December 1, 2017

Airports and Accountability

Yesterday I flew back home to Atlanta from LAX after working with some amazing leaders at Netflix. Being in Atlantan it’s hard not to fly Delta and as a result I’ve reached what they call Platinum status. Beyond upgrades, it allows me and many others to board early. This is especially important for me when I’m traveling with my guitar. After all we all know what airlines can do to guitars. Delta has implemented some line up cues to “help” with the boarding process. However, for someone like me who actually likes harmony and order, it has created a level of frustration for me.

Lack of Awareness

As you can imagine the poor design/flow doesn’t allow room for real “lines”. As a result the lines get a bit interpretative. That of course leads to people who cluelessly mill about to “fall in” assuming that there is no way the privileged sky zone line could be THAT long. I can usually spot those people. There is no ill intention. They are just not aware. I give them a pass…ish. If i’m honest that means i’m judging them less. As someone in the business of awareness, I had to get over my own blind spot of judgement and realized that everyone is at a different place in their awareness. I separate the intention from the action. When I politely inform these people that the long line is for them too, they are bumming and shocked but fairly cool and fall in.

We All Know Right From Wrong

After politely informing two people about where the back of the line was a woman surprisingly took a different approach. She walked up to me and said, “well, the line isn’t really clear.” To which I replied, “yeah, that doesn’t really matter. All of these people have been waiting here.” Her husband had already gone to the back of the line. He knew. She kept saying the word “well” over and over. I wasn’t having it. Then she told that she had been traveling for 14 hours and that she just wanted to get home. I felt for her. I really did. However, that wasn’t nearly a good enough excuse to cut in line in my opinion. As you can probably guess, she went to the back of the line.

Approaching Not Confronting

What’s fascinating is that everyone around me seemed grateful and slightly in awe that I had the perceived guts to have the necessary conversations. It wasn’t hard for me for a few reasons. First, I knew that we BOTH knew that there wasn’t any real room for interpretation over the rules. So the truth was evident and undeniable. Secondly, I didn’t confront anyone. I approached them. Believe me, there is a huge difference. People can feel it and I have found that simply being in the mindset of approach yields a drastically different outcome when attempting to hold others accountable.

I think it is a big miss on Delta’s part. In their attempt to be more efficient there is collateral damage going on for those of us who actually care about harmony and order. I doubt it’s even on their radar. We are living in a world where few people feel comfortable speaking up. Sadly, many of our organizations reflect what is happening in every day society. Look the other way. Let it be someone else’s problem. Nobody wants to be uncomfortable. I think it is up to all of us to hold each other accountable in a way that helps us step into our best selves inside and outside of the workplace. After all, isn’t that what an effective leader really does day in and day out?

– Alan

December 1, 2017

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