Raising the level of your leadership




Why Employees LUV It


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:

  • “Be there when they’re [employees] having problems, and stay out of the way when things are going well.”
  •  “Power should be reserved for weightlifting and boats…leadership really involves responsibility.”
  •  “…if you regard being a CEO as important because it’s a powerful position, you’re always going to regret that at some point you have to step down.”

 (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.

[If this post was interesting and significant to you, please forward it to a friend.]

© Copyright 2013 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company

4 responses to “Why Employees LUV It”

  1. 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.

    • Dick Wells says:

      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.

  2. Matt Austin says:

    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.

    • Dick Wells says:

      Thanks for the comment, Matt. SW is a great example of balancing employee, stockholder and customer interests for the benefit of all.

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