Relationships Matter

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit with Doug Parker, Chairman of American Airlines. Our conversation occurred only days after he finished a nine-year sting as CEO of the airline.

It was a great discussion filled with numerous lessons. I took lots of notes. The next day, I sat down to review what Doug shared with me. One idea rose to the top of my takeaway list. As Doug reflected on leading through challenging times, he said, “Relationships matter. In times of crisis, you should not be making introductions.”

Doug knows a great deal about leading through a crisis:

  • He became the CEO of America West Airlines ten days before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
  • He served as CEO of US Airways during the 2008 recession.
  • He led American Airlines through two years of the COVID pandemic.

As he shared these experiences, he continually reinforced the need to build and maintain relationships with colleagues, team members, partners, industry leaders, customers, government officials, and numerous other stakeholders.

You may not be the leader of a multi-billion airline, but two things are inevitable for all of us:

  1. Crises will happen.
  2. Investing in relationships today will help us navigate through times of crisis.

Based on these fundamental truths, ask yourself two questions:

  1. How are you consciously investing in relationships today to help you navigate through future crises?
  2. How are you consciously investing in relationships today so you can help others to navigate through crises?

We designed this week’s tool and video to help you answer these two questions. Watch the video and then complete the tool. Identify 2-3 roles you currently fill. Explore 2-3 key relationships you should nurture for each role. Make specific commitments to invest in those key relationships.

Once you’ve completed the form, work to:

  1. Complete commitments.
  2. Reassess where your relationships stand.
  3. Make new commitments to build deeper and stronger relationships.


Photo by Ross Sokolovski on Unsplash