The new CEO of Delta Airlines, Ed Bastion, was recently interviewed by Kai Ryssdal on a Marketplace segment that aired on August 30, 2016. Ryssdal ends many of his interviews by asking his guests to describe their job in five words or less. Without pause, Bastion responded “Taking care of our people.”

He nailed it! “Taking care of our people” should be the new motto for leaders across all industries. It reminds me of an interview in the Bangor Daily News last year with James Conlon, the retired president and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank. He was asked what advice he had for future leaders. His reply, “It’s all about the people.”

“At the end of the day, it’s about the employees, the customers and those communities out there,” Conlon said. “That would be my singular piece of advice… to never forget that.”

Words to live by. Take care of people. It’s all about the people. I once saw a presentation by Gigi Woodruff from the YMCA of the USA; one line caught my attention “If you starve your employees, they will eat your customers.” It’s our employees that are in charge; employees drive the bus, no matter what leaders tell themselves. It’s all about the people.

Without people, we have no business. Without people, we have no customers. Without people, we have no communities. Without people we have nothing.

Corporations are NOT people; only people are people. We don’t do business with companies; we do business with the people in those companies. And in this hectic, fast-paced, sometimes so connected we’re disconnected world we need people that will help us, and we need to help people. We need to make sure we are staying connected to our employees and our customers; we need to do this every single day.

As leaders, our first job is to set the direction, identify the goal, choose our desired outcomes. We then have to make sure people have the training and resources necessary to achieve the vision. Then we get out of the way and make sure all barriers to their success are eliminated.

When success is achieved, we say thank you. Our most important job is taking care of our people.


This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on October 27, 2016

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