Jet Blue Leadership

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David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue airline, garnered support for his new airline in part using inspirational appeals directed at investors and politicians, as well as potential partners. He managed to convince skeptics that he could make his idea of a low cost airline work. Some say Neeleman was successful by “sheer force of his personality” (Kreitner, 2005, p. 378). Neeleman’s primary power base of reference as can be seen in the way airline employees view him. Tom Krizek, JetBlue pilot, said, "I would walk through a burning building for him" (Salter, 2004 ¶1). Surprisingly, this was said after meeting Neeleman only a few hours before. Neeleman has more than just the power of his personality, though. His experience and knowledge of the airline industry was useful when it came to recruiting top employees to JetBlue, as an expert in the airline industry, “his track record served him well” (Kreitner, 2005, p. 379). Using Daniel Goleman’s concept of emotional intelligence (EQ), Neeleman has shown that he has the ability to manage his emotions and behaviors, indicating a high EQ. Neeleman expects to succeed, handles setbacks with ease, and looks at issues with an original perspective. His ability to relate to everyone from baggage handlers to key investors and charm them all is a reflection of his ability to manage relationships and social interaction. Neeleman admits he has an attention deficit disorder, and uses this knowledge to his advantage. This self-awareness and ability to manage his weaknesses has been an important factor in Neeleman’s continued success. Neeleman’s leadership style closest resembles the team management style described by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton (Kreitner, 2005). This emphasis on people is apparent in the daily interactions he has with the employees of JetBlue. Neeleman says,” I want them to know that I value what they do” (Salter, 2004, p. 3). This balance of high concern for both profitability and the people within the organization...
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