Friday, December 3, 2021
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The CEO of United Airlines Just Made a Bold Prediction. These 3 Words Mattered Most

People will forgive a lot if they believe in you, but you can squander that faith quickly if you ask them to give their all for a mission that just isn’t important enough, or a goal that simply isn’t enough to matter.

Against this standard, let’s talk about Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, and a video he recorded for United Airlines employees last week. It’s an intriguing example of how to set the bar high. 

Time will tell if it works, but it’s also a good example of why I think business leaders in all industries should watch what and learn from the airlines–the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s the key theme of my free ebook, Flying Business Class, which you can download here

So, let’s examine Kirby’s speech, according to the airline site Live and Let’s Fly, whose Matthew Klint said he watched the video. Here are a few short, relevant lines for our purposes:

  • “What we’re doing in the next couple years is going to really solidify our position as the leading global airline… 
  • By the time we get to next summer … we’re going to be the largest airline in the world
  • [W]e’ve given ourselves the chance to be, not just the biggest, but the best airline in the world.”

This all sounds pretty standard, I suppose, except when you realize that United Airlines historically hasn’t been close to being the world’s biggest or leading airline.

The superlatives for size have gone to American Airlines most recently. (Worth noting: Kirby served as president of American Airlines until 2016, working closely with current American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, and it’s very clear American is in his sites.)

And yet: “leading,” “biggest,” and “best.” (I think we can consider “largest” and “biggest” as the same superlative for our purposes.) And, with the stated goal of making it happen by next summer…

Read further.


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