Year after year, Southwest Airlines makes one or more of the various “Best Places To Work” lists. In some years (e.g., 2009), they are #1—THE best place to work.
In addition to being a great place to work, Southwest has been profitable for 40 consecutive years. Unlike all its major competitors, it has never filed for bankruptcy, and like all its major competitors, it is heavily unionized.
There are a lot of reasons for Southwest’s success: strategy, focus, execution, and so on. A big part of their success is a simple leadership philosophy that founder and chairman emeritus, Herb Kelleher, recently summarized in a Fortune interview:
(From Still Crazy After All These Years, Interview by Jennifer Reingold, Fortune, 1/14/2013. The next time you hanging in the airport news-stand, pick up Fortune; it’s always worth the price.)
It is unnecessary for me to add to what Kelleher had to say. All of us would be better leaders if we took his words to heart at work, home, church, wherever.
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© Copyright 2013 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner
Your are correct Dick, Kelleher sums it up very well. It is similar to the ‘Humility’ factor as described in the book Good To Great. Leaders who make it all about themselves are not nearly effective as those who make it all about their team. I see this everyday in my work. The best companies we work with are those who ask us to find other leaders with these qualities to join them.
Thanks for your input, Rick. It doesn’t take long for employees to figure out if the leader is there for him(her)self or for the organization. Wise leaders know that if the organization prospers, they will too.
I love the attitude of Southwest employees. I think that’s a direct reflection of how they are led. They believe their job matters and they’re treated with respect, so they pass that along to their customers.
Thanks for the comment, Matt. SW is a great example of balancing employee, stockholder and customer interests for the benefit of all.