Colleen Barrett of Southwest Airlines: Lead with LUV

Once, while sharing her thoughts on leadership, Colleen Barrett, president emeritus of Southwest Airlines (stock symbol LUV), was asked if she was worried that competitors would now be able to steal her management ideas—like writing thousands of thank you notes to employees.  She said “no” because the real magic wasn’t in knowing the concepts, it was in doing the work.

For Barrett, doing the work is a key ingredient to the success that Southwest has enjoyed in the tough airline industry over the past forty years.  It’s also one of the reasons why best-selling business author Ken Blanchard wanted to work with Barrett on a new book that captures the real-life leadership examples that have made Southwest Airlines a model of good management. Titled Lead with LUV: A Different Way to Create Real Success, it’s just out in bookstores this month.

 “She does the things I write about,” says Blanchard. “The stuff that I’ve learned and taught over the years, it’s all in there with a real person who did it.”

And one of the things that Blanchard writes about often is the importance of celebrating both people and results.

As Barrett explains, “What’s important is the fact that you’re honoring people and acknowledging that what they do makes a positive difference. In the process, you are making heroes out of them. You are letting them know that you love them for their efforts and you want everybody to celebrate their success.”

But it does require doing the work.  And at Southwest, this means that officers hand-write notes to thousands of employees each year.

As Barrett explains, “Besides being loving, we know this is meaningful to our people, because we hear from them if we miss something significant in their lives, like the high school graduation of one of their kids. We just believe in accentuating the positive and celebrating people’s successes.”

You can learn more about the ways that Southwest Airlines takes the time to stop and recognize their people by accessing the first chapter of Lead with LUV: A Different Way to Create Real Success here.

Also, don’t miss a complimentary webinar that Colleen Barrett and Ken Blanchard will be conducting on January 26.  Hosted by Cisco WebEx, click here to find out more about this free Lead with LUV event.

3 thoughts on “Colleen Barrett of Southwest Airlines: Lead with LUV

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