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Leaders who wear a name badge, pick up trash and talk plainly send an important message

Problem:  New Yorkers agree that their subway system is a mess.

Solution:  Andy Byford, a world-renowned Mr. Fixit for troubled subways.

On October 21, 60 Minutes profiled Byford who is the new president of transit for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority – the MTA.  He has a big problem to fix.  Millions of subway users agree that the trains are packed, breakdowns and delays are routine, and the system has gone off the rails.

Byford, however, seems undaunted, and is committed to full transparency of his efforts. He proudly wears his nametag for all disgruntled commuters to see, he expects to be held accountable. He also just wants the trains to run on time.

Byford regularly rides the transit and introduces himself with a simple, “ I’m Andy Byford, I’m the president of transit.”  With his friendly neighbor approach, he’s that rare executive who does his own market research, routinely popping up unannounced to query customers on the quality, or lack thereof, of the MTA service.

He also picks up trash along the way.  He can’t stand to see a discarded coffee cup or food wrapper littering the stairs, so he picks it up.

Think about it for a moment.  What if your company CEO or Business President wore their name badge for all to see and opened up the dialogue with customers about how service could be improved.  That’s commitment – putting your name behind what your company stands for – or aspires to.

When Bill Whitaker asked Andy Byford about the challenge of the task in front of him, he said, “I’ve said in the past that’s what we have to do. Not to tweak this system. That it needs way more than that. It needs to be a comprehensive, top to bottom modernization of every aspect of our operations. Why shouldn’t we be on a par with London, with Hong Kong, with Shanghai, with Singapore? This is New York, for goodness sake.”

How will he achieve it? Andy Byford: “It will not be quick. It will not be cheap. And it certainly won’t be easy. So my message to New Yorkers is, there’s no gain without a bit of pain. This will be worth it.”