Recently, while searching for a file on my home computer, I stumbled upon a document entitled “Communicate on Purpose.” The title fascinated me, but I admit it rang no bells. Until I opened it.
Most organizations crave stability. They forecast budgets in one-year increments. They develop multiyear strategies. They invest in the long-term development of employees. But that stability can be threatened in an instant by events beyond their control — including the abrupt loss of their chief executive. It happens every day — from Fox News to aircraft carriers to the local PTA.
While September 11, 2001, was a dark day for America, it also provided a shining example of what public employees — and their unions — offer our nation every day. We all have our own memories of that morning — where we were and what we were doing when we learned that the World Trade Center was burning and the Pentagon had been hit.
A few years ago, I had the rare privilege of attending a routine but exceptional meeting in an office at a major U.S. passenger airline. It featured representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration, the pilots’ union and senior management of the airline.
Over the years I have worked closely with a number of outstanding leaders – many of whom were sterling communicators. Some were former military officers who exchanged uniform for suit. Others were lifelong academics who carried the air of professorship into all of their work. And others were natural politicians who rose through the ranks of their profession.