Gaining exposure in jobs on the frontlines can be highly instructive in comprehending the mechanism of a company’s daily operations. It allows CEOs and executives to engage with employees and customers, identify potential issues, and ensure high standards are being maintained.Recently, Jens Ritter, CEO of Lufthansa, got the chance to demonstrate the difficulty and significance of working as a flight attendant on a journey from the Middle East to Germany and back.
Ritter was amazed by the amount of organization required in his role as a flight attendant. He noted that even when things didn't go as planned, such as the meals not being exactly as listed on the menu cards, it was necessary to stay attentive and address each guest's individual needs. While Ritter had previous experience as a pilot, he found that being present and charming during a flight when his biological clock was telling him to sleep was an entirely different challenge.
Ritter is not the only CEO to have taken on a frontline role. Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran was snapped providing the service for his customers, while Laxman Narasimhan, CEO of Starbucks, completed barista classes and intends to work occasional barista shifts each month.These experiences not only provide CEOs with a deeper understanding of their company's operations, but also allow them to connect with employees and customers on a more personal level.
Leaders who spend the majority of their workday in the office may come to be detached from the actualities of those working in the field. They may rely on reports and data to understand what is happening in the business, but this can be a limited perspective.According to Lee Peterson, executive vice president of thought leadership at retail consulting firm WD Partners, understanding what truly matters requires the kind of insight that can only be obtained through direct interactions with customers and employees. Comprehending what people are saying, thinking, and feeling is essential.
Executives involved in frontline roles can draw attention to any present problems and address them promptly, before they become unsolvable problems. Doing so helps them gain insight into the firm and make well-informed choices. Such hands-on experience also enables them to better envision the impact their leadership and decisions have on the customer's experience.
Additionally, taking on frontline roles can boost employee morale and motivation. When CEOs and executives work alongside their employees, it shows that they value their contributions and understand the challenges they face. This can breed an environment of success and motivate employees to do their best.
Overall, CEOs and executives who engage in frontline roles gain valuable insights into their company's operations, connect with employees and customers, and can make more informed decisions. These firsthand experiences can lead to better strategic planning, improved customer experiences, and a more engaged and motivated workforce.