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Airline Without A Pilot - Leadership Lessons/Inside Story of Delta's Success, Decline and Bankruptcy

4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0977207602
ISBN-10: 0977207609
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Airline Without  A Pilot - Leadership Lessons/Inside Story of Delta's Success, Decline and Bankruptcy
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  • Delta Air Lines: 75 Years of Airline Excellence (Images of  Aviation: Georgia)
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  • Glory Lost and Found: How Delta Climbed from Despair to Dominance in the Post-9/11 Era
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"..refreshingly candid and unrestrained." "..story of human drama and shocking corporate malfeasance." "..advice for working with consultants is particularly astute." -- Bookwire (December, 2005)

From the Publisher

Reader feedback shows that the book appeals strongly to a broad array of readers – including CEOs, executives, business students, and anyone who loves a good story.

Naturally, it appeals to aviation buffs along with all those interested in Delta.

Readers are saying the book engages them quickly and, once involved in the book, they want to continue reading. Many report reading it in one or two sittings; some report getting up in the middle of the night to finish it.

A consistent comment has been that the book will be an excellent case study for use in a graduate business school, undergraduate course or an internal company program on leadership and management.

This book makes a special holiday or other gift for a boss; fellow executive; business student; aviation buff; Delta or other airline employee or retiree; any reader who appreciates a good story in a well-written book.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Targetmark Books (Management Advisory Services) (October 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977207609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977207602
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #845,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As a current Delta Air Lines captain with many years invested with the company, I want to express my great appreciation for the book Airline Without a Pilot.

I have long maintained that the story of Delta would be a model case study for any business school wanting to demonstrate how NOT to run a business, with a particular emphasis on the difference between "management" and "leadership". The book effectively does this and is "spot on" in so many areas, particularly in the discussion of the management/employee relationship necessary in a service industry. In the military, we used to say, "Take care of your troops, and they'll take care of you."

Sadly, I have learned that all too often this adage does not transfer into the business world. This does seem strange, since everywhere that philosophy is tried, it meets with incredible success. Again, my experience with the "Harvard MBA's" (Leo Mullin, Michelle Burns, et. al.) has been that they merely learned how to transfer company assets into their pockets and then move on. The book also confirmed my negative instincts about many in the "consulting" industry, but the author's common-sense approaches truly bring a breath of fresh air into those discussions.

I was absorbed as I progressed through the book (read in 1 evening), and I could not help but keep repeating to myself, "This guy GETS IT!" The author effectively recorded and discussed so many events that have been churning in my mind (and stomach) for so long, but had thus far evaded public scrutiny. My sincere hope is that this book will effectively shine a very bright light on the real causes for Delta's demise. My only (constructive!) criticism is that I wish that the author had dealt with Mr.
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Format: Hardcover
I was an executive at Delta during the pre-bankruptcy era, so I have the benefit of inside knowledge and perspective. Nolan's book is right on target in terms of facts, observations, analysis and recommendations.

However, this is not just a story about another bankrupt airline. Instead, it really is about principal lessons of leadership as a value enhancer or destroyer. These lessons, when properly applied, lead to long-term sustainable growth for the company and secure retirements for employees. When the lessons are ignored or violated, they lead you straight to the bankruptcy court.

Although this book is a fine human interest and business story, it is very unique. The author, Nolan, not only describes how Delta got itself into trouble, but also shows them a way out. He points out that a company's long-term strategic and financial success is dependent on selection of competent business leaders who understand how to plan for the unexpected, leverage and respect the value of human capital and respond to business challenges.

Read this book!
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Format: Paperback
The book is an easy read. It is well organized and flows logically. In addition, it has slightly larger type with plenty of white space for improved readability.

The author writes in a style similar to Peter Drucker, one of my favorite business writers. He expresses valuable key management points in a succinct, easy to understand way.

The author brings his vast consulting experience together to very effectively relate to the issues that Delta faced. His perspective is how Delta's leaders - 7 CEOs and their Board - dealt with those issues and the leadership lessons we can all learn from the decisions of those leaders.

From this leadership perspective, he chronicles the company history, starting with C.E. Woolman, founder of Delta and a great leader during the company's early decades. Nolan then graphically shows how the roots and a culture that caused a growing company to flourish and thrive were damaged or abandoned by later leaders, ultimately leading Delta into bankruptcy.

The points made regarding the agenda of some management consultants are right on target. They deserve serious consideration by any CEO, Board or executive.

The book is a valuable, textbook case study in how a great company can go awry when the leaders lose focus and depart from the values and culture that made it great.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I spent 30 years at "Daddy Delta". After I retired, I went back to school, for yet another degree, and am now an RN.

While I found the book interesting, it's lack of depth is obvious. The author went to great pains to point out Ron Allen was out of his depth. Duh? This is not exactly breaking news. I was looking for a more in depth analysis of exactly how Ron came to be CEO. Is the popular story that he was Mr. Bebe's son's college roomate at Georgia Tech true? The timeline is that Bebe retired, named Garrett CEO, and Garrett named Ron Allen as president.

This event shocked the whole corporation, as it was commonly assumed that Hollis Harris would be named President. Nolan makes no attempt to address this point, nor to address the relationship between Bebe, Garrett, Allen, and Harris. One commonly held theory is that Mr. Bebe retired early only on the guarantee that Mr. Garrett would name Ron as president. In that case Mr. Garrett was screwed, as Mr. Bebe knew that he was dying of terminal cancer when he resigned. Did David Garrett know that? I would think not. As an aside point Mr. Bebe's retirement contract gave him a great deal of money ...500K per year...as a consultant, and if he did not live to the length of the consultant contract the money would be paid to his heirs. Nice deal.

Nolan also made no attempt to address the sudden resignation from the board of directors Mr. Biedenharn. A member of the Biedenharn family had served on the Board of Directors of Delta Air Lines since it's begining. The Biedenharn family owns the Ouachita, Louisana Coca Cola franchise. And their company held lot of Delta stock. Mr. Biedenharn resigned from the board in the same time frame that came to see Ron Allen named president. Mr. Nolan completely missed that point.
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