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
Thought Leadership Articles
Quick insights from Southwest Leaders providing relatable and practical guidance in the areas of Service, Culture, and Leadership for every business and organization.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.”
As a People-first Company, Southwest has always believed that nurturing a strong Culture is about nurturing our People. Before I started in Las Vegas in 1996 as a Customer Service Agent, I worked at a lot of companies that didn’t share that philosophy. It was almost like wearing a mask at work—you had to hold back a part of yourself to satisfy expectations and succeed at the job. From the jump, though, I could tell Southwest was different.
Culture is a term we use often at Southwest. Specifically, having a People-centric Culture helps define who we are as a Company and sets an expectation of how Leaders are to support, guide, and develop the Employees they lead. But it doesn’t just happen because we say it. We have to nurture it. As we’ve grown, we’ve had to consistently ask, “Are we still living out our Culture?” “What does it mean to our now 69,000+ Employees—what are their expectations?”
When hosting visitors at Southwest, they often remark that People smile at them in the halls. I’m always surprised that it’s something that stands out. After 22 years at Southwest, it isn’t something I think twice about. The Golden Rule is the standard for how Southwest Airlines Employees treat one another, and it’s been that way since day one. And as a Company, we’ve always endeavored to put People first.
The role of technology within an organization may not immediately bring “emotional intelligence” to mind; but in reality, navigating processes, diverse personalities, and logistical challenges all require extraordinary people skills. Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capacity to recognize, understand, and manage emotions. It requires healthy doses of self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship management.
At Southwest Airlines, we are known for putting People first. As our beloved Colleen says, “Everybody has the right to be treated with respect, and everyone should be required to treat others with respect.” Our Company Values focus on how we show up each and every day, and one of the best ways to establish a genuine rapport with each other is to lead with empathy.
As I think about promises and what they mean to me, I’m taken back to my time in the Army. In the military, a promise is a sacred bond that we honor with our lives. It’s a commitment to serve, protect, and defend, no matter the cost. And I carry that thinking with me every day.
On one hand, the word vision seems straightforward – the ability to see. Yet there is so much more to explore when we think about the broader meaning of vision. It is an articulation and visualization of what we want for the future. Vision has certainly been a source of motivation during my career at Southwest Airlines.
We want to share this special edition of LUV Mail with our CCBI friends and family to highlight just a few of the many Employees who stepped up and answered the call to help restore our operation. And what better occasion to do so than Valentine’s Day!
A company’s Purpose is formed in much the same way, either created in an instant to meet a specific, clear need or over time, very deliberately refined. No matter the path, having a Purpose distinctly shapes an organization’s identity and, ultimately, its culture—answering the questions of who we are and why.
At Southwest, we talk a lot about putting our People first. It’s our Employees who make us an industry leader. Recognizing and appreciating them is not only the right thing to do, data shows that it has an undeniable positive impact on Employee engagement.
Southwest’s Values are those of care, compassion and grace, but also of direct feedback, honesty and sometimes tough conversations. It shapes the future generation of our Company, and it shaped me! Southwest President Emeritus, Colleen Barrett, taught me tough love and to be comfortable with my sharp edges.
Throughout my time at Southwest, I’ve served in a number of roles, starting as a Ramp Agent in Detroit and working my way around our network and into my current role as our Vice President Ground Operations. All of these experiences have given me a front row seat to learn from other Leaders and then to decide what Leadership means to me personally.
As a 16-year Southwest Airlines Employee, I love meeting new people outside of work because as you run down the list of typical questions, the “where do you work” question is bound to come up. Inevitably, when I share that I work for Southwest, I’m met with excitement and usually a personal story explaining why they LOVE Southwest.
SWA U is where our New Hires start their career and where we encourage Employees to make learning and development a central component of their journey at Southwest.
At Southwest Airlines, we’ve looked forward to our 50th Anniversary for a long time. And while our 50th year looked nothing like we anticipated due to a global pandemic, throughout 2021 we have still celebrated this milestone in appropriate and cost-conscious ways with Employees, Customers, and Partners.