The Colleen C. Barrett Institute for Cultural Excellence & Customer Service

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The Colleen C. Barrett Institute strives to provide resources that will aid individuals and organizations in their own efforts to produce excellent cultures and provide top-notch customer service. To that end, we are continually adding resources to our generous collection of Leadership, Culture, and Customer Service content.

Thought Leadership

june 24 tl article
Adam Carlisle

Leading Well: Navigating One on One Conversations

At Southwest Airlines, we pride ourselves in putting our People first—whether that’s your Fellow Employee (Coheart) sitting next to you in a meeting or the Customer you’re helping board one of our planes. In my more than 16 years working at Southwest, I’ve had many opportunities to see that People-first mentality modeled by Leaders (first established by our beloved President Emeritus, the late Colleen Barrett).

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Colleen Barrett

Special Edition: Colleen on Sustaining Strong Performance

Have you ever wondered why Southwest Airlines receives such an incredible amount of media coverage? Obviously, we have a wonderful Public Relations Department making sure our accomplishments and activities don’t go unnoticed, but the mere fact that we are a “successful airline” – two words most people think don’t go together – makes us newsworthy. It also leaves us- and everything we do open to scrutiny.

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april feature article
Chris Johnson

Leading Well: Connecting with People

From the times I engaged with Herb Kelleher (Founder of Southwest Airlines) and Colleen Barrett (CCB Institute namesake!) early in my career, I learned from them the true value of giving your People your time and attention and seeing them for who they are instead of just the positions they fill. To me, that means you have to remember your Teams are made up of unique individuals and never forget the “Golden Rule” when you have the opportunity to connect with someone.

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Elizabeth Bryant

Being Well: The ROI of Being Well for Yourself and Others

If you’ve ever flown before—hopefully with Southwest!—you’re likely familiar with the inflight safety announcement to put your oxygen mask on first before attempting to help others in an emergency. Did you know the same guidance can apply to your daily life, whether professional or personal? It’s true. To be able to meaningfully care for others or lead effectively, you must take care of yourself.

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Lori Winters

Being Well: Incorporating Wellness into Corporate Culture

Life can throw us all kinds of curve balls, and I’ve personally had times when I’ve needed a little extra help—whether grieving the loss of someone close to me or dealing with my pesky knees that tend to have so much trouble! Southwest has been there every step of the way as I’ve been shown tremendous care by my Cohearts and provided with incredible benefits that help with my wellbeing

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Megan Lee

Being Well: Prioritizing Heart and Home in 2024

When drafting a January newsletter, it’s easy to default to common “New Year” themes, such as setting goals and making resolutions. For me, however, the beginning of the year is a much-needed time to reset and reorganize–to make sure my health, my family, and my Team are ready to take on the coming year. Perhaps this rings true for you?

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Admin Awards



Virtual Roundtables

Access past and present Virtual Learning Events featuring exclusive Southwest Leader-led discussions covering topics like Inspiring Positive Culture, Leading with Empathy and Emotional Intelligence, Effective Recognition, and much more.

CCBI Virtual Roundtable | Women Leading the Way


CCBI Virtual Roundtable | Leading the Southwest Way


CCBI Virtual Roundtable | Lessons in Customer Service


CCBI Virtual Roundtable | A People-first Culture




Books on Southwest

To celebrate more than 50 years of putting People first, Southwest Airlines proudly released “Leading with Heart: Living & Working the Southwest Way.” This book represents Southwest Airlines’ guide to Leadership, business, and life, based on insights from Founder Herb Kelleher, President Emeritus Colleen Barrett, Executive Chairman and former CEO Gary Kelly, current CEO Bob Jordan, former President and COO Mike Van de Ven, and other impactful Southwest Leaders past and present.

The book highlights Living & Working the Southwest Way as a set of fun and engaging Leadership tenets that can be applied by readers everywhere, and features a special foreword by Gary Kelly. “Leading with Heart” gives readers a “behind-the-curtain” view into the beginnings of Southwest’s unique Culture and how it’s maintained by the Company’s greatest asset—its People.

