[July 19, 2017] Whether we know it or not, we all have core values and those values are a foremost influence on our ability to thrive at what we do and succeed in those things we love. Delta Airlines is one of those organizations that has managed to instill crucial core values into their leadership team and employees; having it payoff with a well-run airline and happy customers.
If we were to look at the history of Delta Airlines regarding their safety record and customer service (two essential indicators of quality), we would find that Delta ranks as number one or two in North America.1 As we say in baseball, they have heart in the game. Satisfying their customer base is essential and that is because they take their values seriously.
Delta has what they call Rules of the Road which outline what it means to live out their core values and leadership behaviors every day. Here are their core values that have made them so successful:2
- Honesty: always tell the truth
- Integrity: always keep your deals
- Respect: don’t hurt anyone
- Perseverance: try harder than all our competitors – never give up
- Servant Leadership: care for our customers, our community and each other
It was not always this way. In 2007 Delta emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and appointed Richard H. Anderson as it CEO. Delta is a big, complicated operation and that same year it began profit-sharing with its employees, started its Rules of the Road (a guideline for employees), and the following year merged with Northwest Airlines.
This was a difficult time that through its leadership and great employees was able to move beyond their old corporate culture of short-term thinking, destructive decision making, and poor employee relations. Today, Delta has adjusted to complex market realities and regained its role as industry leader again.
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- This also means that when they are ranked across all world airlines they generally rank in the low 30s. Rarely does an American airline rank better than the mid-20s. That in itself is telling. Why would airlines based in the United States and Canada rank so far down the scale? That is for another post but I can say with personal experience (flying on many airlines worldwide) that there are those, like Emirates, which have far superior service to every North American based airline.