Editor’s letter

Organisations don’t succeed or fail, the individuals who lead and manage
them do. The story of Air New Zealand has always been about individual strengths and shortcomings. That’s why so much rests on the shoulders of the airline’s new CEO, Ralph Norris. His performance in the role will, all things being equal, determine the company’s future. There are some peripheral issues, like the vagaries of politics and politicians, but it seems likely Norris accepted the job because he was assured that the Government, as shareholder, will let him get on with it. That understanding will come unstuck only if his prescription for recovery proves so politically unpalatable that Prime Minister Helen Clark, can’t stomach it. In other words, if his remedy upsets people as voters.
So why would an individual who has laboured to construct such an outstanding professional reputation for himself place the edifice astride such an obvious fault line? He had, at least to the outside world, nothing to prove. He is, to date, winner. Why not quit while he is ahead? The answer lies within the individual. What drives leaders to lead, winners to compete again? Ralph Norris told our writer Mark Story that he had “unfinished business” with the airline. Unless he stepped up to the mark with whatever skills he had developed as CEO feeling that he had not done more for the company in its time of obvious need would “niggle away at him”. This statement says lot about the motivation of the man.
Norris understands the importance of people in the equation of success. He identifies people as his first priority. Before he can overcome the difficulties facing Air New Zealand he must win the commitment of Air New Zealand’s people. That’s good starting point. This issue of Management focuses on the importance of people. The need to attract talented individuals, to recognise the emerging spiritual dimension of the workplace and to understand that knowledge is contained within people, not the technology that drives the processes we develop in organisations today. Management is people magazine. I am sure there will be something in this issue for you.

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