Gregg Saretsky gets a lot of press for his efforts to improve the performance of Canadian airline WestJet. What he should also get a lot of press about is his skill as a leader. I really liked a story about Gregg working a flight recently as a cabin attendant. he was obviously experienced in the role and comfortable joking with passengers and staff alike as the flight progressed.

Having worked his whole life in the airline industry, he can empathize with other staff and bring a much more personal touch to the role that someone who would never have worked in the industry. This degree of empathy that experience brings is essential, not only in the good times but particularly in bad ones as well.

An empathetic leader will still have to make the tough calls but employees are much more comforted and thus motivated even in bad times knowing that someone understands what their troubles might be, is sensitive to their needs and has their back.