Fly The Friendly Skies of Accountability

Sam Silverstein Blog

We’ve all seen the online videos of the person being dragged off of the United Airlines flight. It looked terrible. It was terrible.

There are several issues at play here that show a lack of accountability.

The first is the decision to drag a person off of a flight. When the airline offered $800 to passengers to give up their seat and it wasn’t taken the next move would have been to offer $1000, $1200 or more. If the airline sold the seats and then needs them back the airline should realize that they are responsible to make it right, not the customer.

Second, who decided to drag the person off of the airplane? Who decided that there were not any other solutions? Which United employees stood around and didn’t interject and say, “This isn’t how we do things here?” In an organization with a culture that encourages accountability all employees help their teammates be accountable.

Third, there was the problem with the first statement from the CEO. When a leader’s first stance is to go defensive rather than look at the facts and try and figure out where they went wrong the outcome is rarely positive. Accountable Leaders always get all the facts before they comment. They also look first to where they or the people they lead may have gone wrong.

A second apology for a problem always lacks credibility.

The reason this situation happened in the first place is because there isn’t a clear set of values that are understood and lived by all United employees. If there were they would have known how to handle the situation. Those values would say how people are supposed to act, how they should work together, how they should treat customers, what excellence is inside of that organization, what character looks like and how they serve the community they do business in.

The clarity of a well defined and established set of values helps everyone make consistent decisions, strive to be accountable to each other and ultimately make sure that when they are in the news it is for a positive example of how accountability thrives inside of their organization.