Quick Book Review – Lead with LUV – A Colleen Barrett Interview

Hi All,

If you haven’t had the chance to read Lead with LUV please take a moment to check it out.  This books captures a conversation between Southwest Airline’s President Emeritus Colleen Barrett and the legendary author Ken Blanchard.

It is a very quick read, about 2 hours in it’s entirety, and it gives you a perspective of the personalities that built Southwest Airlines and were infused into it’s culture.

If you have read this book or end up reading it let me know or write it up in the comments blow.

Also – if you haven’t picked up a Kindle Paperwhite yet please go out and buy one.  It makes reading and taking notes so much easier.  Pulling these quotes and the quick summary below only took 15 minutes when I can simply copy and paste from my notes I took on my Paperwhite which were shared to my Kindle software on my PC – pretty amazing tech.  Wish I had this when I was in school.  Plus you can read it in the full sun and the battery lasts for weeks!

OK, shameless plug over!

A few key elements to know

The book captures how Colleen and Herb used a substantially different management style when building Southwest Airlines and how that style has contributed to it’s success.  It goes into detail into many of the unique words that comprise Southwest’s value’s that you hear across the campus such Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, and Fun-LUVing Attitude.  Those may sound like buzz-words but Colleen goes into detail about the essence behind each one which was very helpful for me.

Warrior Spirit means that you have to have a fighting spirit to be successful. You want to be the best, work hard, be courageous, display a sense of urgency, persevere, and innovate. You want to be a winner. People don’t want to work for a loser. You want to win at what you set out to do.

Servant’s Heart—a passion for serving others. We want all of our Employees to follow The Golden Rule, adhere to our basic principles, treat others with respect, put others first, be egalitarian, demonstrate Proactive Customer Service, and embrace the Southwest Airlines family.

Fun-LUVing Attitude means just that: We want to enjoy our work life as much as we do our home life. We want to show each other and our valued Customers that we care about them, and we want them to feel like extended family members while they are in our presence. We have fun, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we maintain perspective, we celebrate successes, we enjoy work, and we are passionate Team players.

It also goes into detail about what love really means in the corporate context at Southwest Airlines.  It looks at the word love means through the lenses of nine attributes including patience, kindness, generosity, courtesy, humility, unselfishness, good temper, guilelessness, and sincerity.  Ken then asks Colleen to rate herself on each attribute to see where she herself stands.  She reflects on areas where she is still working to improve which is interesting to see.

A few interesting tidbits

There are a number of great stories about how Southwest Airlines employees have gone above and beyond for their Customers including this one:

Great Story #1

May 25, 2009

Mr. Gary Kelly Chairman and CEO Southwest Airlines

Dear Mr. Kelly, I am writing to express my deep thanks for the Southwest Airlines customer service I received on Sunday evening, May 17, 2009 when I suddenly learned at 4:45 PM that it appeared my father was dying. I needed to get to him as soon as possible. Three Southwest employees (and I believe Southwest’s organizational values) made the difference for me, living in Bethesda, Maryland, to get to my father in Sandusky, Ohio, one final time before he passed away at 3:25 a.m. Monday, May 18. My father was a proud World War II veteran who lived at the Ohio Veterans Home.

Time was of the essence, but nothing was available on Southwest or any other airline and it was approaching 5:15 and then 5:30 p.m. I knew that Southwest Flight 126 out of Baltimore at 7:40 p.m. was my only hope, but it was unavailable. As I packed, my husband called Southwest. The agent told him to book me on the first available flight and get to the airport. Although there were no guarantees, if I was at the airport, I would have a chance of flying standby on Flight 126, and maybe something else could be done. We reached BWI (Baltimore) Airport in record time at 6:30 p.m.

I got to the Southwest ticket counter unsure what would happen. At first the agent started to tell me that I needed to go to another counter, but then she stopped, took my driver’s license, ticketed me for standby on Flight 126, and told me to go to the gate and that they would make an announcement there. She calmly and quickly moved me along, and that helped me stay calm.

Once at the gate, the Southwest agent told me the flight was overbooked by three and that there was another person in front of me for standby, so it did not look good. She said she could not guarantee anything, but she would make an announcement at boarding time. At this third critical juncture, she made a beautiful announcement, explaining to everyone that a passenger was on standby because her father was critically ill and was not expected to make it through the night. She asked something like, if anyone had any leeway in their schedule, would they consider making a difference in this person’s life by giving up their seat for her, as Flight 126 was the only flight that could get her to her father in time. She explained that Southwest would not be able to compensate the person, but would guarantee a flight the following day, and that Southwest, along with the passenger, would deeply appreciate this act of human kindness. Her statement was simple and dignified, and my need was so clearly stated. I waited for only a few minutes, but it seemed like eternity. And then someone came forward—followed by another, and then a third person. Passengers around me seemed to have been moved by Southwest’s announcement on my behalf. Someone said it renewed their faith in people.

