Scott Kirby sees himself, whether he admits it or not, as a wartime leader in the vein of Wintson Churchill. His address to employees earlier today makes this clear.
I covered his speech to employees earlier today, but wanted to dedicate a separate post to one portion that truly caught my eye.
“One of my heroes has always been Winston Churchill. One of his famous quotes during the darkest days of World War II was, ‘When you’re going through hell, keeping going.’ And while we’re going through hell right now, the character of the men and women of United Airlines has been revealed for all to see over the last couple of months. And I could not be prouder or more honored to be in the trenches with you.”
He quotes Churchill’s famous “when you’re going through hell, keeping going” line to urge everyone not to give up (Churchill likely never uttered that line). Even if the quote is a fabrication, Kirby sees himself as a wartime leader, just like Churchill. COVID-19 is referred to as the enemy and he vows that “we will overcome it”. He further vows to save jobs “once this virus is defeated, and it will be defeated.”
Kirby pledges to lead United through this battle and be in the “trenches” with each employee during this difficult time.
Churchill is an interesting choice. He’s a hero of mine too, though his rambunctious nature seems very different than the cool and collected Kirby, who I’d link more to Eisenhower or perhaps FDR than Churchill. Furthermore, Churchill was a big picture guy who left details to others while Kirby is known as a micromanager.
But the wartime undertones of Kirby’s address effectively capture how Kirby views this crisis and his role in saving United. Churchill did not let collateral damage stop his tireless effort to win the war. It seems that Kirby will not either.