Leading Blog






10.22.08

Herb Kelleher: My Best Lesson in Leadership

Herb Kelleher: My Best Lesson in Leadership

HERB KELLEHER, founder and Chairman Emeritus of Southwest Airlines was asked, "What's the secret to building a great organization? How do you sustain consistent growth, profits, and service in an industry that can literally change overnight? And how do you build a culture of commitment and performance when the notion of loyalty -- on the part of customers, employees, and employers—seems like a quaint anachronism? He said, “I can answer basically in two words: be yourself.”

My best lesson in leadership came during my early days as a trial lawyer. Wanting to learn from the best, I went to see two of the most renowned litigators in San Antonio try cases. One sat there and never objected to anything, but was very gentle with witnesses and established a rapport with the jury. The other was an aggressive, thundering hell-raiser. And both seemed to win every case. That's when I realized there are many different paths, not one right path. That's true of leadership as well. People with different personalities, different approaches, different values succeed not because one set of values or practices is superior, but because their values and practices are genuine. And when you and your organization are true to yourselves—when you deliver results and a singular experience—customers can spot it from 30,000 feet.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:14 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Leaders



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