I know it is because of Southwest’s customer service that I made it to my dad before he died. I got to kiss him and say goodbye while he was still alive because I was on Flight 126. I have no doubt of that. At any point along the way I might have been derailed, but Southwest’s customer service stood by me each time: I am so grateful that my husband was able to reach a real Southwest agent and not a recording, and for that person’s compassionate quick thinking. I am so grateful for the kindness of the ticket agent who simply booked me calmly and moved me along, not making me go to another ticket counter and repeat my story. And I am deeply grateful for the compassion and creativity of the employee at the gate who made the announcement.

I am enclosing several cards from my father’s funeral. If you share my story with the employees on duty at BWI and on your phones on Sunday evening, May 17, the Southwest people who helped me may recognize themselves. I would like them to know they made a difference in my life and have a card from my father’s funeral as an expression of my thanks and as a reminder of the impact of their customer service. My father’s holy card, dated May 18, says it all. Southwest got me there on time on the evening of May 17. I will always be grateful for this priceless gift, and I will gladly and gratefully fly Southwest for the rest of my life, whenever I can.

Thank you. Sincerely, Mary Elizabeth Campbell Bethesda, Maryland

Blanchard, Ken; Colleen Barrett (2010-11-29). Lead with LUV: A Different Way to Create Real Success (pp. 141-142). Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.

Great Story #2 

Many of our People are deployed, so we have been active since 9/11 with all branches of the armed services. I don’t think this is bragging, but our reputation as a family-oriented Company is real. We try to stay in touch not only with our Employees who are deployed, but also with the families who are left behind. I often receive notes from our deployed Employees or their families. One of my favorite letters came from one of our Pilots when he was serving in Iraq.

We send these brave folks all kinds of goodies, including T-shirts that say, “Southwest loves you,” and munchies like peanuts and pretzels. It doesn’t cost very much, but it seems to make a real difference. This Pilot wrote and told me he opened the box of stuff we’d sent him in front of a Pilot from another airline. When the other man saw what was in the box, he said, “Your company sent that stuff to you?” Our Pilot said, “Yeah.” The other Pilot said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Our Pilot laughed and said, “No, as a matter of fact, they sent me a bunch of T-shirts; would you like one?” The other Pilot said, “Yes, I sure would.”

So—no kidding—our Pilot sent me a picture of what happened to the T-shirt he gave the other Pilot. When the other Pilot had his photo taken for a new company ID, he wore the Southwest T-shirt under his shirt. He did it to make a point that he never heard anything from his company. Our People know we care. They know that it’s genuine. We don’t do those things to get accolades; we do them because it’s the right thing to do.

Blanchard, Ken; Colleen Barrett (2010-11-29). Lead with LUV: A Different Way to Create Real Success (pp. 127-128). Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.

A few great quotes

Everyone has the potential to be a leader and have a positive influence on people they meet.  (p. 4)
The key to developing people and creating great organizations is to catch people doing things right and accentuate the positive by praising them.  (p. 8)
“Leadership is not about love—it is love. It’s loving your mission, it’s loving your customers, it’s loving your people, and it’s loving yourself enough to get out of the way so other people can be magnificent.” (p. 22)
Leadership Is About Going Somewhere— If You And Your People Don’t Know Where You Are Going, Your Leadership Doesn’t Matter (p. 26)
Treat your People right, and good things will happen. (p. 29)
Profit Is the Applause You Get For Creating A Motivating Environment For Your People And Taking Care of Your Customers  (p. 32)
Today If You Don’t Take Great Care Of Your Customers, Somebody Else Will.  (p. 40).
If You Keep Your People Well Informed And Let Them Use Their Brains, You’ll Be Amazed At How They Can Help Manage Costs (p. 53).
People Admire Your Strengths, But They Respect Your Honesty Regarding Your Vulnerability (p. 106).
Two best traits you can have to lead a fulfilling life are patience and persistence.  (p. 108).
“I expect to pass through this world but once; any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” —Stephen Grellet, 1773–1855 (p. 110)
People With Humility Don’t Think Less Of Themselves; They Just Think Of Themselves Less (p. 114)
We have choices all the time as we interact with other human beings. Good temper tames your judgmental nature and motivates you to reach out to support and encourage others. That’s where your power comes from. (p. 121)
“Nothing good happens by accident.”  (p. 125).
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”22  (p. 132).
“The true test of a Servant Leader is this: Do those around the Servant Leader become wiser, freer, more autonomous, healthier, and better able themselves to become Servant Leaders?” (p. 133).