What Should Air India's Leadership Do?

Many of my leadership coaching clients, who are CEOs and MDs have been asking me this recently. It seems to be on the mind of every leader and that is why I decided to share this here with you.

"What should Air India's leadership do and how should a leader handle a crisis of this sort?"

Air India is facing a massive challenge today. A man who was drunk urinated on a female passenger mid-air in business class. The crew and the pilot weren't trained to handle it and this has lead to major hit to the Air India brand, which recently got acquired by the Tata Group. (You can read more about it in the press.)

The Tata Group firstly has an impeccable brand and trust. It is one of the world's most trusted brands. And I must disclose I regularly work with the group and their leadership. And my experience with them has been phenomenal. Truly a world class group.

Air India faces major challenges when it comes to brand perception and service. I have a soft corner for Air India, because when I was in school, they awarded me The Air India Scholastic award for excellent performance. And I truly want them to come out of this stronger.

The government did the right thing by selling Air India to the Tata Group, and right now am sure things must be seeming very challenging and tough. They must be hoping that people forget the incident.

But I believe what is happening with Air India today is actually a gift in disguise. As a leader, I welcome this as a huge opportunity to bring in massive change.

This is what I call war-time leadership. Where drastic measures need to be brought in order to inspire massive change.

The entire Air India Limited leadership have a huge opportunity. An opportunity that will ensure they are remembered in corporate history for decades to come.

It is the same opportunity that was presented to Howard Schultz of Starbucks (interestingly Starbucks India has an alliance with the Tata Group for the Indian market.) in 2008.

The coffee outlets were doing terrible business and the global financial crisis hit the world. Howard Schultz used this as an opportunity to transform and restructure the entire business. He closed down outlets that weren't doing well, he got rid of products that weren't key to the coffee experience and got rid of people who weren't in line with the culture and vision. You can read about it in his book Onward.

Today Howard and Starbucks have become a global role model when it comes to war-time leadership. He used a challenge as a gift.

Similarly, Mahatma Gandhi, did the same thing. He used a crisis as a gift.

He was a lawyer, who was leading a comfortable life in South Africa. One day, he bought a first class ticket in a train. But he wasn't allowed to board the train, just because he wasn't white and was brown.

He argued, that he had paid money, but they told him, "You are brown, and don't deserve to sit with other white people. You are inferior because of your skin color."

When Gandhi sat in the second class compartment, it inspired him to fight using non-violence. Mentally he used his anger to bring in change. His personal challenge became a gift to millions of people. It propelled him to greatness and brought down one of the mightiest empires known to man.

After India's freedom, the British empire crumbled.

So again a challenge, was what brought out the best leadership.

I can share hundreds of such case studies, of people who have come to us and how The Happionaire® Way system, has helped them convert their challenge into an opportunity to greatness.

Air India can use this present crisis to bring in radical change. They can embrace this challenge and bring in new systems of training, coaching and letting go of people who aren't ready to learn and grow.

They can invest in a new communication campaigns. They can change language patterns.

They can install a new "Life Operating System"™ to really move ahead.

Everyone loves a comeback story. Think of Rocky. Think of Valmiki. Think of Cadbury Gifting India (their chocolates had worms in them, but they embraced the challenge and came out stronger.)

Today the opportunity in front of Air India Limited and it's leadership is to be remembered in history for their excellent skills of transformation. It is a huge gift to the Tata Group.

The question is will they grab it?

I hope they do.

Yogesh Chabria


Yogesh Chabria is a #1 bestselling author, entrepreneur and founder of The Happionaire® Way. His programs, online training solutions and strategies have helped some of the world’s largest companies scale up faster, happier and better. To find out more how you can benefit visit www.happionaire.com


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