Good news bad news tell me now

Good news bad news tell me now - Good news bad news tell me...

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Good news bad news tell me now September 27, 2009 CORNER OFFICE Bad News or Good, Tell Me Now  This interview with Lawrence W. Kellner, chairman and chief executive of  Continental Airlines , was conducted, edited and condensed by Adam Bryant. Q. What are the most important leadership lessons you’ve learned? A. A lot of the lessons probably came from my dad. When I was a kid, he was a  manager in a Campbell’s Soup plant and had several hundred people working  for him. When I watched him at work, he never really seemed to tell people  what to do. He always seemed to figure out how to get them to want to do it.  He always spent a lot of time figuring out who his best people were, and he  spent a lot of time figuring out what it was they wanted to do, and then it all  seemed to work flawlessly. So it comes back to getting the right people, and  getting them doing the right thing, and getting them the right training.  Q. Any other key lessons that you learned along the way? A. The importance of listening and, in many cases, getting the quiet person  who doesn’t necessarily always contribute to speak up. You’ve got to go ask  them sometimes, and I counsel them on the side: “Don’t make me come find  you. When you’re in a meeting and you see where we’re going and you’ve got a  view on it, don’t wait until I ask your opinion.”  As I moved up the chain, I quickly realized that I knew less about a lot of areas  than the people who worked for me, and if I was talking, they were just going  to do what I wanted. So it was really important to listen to them and get their  feedback. By listening to all sides, I could try to figure out the right answer.
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Q. How do you set the tone to make that happen? A. People have a tendency to deliver good news. I mean if somebody  unscheduled pops up to my office, the odds are they’ve got a piece of good  news and they’re eager to share it. But when something is going wrong, they  have to feel they can flag it as quickly as when it’s going right, so that you can  shift the organization and try to solve the problem. It’s a leadership structure 
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