In the third episode of Gaining Altitude, GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra said connecting the world starts with how we make people feel in every one-on-one interaction, no matter where we are.
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Connecting people starts with even small interactions and being mindful of how we make others feel in the moment, General Motors Chair and CEO Mary Barra shared in a recent conversation on Delta’s Gaining Altitude series.

Barra – answering a question about how we can connect the world, asked of every “Gaining Altitude” guest who appears on the series – recalled the lesson she’s learned from a GM colleague about the importance of being conscious of how we make others feel.

“Do you make them feel valued, important? Or do you make them feel like they aren’t there?” Barra said.

At GM, Barra said she wants everyone to come to work and be their best selves. And that starts with being inclusive, starting with one-on-one interactions.

“I think it comes down to: how do you make people feel in those one-on-one interactions wherever you are in the world?” Barra said.

A GM employee works on a ventilator.
Hear from GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra on how the automaker partnered with Ventec to start mass production of ventilators in just 30 days.

What is Delta Doing?

At Delta, the philosophy of servant leadership underpins everything we do. “Connect” is one of our Four Essential Behaviors – and as Barra said, that means showing up in the moment. Delta leaders have several resources available to them to help them understand the importance of knowing the people on their teams and their strengths, opportunities and what’s important to them.

One-on-one meetings are key to sustained connection with your team.

“Make space and time to get to know each person individually. Know what they value and what motivates them,” said Helen Hampton, Delta’s Managing Director – Talent Management. “Outside of your team, as a leader, be approachable and welcoming. Make eye contact, smile and connect with those around you.”

Holding regular team meetings and creating an environment where people feel psychologically safe to express diverse thoughts and ideas is critical, Hampton said. But the onus is also on Delta leaders to encourage and solicit those ideas. It’s important to ask someone what they think; people feel valued when their thoughts and ideas are acknowledged. 

Delta leaders also can take advantage of the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI), an assessment for them and their teams to better know each other and how they approach their work through diverse thinking styles. This tool helps leaders create inclusive environments by understanding their team’s natural strengths and how each person’s skill and way of thinking is valued in creating a high-performing team.


Gaining Altitude is a new series from Delta that tackles conversations worth navigating, connecting people while building understanding across the globe. CEO Ed Bastian hosts one-on-one live conversations with insightful leaders about topics that matter.

From transformational leadership to employee-first culture and the importance of knowing your personal values, the first three episodes have featured meaningful life lessons with General Motors Chair and CEO Mary Barra, Union Square Hospitality Group CEO and Shake Shack Founder Danny Meyer, and Walker and Company Brands CEO Tristan Walker.

Catch the next episode with Jopwell CEO and co-founder Porter Braswell at 1 p.m. EDT Oct. 27. Discover all the episodes and watch live at

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