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

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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.

After more than 25 years at Southwest Airlines, I’ve realized, firsthand, the benefits of being well for myself and others, certainly for my family. My dear friend Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo recently spoke at an event for our People, Learning, & Development department of more than 1,000 Employees. The event focused on three themes: how we care for ourselves, our Customers, and our communities. She illustrated how to balance our desire for excellence and wellbeing as the “Red Zone,” the moments where we acknowledge the need to treat ourselves with the same kindness we extend to others. When we understand how a lack of wellbeing affects us, remarkably, we can shift an overwhelming situation into one of great fulfillment.

I remember such a time early in my Leadership career, right around when I welcomed my second child. It felt overwhelming trying to navigate the ups and downs of parenting little ones while managing my workload and supporting my Team. I have no doubt this resonates with many of you. My Leader at the time noticed my struggle, and instead of trying to instruct me through it, he pulled me aside and offered his understanding and support. Not only did this engender immense loyalty, it softened my perspective on my situation. This “others-focused” Leadership approach at Southwest Airlines began with our President Emeritus (and my precious friend and mentor) Colleen Barrett. The ability to relate to others and balance high performance with grace is a gift. It’s something I carry with me to this day.

Like Colleen, I’m also keen on connection. Whether it’s reaching out to a friend to catch up or sending a note to let someone know you care, little things make a difference. I’ll never forget how an Employee and I connected while I was a New Hire Instructor. Our interaction in class, as mundane as it might seem, left a lasting impact on him (and me). I’d call and encourage him while he completed college, and he later wrote me a letter sharing how that encouragement carried him throughout his studies. You often don’t realize how the simplest of gestures can be the most meaningful—all of which affects our wellbeing.

For almost 53 years, Southwest Airlines has achieved success by putting People first. We’ve been passionate about our Culture of caring. That includes recognizing when the person most in need of kindness is yourself!

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Elizabeth Bryant

SVP & Chief People Officer

View Thought Leaders Recommended Resources

Do you have questions for our Southwest Leaders about what it means to Lead Well? For a limited time, you will have the opportunity to submit your questions for a Southwest Thought Leader to answer in our next Virtual Fireside Chat.

Submit your questions in the box below, and be sure to keep an eye out for an email announcing the opening of registration for the Virtual Fireside Chat!

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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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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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march newsletter hero
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.

Read More
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