Monday, April 27, 2009

You gotta read this!

This weekend the NY Times published an interview with Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Airline. The interviewer, Adam Bryant, asked Mr. Anderson a series of questions about leadership, career, meeting management and the qualities he is looking for in recruits. The Times article, headlined, "He Wants Subjects, Verbs and Objects," quickly rose to the top of the Times "Most Popular-E-Mailed" list.

I have pasted the link to the article here so that you can see why the article became viral:

You will find, among other things, that Anderson stresses communication skills as keys to success. About interviewing, he says, "...what you’re trying to find out about are the intangibles of leadership, communication style and the ability to, today, really adapt to change."

Later, he says, "You’re looking for a really strong set of values. You’re looking for a really good work ethic. Really good communication skills. More and more, the ability to speak well and write is important. You know, writing is not something that is taught as strongly as it should be in the educational curriculum. So you’re looking for communication skills."

And, again, he adds, "It’s not just enough to be able to just do a nice PowerPoint presentation. You’ve got to have the ability to pick people. You’ve got to have the ability to communicate. When you find really capable people, it’s amazing how they proliferate capable people all through your organization. So that’s what you’re hunting for."

The title of the interview is taken from this passage, "I think this communication point is getting more and more important. People really have to be able to handle the written and spoken word. And when I say written word, I don’t mean PowerPoints. I don’t think PowerPoints help people think as clearly as they should because you don’t have to put a complete thought in place. You can just put a phrase with a bullet in front of it. And it doesn’t have a subject, a verb and an object, so you aren’t expressing complete thoughts.

And a lot of what we do in communication, when you write e-mail, you need to express yourself very clearly so people understand whether we’re going to L.A. today or we’re going to Boston today."

Finally, when asked about business school curricula, Anderson says, "When you’re managing as much change as corporations globally must deal with today, the ability to communicate and communicate effectively is so important that it ought to be a core capability in a business school curriculum. We measure, study, quantify, analyze every single piece of our business. Business schools in the United States have done a phenomenal job of creating that capability. But then you’ve got to be able to take all that data and information and transform it into change in the organization and improvement in the organization and the formulation of the business strategy."

I don't know about you, but I could kiss him for this interview. It will give me justification and encouragement for the next ten years! Thanks, Richard Anderson and the NY Times!


  1. It's like you were sitting next to him and telling him what to say :) That interview was insightful. Thank you for posting it!