A few weeks ago, I celebrated my 20th anniversary at Southwest Airlines and what a ride it has been. No one would have ever convinced me twenty years ago that I would one day become the Chief Marketing Officer; simply working at Southwest Airlines and being a part of its famed Culture was a dream come true. I am one of many examples of a first-generation college graduate who this Company believed in, invested in, and provided growth opportunities. It is my responsibility, and the responsibility of all Leaders at Southwest, to ensure the same opportunities are available for our next generation of Leaders.
To do that, we must ensure that Southwest remains a successful, growing Company where opportunities are abundant. Ultimately, it is how we treat our People that determines our level of success. Herb Kelleher, Co-Founder of Southwest, once said, “Your People come first, and if you treat them right, they’ll treat the Customers right.” Profits and Shareholder returns will follow.
Southwest Airlines is a special Company and a special place to build a career. In order to remain that way, it must continue to be led by People who treat others with respect and who believe in and live out the values that are at the heart of our Company. These values we hold close are things like integrity, humility, being transparent, and always being kind.
These are the values that show we care about the People of Southwest Airlines, and these are the values our next generation of Leaders must possess. The best way for that to happen is to ensure our future Leaders see their current Leaders live out these values in how they lead Teams and live their lives. We all learn by watching others and emulating what we think makes them effective and successful. If the next generation sees today’s Leaders live out these values and succeed – for Southwest Airlines and in their own careers – they will buy in. Success begets success.
I am excited and inspired by what I see in our next generation of Leaders. They will evolve our Company and adapt to whatever future challenges lie ahead. I am confident they will live out the core values of Southwest Airlines, and so, the recipe of our success over the last 51 years will be the same that drives us forward over the next half-century.