Leadership 2.0 – responsibility with your tie off?

JetBlue As a frequent flier of JetBlue airlines, I was as disappointed as others to hear the news of the horrible delays, poor customer service, and general lack of strategic planning that the company had during the weather problems of mid-February 2007. One thing that I knew about JetBlue, however, was its roll-up-the-sleeves mentality.

So it wasn’t too big of a surprise to me to see the JetBlue CEO David Neeleman, taking responsibility for these problems in his rather candid video message to JetBlue customers spread out over YouTube. What I thought was very interesting, however, was the following:

  1. a corporate CEO of one of the most popular airlines in the US dressed casually in a message to its clients
  2. a video message where it’s clear he is talking directly with the clients rather than seeming overly rehearsed and memorized (or teleprompted) message
  3. his opening of “Dear JetBlue customers…”

What interests me most is the uncanny notion that our technology community, lead by those that have a strong focus on community building and reputation validation systems, seems to have made a public relations communication piece like this reality. Before YouTube, would Neeleman have had such a candid “speech” with clients in such a casual format?

Maybe the bigger question is this: do we want our leaders, corporate or otherwise, to seem more like us? Is this a good thing? By doing so, are we missing what by definition makes a leader, a leader? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines leader as, “a person who has commanding authority or influence.”

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 20th, 2007 at 7:48 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Leadership 2.0 – responsibility with your tie off?”

  1. wmarr says:

    Ryan,

    Contrary to your post that this is a refreshing change of leadership (or perhaps you didn’t quite go there), I think this is tried and true extension of corporate image. JetBlue appeals to a younger, less formal audience (like yourself) versus the corporate lot that can afford to not fly JetBlue. That’s their market niche.

    **Everything** about JetBlue smacks of informal – they way they do their exit presentations, to their goodbyes at the end of your flight. That is what their customers expect and like.

    This video is an extensive of larger branding and that branding just happens to include a certain informality.

    This is still a result of corporate best practices (project brand in all communications).

    Doesn’t make so refreshing afterall eh?

  2. Ryan Ozimek
    says:

    As a coincidence, I just received this from my friends at jetBlue via email:

    Dear JetBlue Customers,

    We are sorry and embarrassed. But most of all, we are deeply sorry.

    Last week was the worst operational week in JetBlue’s seven year history. Following the severe winter ice storm in the Northeast, we subjected our customers to unacceptable delays, flight cancellations, lost baggage, and other major inconveniences. The storm disrupted the movement of aircraft, and, more importantly, disrupted the movement of JetBlue’s pilot and inflight crewmembers who were depending on those planes to get them to the airports where they were scheduled to serve you. With the busy President’s Day weekend upon us, rebooking opportunities were scarce and hold times at 1-800-JETBLUE were unacceptably long or not even available, further hindering our recovery efforts.

    Words cannot express how truly sorry we are for the anxiety, frustration and inconvenience that we caused. This is especially saddening because JetBlue was founded on the promise of bringing humanity back to air travel and making the experience of flying happier and easier for everyone who chooses to fly with us. We know we failed to deliver on this promise last week.

    We are committed to you, our valued customers, and are taking immediate corrective steps to regain your confidence in us. We have begun putting a comprehensive plan in place to provide better and more timely information to you, more tools and resources for our crewmembers and improved procedures for handling operational difficulties in the future. We are confident, as a result of these actions, that JetBlue will emerge as a more reliable and even more customer responsive airline than ever before.

    Most importantly, we have published the JetBlue Airways Customer Bill of Rights—our official commitment to you of how we will handle operational interruptions going forward—including details of compensation. I have a video message to share with you about this industry leading action.

    You deserved better—a lot better—from us last week. Nothing is more important than regaining your trust and all of us here hope you will give us the opportunity to welcome you onboard again soon and provide you the positive JetBlue Experience you have come to expect from us.

    Sincerely,

    David Neeleman Founder and CEO JetBlue Airways

    David: I forgive you. Back to watching the basketball game in my 36″ legroom seat on the Wonk flight.

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