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

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Resources

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

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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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Whitney Eichinger

Communication: Communicating Culture Through Social Media

As the airline with Heart, we see amazing stories each day from Employees and Customers. We leverage our social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn to celebrate these authentic connections that take place across our large operation and, in turn, make the world feel a little smaller and sweeter!

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Bill Tierney

Communication: Communicating Through Storytelling

I recently read an article showcasing some of the most influential speakers of our time. Each has their individual style, but what caught my attention most is what they have in common—their messages are almost always anchored in a story. Not just any story.

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Tammy Romo

Communication: Communicating Difficult Business Decisions

I’ve always appreciated this quote, but it wasn’t until I moved into Leadership roles at Southwest that I realized the gravity of its truth. Conveying information—even very important information—is nothing more than an exercise in speech if the intended audience either does not understand or, more significantly, does not care.

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Nan Barry

Nurturing Culture: As a Coheart

One of the most endearing qualities (among many!) that I’ve admired about Colleen is the seamless connection she made between the families we serve as our Customers and the families we serve as our Employees. It really is that simple. In her words, “Our approach to Customer Service was going to be the same internally as it was externally, and I think that’s why we’ve been so successful in terms of getting people to really understand the mission of Southwest Airlines.”

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Articles

Insider

Media

Videos

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

Southwest

CCBI Virtual Roundtable | Leading the Southwest Way

Southwest

CCBI Virtual Roundtable | Lessons in Customer Service

Southwest

CCBI Virtual Roundtable | A People-first Culture

Southwest

Podcasts

Library

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, CEO Bob Jordan, President & Chief Operating Officer 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 swathestore.com.
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 swathestore.com 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
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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

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Megan Lee

Director Culture and Employee Engagement

Dec 2023 Recommended Resource

Move Fast & Fix Things

The Trusted Leader's Guide to Solving Hard Problems by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss

<span class="recommended-by">Recommended by</span><br>Whitney Eichinger

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Whitney Eichinger

SVP & Chief Communications Officer

Nov 2023 Rec Resource

Founder's Mentality

Chris Zook and James Allen (Bain & Company)

<span class="recommended-by">Recommended by</span><br>Bill Tierney

Recommended by
Bill Tierney

VP Customer Experience & Digital (CXD)

<span class="recommended-by">Recommended by</span><br>Tammy Romo

Recommended by
Tammy Romo

EVP &CFO and 32-year Southwest Employee

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