CEO Gary Kelly and What Makes Southwest Airlines So Successful| |
CEO Gary Kelly and the employees of Southwest Airlines have fun at work. His skills as an accountant gave him a chance to change how the airline handled the accounting end of business. The corporate culture and core competencies have made Southwest Airlines a front runner in the business.| |
CEO Gary Kelly and What Makes Southwest Airlines So Successful
The main reasons for the success of Southwest Airlines are three fold, with CEO Gary Kelly, co-founder and board chairman Herbert D. Kelleher, and president Colleen Barrett, core competencies, and corporate culture as its base. This includes their company values; concern, respect, and caring for their employees and customers - to define it. (BCLC SOUTHWEST AIRLINES, 2006)
Southwest Airlines started in 1972 with three planes and has continued to strive toward meeting the needs of their customers. Southwest Airlines has built its culture and its reputation from the inside out. It values a happy workforce, and believes that its 32,000 satisfied employees will keep customers coming back. (BCLC SOUTHWEST AIRLINES, 2006) Kelly's first task at Southwest was to bring its accounting and information management systems into the computer age. At the time, all financial and technical functions were still being been done on paper, or contracted out to companies that owned computers. The only computer at Southwest was one that Kelly's predecessor had bought with his own money — and took with him when he left. "I sponsored the business case for the first mainframe computer we bought in 1987," Kelly recalls. "It wasn't an easy sell." (Reed, 2004) Kelleher had seen larger airlines waste, in his opinion, millions on new-fangled technology. He was skeptical that computers could benefit an airline where keeping costs low is a religion.
CEO Gary Kelly and What Makes Southwest Airlines So Successful Gradually, Kelly was able to convince Kelleher that technology could lead to cost-cutting, revenue-generating innovations. The corporate culture is displayed in many ways. Barrett says that "Southwest likes to think of itself as a customer service organization that happens to fly airplanes." In fact, one of the attributes that Southwest looks for in employment candidates is a "servant's heart." (BCLC SOUTHWEST AIRLINES, 2006) Southwest's hiring and training process is unique and one of the chief ways that the airline advances its corporate culture. Southwest looks for people with the right "spirit," and will hire for attitude and train for skills. For example, with flight attendant candidates, Southwest conducts group interviews to observe how the applicants interact with other people, and considers this a strong indicator of how future employees will interact with and treat customers. It's an effective mechanism to quickly spot talent that will positively add to the company's culture, reputation, and long-term success.
Another way is Southwest empowers its managers and front-line staff – those who deal daily with the customers – to act as "problem solvers," often making decisions on the spot that can save the relationship with a customer. In the airline industry, a company is only as good as its customers' last travel experience. They believe in promoting from within and providing their employees the opportunity to grow and learn from each other. (BCLC SOUTHWEST AIRLINES, 2006)
CEO Gary Kelly and...