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Lessons from the dinner table; a leader talks to leaders on the subject of leadership; tips that make sense

Post by C.R. Roberts / The News Tribune on April 30, 2009 at 12:53 pm with No Comments »
April 30, 2009 12:53 pm

It’s one of the best business events of the year, and last night a few members of Team Trib attended the 8th Annual Business Leadership Awards ceremony as hosted by the University of Washington Tacoma Milgard School of Business.

The stories of the winners are always surprising and well told – this year’s winners were James Milgard, of Milgard Windows & Doors; Bill Matthaei, of Roman Meal; David Ottey, of the Emergency Food Network; and Brian Forth, of SiteCrafting.

The food (I had the chicken, others at the table had the halibut; both were tasty) was proclaimed as good, and better still was the keynote address by William Ayer, chairman and CEO of Alaska Airlines and Alaska Air Group.

We love lists, and Ayer accommodated us with eight tips for business management and four rules to live by.

The tips:

1. Get the right people on the bus.

2. Be urgent about change. Don’t worry about perfection; get to 80 percent and go forward.

3. Improve your capability to execute. If you have a week-long planning meeting, don’t end up with 50 action items. Get one or two, and get to work.

5. What gets measured gets managed. Develop metrics to measure success.

6. Be totally and completely customer-focused. Alaska customers wanted low fares, on-time service and in-plane wi-fi. That’s what Alaska is delivering.

7. As a leader, don’t confuse being popular with doing the right thing. Do the right thing.

8. Develop win-win strategic relationships. An Alaska alliance with American Airlines now makes it easier for customers to "earn and burn miles."

The principles:

1. Don’t buy things you can’t afford.

2. Don’t borrow money you can’t pay back.

3. Don’t do deals you don’t understand.

4. If it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.

Looking at where we are, and how we got here, and who isn’t here anymore, I’d say if CEOs had begun following those principles two years ago, or a year ago, their companies – which might now be faltering – wouldn’t be facing such difficulties.

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