The success of any business relies on the ability to guide and serve people as a helping hand in order to accomplish the success of organization as a team. A leader deals with people’s characters and his/her interpersonal ability to influence people in order to achieve what is good for a person and businesses on the whole.
According to David Neeleman (2007), “People do a better job if they respect the leader of the company. I learned that on my mission the value of people and how to truly appreciate them.”
- Qualities Expected from a Leader
- “Trustworthiness” (a person with credibility in the entire organization).
- Intelligence (accomplishment of the organizational and employees’ success).
- Communication Skills (ready for active listening, reasoning, and answering).
- Interpersonal Skills (communicating and leading people by its own ability of charisma and professionalism).
- Visionary (this bringing the opportunity of unveiling the most significant results).
- Accountability (a person whom an organization can rely on and trust).
- Ability to Influence his/her team.
- Simplification (to be able to find solutions for a complex issue and simplify it thereafter).
- Learning from Failures (wisdom comes from the experience based on failures).
- Hands on the Job (proving that every position is important for the success of the organization).
3. David Neeleman’s Leadership
David Neeleman is a founder of several airlines including JetBlue and Azul, a Brazilian airline, and he is considered a leader due to his visionary hands-on leadership style in accountability of his team, employees, and customers. Focusing on a company which people love to work in, JetBlue was launched in 2000 based on the experience Neeleman achieved throughout his life. His leadership skills are based on the experience of working in office, at a check-in counter tagging bags, and as a flight attendant as well, as it is vital to keep a strict eye on the customers’ claims and expectations so that to be careful and mindful in serving them.
Always focused on the best he can suggest for the company and employees, David took a bad decision during one critical moment for the aviation, and it cost him a position at JetBlue. However, he was sure that his company and customers remain untouchable. David Neeleman was accountable for the incidents and took full responsibility for the company’s problems. He found solutions appropriately apologizing and asking customers to put their trust in the company once again.
Born in Brazil and raised in the United States, David Neeleman acquired a good sight of the world and of how to deal with people and manage relationships with them. He struggled at school and it was a college dropout caused by his unknown ADD, but this never compromised his creativity and ability to lead people successfully. A friend who called Neeleman to take control of a small travel agency in Salt Lake City gave him a great starting point in his career. In a short time, this small travel agency had become Morris Air, an airline that provided customers with an opportunity to fly as cheap as buying a bus ticket. This company was acquired by Southwest Airlines and rendered Neeleman 20 million dollars in profits, and a promising career. Despite some problems at Southwest Airlines, David left the company and aimed at his next big move becoming a cofounder at West Jet, the second biggest airline in Canada. The success in the Canadian airline provoked Neeleman for the greatest investment in JetBlue where he became well known as a risk taker by launching a low-cost and high-quality customer experience airline. JetBlue is still a great successful company, but, unfortunately, he is not CEO anymore based on his leadership belief to put his team and customers forward, rather than the board of directors and investors. Despite the situation with JetBlue, Neeleman did not give up, and moved back to Brazil launching a very successful airline Azul, which also means Blue. A fast-growing airline in Brazil jumped in less than three years of operation from 235 million of initial investment and three aircrafts to 2.2 billion dollars of business revenues and 56 aircrafts in operation. From the beginning, David Neeleman has always been creative, and his hands on visionary ambitions of leading people effectively turned all his businesses into successful stories.
5. Leadership and Management
The success of Neeleman’s career is based on the simplicity to effectively communicate with all members of the company on each level of organizational hierarchy as well as being always ready to help. David is a hands-on manager and leader for his companies. People working for him know that no matter what happens his efforts will be always turned into success. During his remarkable time at JetBlue, David Neeleman donates his entire yearly bonus to the employees’ retirement fund to make sure they trust the company. Also, David is a hands-on leader and manager as he believes that each position in the organization is valuable. Following his principle “We are a team that makes up the company, and my job is important as any other in the airline” goes along with his understanding that everyone is equally important to and responsible for the company.
The fast-growing airline in the USA for that period slowed down and the economic downturn started to affect when the price for oil cumulated with one of the most severe winters New York ever had. This change was too fast and Neeleman knew that changes would affect the company’s mission, even though his decision was based on his team and customers’ satisfaction. The board of directors consequently dropped him from chief operation officer of the company. David Neeleman appeared in public just after the his idea of being accountable and responsible. Thereafter, it turned into a bill of rights costing 30 million dollars to the company, and the promise of that it will never happen again. Besides, Neeleman sent a personal letter to every customer affected explaining the situation and asking for their trust in the company, as they want to prove that this situation will never repeat. The most fascinating thing in his apology is the need to justify his actions, and he made it clear and personal in an informal sincere speech that the last thing he wanted to see was his team and customers’ feeling of unhappiness.
6. Remarkable Accomplishments
The most notable accomplishments in his career are the ability to be accountable during difficult situations as well as his creativity and management style to create companies which people would like to work for. Considering all the companies he was in charge and launched, Morris Air, WestJet, JetBlue, and Azul are all successful examples of leadership and management.
While David was working at MorrisAir, he introduced the e-ticket system, no paper tickets, and home call-center operators to lower the costs and provide better customer service. The paperless ticket system is nowadays used all over the world by most of the airlines, and this saves billions of dollars and it is environment-friendly. JetBlue has brought to the American population a better flying experience where customers feel comfortable with their leather seats, extra legroom, and the satellite TV. David Neeleman created a company that people love to work for and in which customers put their trust. Despite the some bad situations, apologies by the CEO have been well accepted and even more customers joined the JetBlue network. Lastly, Azul airline is a brand new concept introduced to a potential new growing market, Brazil, where David Neeleman provided the population with an opportunity to afford flying with customized payment plans. Besides, the company provides a high customer experience, cutting-edge aircrafts, and receives numerous awards: Best Low-Cost Airline in Latin America, Most Innovative Company of Brazil, and The Best Airline Company of Brazil.