The Grounding of QANTAS: Courageous Leadership or Corporate Suicide?
There is no doubt that Qantas’ CEO, Alan Joyce, and its board will be watching the results of the airline closely over the next few months. In my experience from a change perspective, courageous decisions by leaders are all too lacking in the current business environment. And, whether you agree with the decision to ground the airline or not, there can be little disagreement that this was indeed a courageous decision.
Albert Einstein once said, “The significant problems that we face cannot be solved from the same level of consciousness that created them.” In a nutshell, the biggest barrier to change is us, and our mindset is the determining factor as to whether we’ll see something as an opportunity or a threat.
The bold action to ground the airline and inconvenience tens of thousands of customers and related businesses certainly created the desired affect; a sense of urgency. Personally, I applaud the courage to act but only time will tell whether it was the right move. Customers will either vote with their feet or understand the longer term benefits of this decision for travel in this country.
The fact is that boundaries in business are becoming less and less relevant and old business models need to change in order to compete. This is not unique to the airlines, of course. Of particular note are the retail, traditional media and manufacturing Industries whose business models are under threat due to evolution of the internet and increased global competition.
Qantas have great people and a lot to be proud of. But the fact remains that by industry benchmarks, there would appear to be big opportunities to improve productivity, work smarter and drive innovation. Many industries are facing the same pressures to change what has been fundamental to their history of success.
I know people who work at Qantas who believe strongly in the brand and believe they are fortunate to work for this organisation. It’s not in any company’s best interest to underpay staff due to a tight employment market. Those with talent will have options in the open market. It’s also not in anyone’s best interest to stand still and watch your business die due to unproductive practices.
Instilling a mindset of productivity and responsibility at all levels is a paradigm shift required by the critical mass at Qantas in order for this great Australian company to prosper into the future. This not only requires courage but the stamina and determination to endure a long term approach to cultural change. A burning platform, like going out of business, can sometimes be the catalyst required.
I’d love to hear your opinions on this topic! Please share your thoughts in our comments.