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

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september 23 TL 2

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.”

She is right. Since day one, our Company has endeavored to treat everyone we encounter as though they are Family—Employees, Customers, city officials, vendors, contractors, community partners…the list goes on. This Servant’s Heart philosophy is a core component of our Culture, as well as a foundational piece of our business success over the past 52 years. However, when it comes to our own People, Colleen has always had an extra special place in her Heart. Over two decades ago, her love was transformed into action when she established a unique Team within her office solely dedicated to caring for our Southwest Family. Originally called “Internal Customer Care” (recently renamed “Coheart Care”), this small but mighty Team exists to bridge the gap between work and home for our Employees. Strong families care for one another through good times and the most difficult moments. They help pick up the pieces when we are broken, and they are the first to cheer our achievements. That spirit is captured in this excerpt from our Coheart Care message to new Employees:

“From the very moment you become an Employee, you join our world-famous Culture of caring… At the center of Coheart Care, is the desire to support our People on behalf of [current CEO] Bob Jordan during both heartwarming and heartbreaking moments. Whether you’re expanding your family, celebrating a child graduating from high school or college, preparing for surgery, navigating grief after loss or any other circumstance that is significant to you, we want to fly alongside you. Life is often unpredictable, but the love of your Cohearts is something you can count on.”

It is a Southwest career highlight (35 years!) and personal privilege for me to be able to support this special Team in the Executive Office, whose work is so central to our Culture. Every day brings an opportunity to support our People either through embracing a new event in someone’s life or making sure we stay in touch with those whose personal journey is not yet over. While we realize that an Employee’s work and home lives can be very different, there’s also something very powerful about being thoughtfully cared for in both places. Our Coheart Care Team shares Southwest LUV by showing love.

Picture of Nan Barry

Nan Barry

VP Executive Office

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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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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