The numbers of people Claire Mann serves in her work are staggering in their scale. But this week, Claire discusses with us how she focuses on the individual— both when it comes to how she can improve herself and how she can serve each person who rides the public transportation systems she’s helped lead and reinvent.
Humility, Humanity, and Win-Win (ft. Claire Mann) –How seeing the weaknesses in yourself and the strengths in others makes you a better leader
“People don’t expect you to be perfect, I mean not just as individuals, but as businesses. I don’t think anyone expects my railway to be on time every single day, but when it’s not, all they ask for is good information, support, compassion, and empathy.”
Claire Mann started her career as a customer services assistant on Heathrow Express, the high-speed line from London to Heathrow Airport, where she became a train driver, then moved through a series of roles in a largely male-dominated rail industry. She eventually made her way into the C-suite as an operations and safety director before entering the distinct world of the London bus network, helping ensure that 11,000 buses and 2.1 million passengers reached their destinations every day. In 2020, she became CEO of South Western Railway, covering long-distance and commuter routes into London with over 200 million journeys per year.
Follow Claire: LinkedIn
CORE TOPICS + DETAILS:
[7:01] – Getting the Best From People
Claire’s equation for inspiring optimal performance
Claire is a believer in clear direction and honest feedback, combined with the support to do what people need to do in their given roles. She makes a point to speak to every member of a team she meets with— not to put on a show, but because she believes that to get the best from people, you need to talk to and listen to those people.
[9:25] – Turning Over the Pyramid
Start from the Bottom-Up
Without the people on the frontline of your organization, you would have no organization— especially during the COVID era. Forget pyramids of hierarchy and focus on supporting, respecting, and responding to the needs of your frontline people and watch how your organization is transformed for the better.
[19:26] – Start with the Right People
The customers don’t care about process, just result
The best commute is the most forgettable one. Do people like Claire feel disheartened by this? Of course not— they hire the best people and empower them with the best resources to give customers exactly what they’re looking for. After all, customers don’t care about the heroic lengths you’ve gone to serve them— only that your product is what they expect and hope it to be.
[24:22] – Maintaining Lessons Learned in COVID
How to avoid falling back into old habits
While COVID has been a devastating tragedy for lives, families, and economies worldwide, it did force organizations to transform the way they meet and interact for the better. Now the key is to avoid slipping into the old ways of unnecessary meetings and rigid work structures.
[33:47] – Stop Looking for Superhumans
Don’t create roles that only a superhero could take on
Claire emphasizes the importance of avoiding work roles and job listings that would require someone with otherworldly talent and capability to execute. If you’re looking for a superhero to fill a role, you’d probably be better off splitting that role’s responsibilities among multiple parties.
- [1:52] South Western Railway