approached the uncooperative manager during the break and invited him to make a choice. His two options were to a) stay and participate or b) leave. I explained the consequences of each choice, and the terms and conditions of his staying in behavioral terms, so he could make an informed decision. Then I let him choose between the options. He opted to stay and participate. Moreover, he became the highlight of the program by crafting a compelling message around his personal challenge that day to authentically connect with his peers.

So many times, leaders sabotage their efforts by failing to take decisive action. For example, they may try to be politically correct, or they allow fear of how a remedial action might be taken by the target or of how others might perceive them to paralyze them. They lose precious time to take decisive action by wrangling with thoughts like:

  • “Oh, I don’t want to embarrass this person.”
  • “I can’t force him to do that.”
  • “Maybe I need to be more understanding.”


Acting, or failing to act, to address a dysfunctional situation based on these misguided notions is an inappropriate leadership response. At best, it allows the situation to get worse or even break down entirely resulting in low productivity, decreased employee morale or increased conflict. At the extreme, a lack of decisive action may result in failure to achieve an important objective or in ruined relationships. To establish the most effective course of action, ask yourself two questions:

    1. What is the group’s objective?
    2. What action is in the best interest of the group?


Although you can’t force others to do something against their will, you can offer them options and let them choose. Because they make the decision, they own the outcome.

In short, failing to take decisive action costs you – taking decisive action pays: it can protect your brand, business, and refocus attention on the goal.To learn more about how to ensure your projects or outcomes stay on track by masterfully handling people who engage in undesirable behaviors, I invite you to read this month’s feature article: 6 Steps to Transform Undesirable Behavior to Desirable Behavior

ASK ANGIE

If you could ask a question about what’s holding you back from catapulting your life forward, what would it be? To ask yours, click on the link below.

Q: I’m frustrated with my business partner, who continues to tell me he’s going to do something we’ve agreed to, and then he doesn’t. We have been going in circles for over three months. How do I get him to do what he says he will?

A: Knowing how to get off the all talk and no action merry-go-round has business, social and personal applications. Whether your scenario involves a one-time-only failure to follow through, or a broader pattern of behavior, the process is the same. Until now you’ve been focused on the content of the conversation, which might go along these lines:

“This is what we agreed you would do by now.”
“OK-OK. I’ll do it.”
(He doesn’t do this.)
“We agreed you would have taken care of this.”
“OK-OK. I will.”
(He doesn’t do it.)

That loop can repeat itself ad infinitum. To break this behavioral pattern, you must change the focus. Frame the issue to redirect your partner’s attention from the content of the conversation to the pattern of his inaction. This results in a different conversation:

“Repeatedly you’ve agreed that you would do ABC, yet for three months now, you have not. Let’s talk about what’s going on here.”

By switching the focus of the conversation, you’ve created an opportunity to address and overcome the obstacles to your partner’s following through on the promised action.

Send me your questions. Although I can’t promise to reply to each one individually, you may see yours featured here in an upcoming issue!

WHAT’S NEW

FEATURE ARTICLE:

6 Steps To Transform Undesirable Behavior to Desirable Behavior

Handling people who display undesirable behavior is a critical leadership skill that is handy in personal and social situations.Learn how you can masterfully mitigate or avoid any harm caused by disruptive behavior using this simple process.View the 6-steps now!

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