Surprise them with Integrity

A Fast Company reporter was interviewing the CEO of JetBlue airways for a story about how the airline will recover from the bad press it received earlier this year as it stranded passengers for days during an ice storm. Delta and American stranded passengers, too, of course, but as the article mentions, our expectations for those airlines are already low.

During the interview, the CEO “snapped” at the journalist. He had been working like crazy doing interviews and managing this crisis, and he was tired. At the end of the article, the author wrote this:

When the interview ends, Neeleman does something that surprises me, although it shouldn’t. He says he’s sorry for snapping.

The article argues that JetBlue will recover from this crisis, because it had done so well in building goodwill with its customers. It did that by doing things that are surprising but shouldn’t be (like airline employees that are friendly and have fun, or a CEO taking responsibility for his own behavior).

That is something worth reflecting on: what can you do that would surprise (pleasantly) the key people in your work life? What’s keeping you from doing it?