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My personal favorite book on management is Gordon Bethune's classic From Worst to First, in which he weaves the saga of his work at Continental Airlines from 1994 through 1998 into a comprehensive guide to management. I love his compassion, his often brutal honesty, and in general, his people-oriented approach to management, and the book remains my personal management manual.

Additionally, if you look at how well Continental has survived the past 12 years (most of them under Bethune's tenure) compared to every airline, and also look at how close Continental came to a Chapter 7 liquidation in 1994, in Bethune's first few weeks as CEO, it becomes obvious that not only is Bethune a great leader, but an effective one as well.

I know a few people who work for Continental, and they all loved the experience of working under "Gordo", as he was affectionately known.

Mark's picture

Completely agree. Gordy's a great guy - I have seen him speak a couple of times, and he's just as real as senior execs get. His story about the $65 across the board bonus for one of their goals - I think it was baggage, but it may have been for on time departures - just rings true to me.

You don't have to be smart to be a great manager - you just have to care and pay attention and stay close to your folks.

And if you've got tens of thousands of folks, and the above applies to you, you deserve every dime they pay you.

Mark

WGW's picture

It was for on time departures. They later raised the bar, and increased the bonus to $100.

tokyotony's picture

[quote="WGW"]Additionally, if you look at how well Continental has survived the past 12 years (most of them under Bethune's tenure) compared to every airline, and also look at how close Continental came to a Chapter 7 liquidation in 1994, in Bethune's first few weeks as CEO, it becomes obvious that not only is Bethune a great leader, but an effective one as well.[/quote]

Nothing against the book...just a general opinion about the airline industry: Whenever I fly on a U.S. carrier, the service and attitude is "average". Most of the airlines that I have flown on in Asia are terrific. Not sure if it is the culture or the company, but I would say that if the Asian airlines were permitted to fly within the U.S., many of the U.S. airlines would be in trouble!