Grab your copy of “Leading with Heart: Living & Working the Southwest Way” at

50 years one heart book

A History of Southwest in 50 Objects

Celebrate Southwest Airlines’ incredible first five decades with 50 Years. One Heart. A History of Southwest in 50 Objects. This visually engaging coffee-table book showcases a stunning collection of 50 unique objects, outfits, and artifacts accompanied by short stories from the Company’s inspiring history and features a special foreword by 17-year Chairman & CEO Gary Kelly. Dive in to explore how Southwest:
  • Beat the overwhelming odds to get “ready for takeoff”
  • Launched and maintained a truly Legendary Culture
  • Turned the corner from surviving to thriving
  • Kept on “winning” with Customers
  • Disrupted the industry
  • And, has consistently put its Heart into action
The inspiring lessons to be learned from the Company’s past remain incredibly relevant today. Grab your copy of 50 Years. One Heart. at and enjoy a rare look at Southwest’s rich past through the lens of iconic (and sometimes, downright eccentric) objects from the Corporate Archive.

By Ken Blanchard and Colleen Barrett (2010)

Once, there was a remarkable person who led with love. Her company succeeded where its competitors struggled. Its customers were loyal, its employees loved to work there, and it was profitable year after year, for decades. This loving leader began her career as an executive secretary, yet the company’s founder chose her to succeed him as president. When asked why, he said, “Because she knows how to love people to success.” She is Colleen Barrett, President Emeritus of Southwest Airlines®. Lead with LUV  is an extraordinary, wide-ranging conversation between Barrett and the legendary Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager. Drawing on personal experience, Barrett and Blanchard reveal why leading with love is the most powerful way to lead and how it can help you achieve truly amazing levels of performance. Discover:
  • What “love” really means in the organizational context.
  • Why leading with love is not “soft” management!
  • How to use redirection and tough love to handle inappropriate behavior or performance.
  • Why “servant leadership” is love in action, and how to make it work.
  • How to build the compelling vision and culture that sustains leadership with love
lead with luv book
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By Kevin Freiberg and Jackie Freiberg (1998)

Twenty-five years ago, Herb Kelleher reinvented air travel when he founded Southwest Airlines, where the planes are painted like killer whales, a typical company maxim is “Hire people with a sense of humor,” and in-flight meals are never served–just sixty million bags of peanuts a year. By sidestepping “reengineering,” “total quality management,” and other management philosophies and employing its own brand of business success, Kelleher’s airline has turned a profit for twenty-four consecutive years and seen its stock soar 300 percent since 1990. Today, Southwest is the safest airline in the world and ranks number one in the industry for service, on-time performance, and lowest employee turnover rate; and Fortune magazine has twice ranked Southwest one of the ten best companies to work for in America. How do they do it? With unlimited access to the people and inside documents of Southwest Airlines, authors Kevin and Jackie Freiberg share the secrets behind the greatest success story in commercial aviation. Read it and discover how to transfer the Southwest inspiration to your own business and personal life.

Southwest Leaders’ Recommended Resources

Liz Wiseman


By Liz Wiseman

Picture of <span class="recommended-by">Recommended by</span><br>Adam Carlisle

Recommended by
Adam Carlisle

Vice President Ground Operations

trust and inspire

Trust and Inspire

How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others
By Stephen M.R. Covey

Picture of <span class="recommended-by">Recommended by</span><br>Chris Johnson

Recommended by
Chris Johnson

Vice President Ground Operations

Picture of <span class="recommended-by">Recommended by</span><br>Elizabeth Bryant

Recommended by
Elizabeth Bryant

SVP & Chief People Officer

Picture of <span class="recommended-by">Recommended by</span><br>Lori Winters

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Lori Winters

Vice President Total Rewards

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