Cheep and Cheerful – The Southwest Airlines Way

I read a Facebook post today from my friend Jamey Ice, a member of the band Green River Ordinance (and if you haven’t heard of them… you need to get to iTunes and pick up their new album Out of My Hands and follow them on Twitter @GRO.  Anyway… he was headed on an American Airlines flight to FL and was lamenting that it wasn’t Southwest Airlines.

So… what does Southwest do that others don’t?

I was fortunate enough to attend the Center for Services Leadership’s annual Compete through Service Symposium a few weeks ago and Dave Ridley, the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Revenue Management, at Southwest Airlines, was a featured speaker.

Dave summed up the motto of Southwest Airlines in three words… “cheap and cheerful”. It’s really all you need to know… (well, assuming safety is a given!).  But in my vast experience traveling on Southwest, their motto is consistent with their actions (they walk the talk).  Have you ever encountered a Southwest team member who was rude or grumpy?  I haven’t.

Dave also talked about the company culture… all employees have a sphere of influence. They are all empowered to deliver superior service.   But Dave…” how do you get employees who do this? ”

Three ways… Southwest:

  1. Hire great people
  2. Put people first
  3. Lead them well and no BS  (meaning “Big Shot” leadership)

He also emphasized three things that all Southwest employees need to have:

  • A warrior spirit (being innovative and creative)
  • A servant’s heart
  • A fun-loving attitude

I think Southwest has it right… and I try to embody these last 3 principals in my everyday life.  Do you?  I think any company who does has a huge wing up on their competition!