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Southwest Airlines “Gets It” With Our Culture

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Southwest Airlines recently learned we ranked Number Four on this year’s list of Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies!  Many people who know us understand why, but some may still wonder how do we do it?  The answer is simple: through our strong Culture.  It’s our focus on providing the best Customer Service for both our Internal Customers (Employees) and External Customers.  Southwest Airlines Culture is as unique as each of our Employees.  We are all encouraged to “Live the Southwest Way,” and our Employees exemplify this with their Warrior Spirits, Servant’s Hearts, and Fun-LUVing Attitudes, but each Employee is also encouraged to “color outside of the lines” when appropriate in doing what is right by our Customers and our Company.  What are the characteristics though of these three components of “Living the Southwest Way”? 

  • Warrior Spirit:  work hard, desire to be the best, be courageous, display a sense of urgency, preserve, and innovate.
  • Servant’s Heart:  follow The Golden Rule, put others first, demonstrate proactive Customer Service (that includes both Internal--SWA Employees--and External Customers), and embrace the SWA Family.
  • Fun-LUVing Attitude:  don’t take yourself too seriously, maintain perspective (balance), celebrate successes, enjoy your work, and be a passionate Teamplayer. 


Our Culture differs from other companies in that, in our “order of importance,” we put our Employees first, then our Customers, then our Shareholders.  Many companies feel you have to appease the customers or shareholders first, but Southwest Airlines has the magic formula that makes us an admired company:  Happy Employees=Happy Customers=Increased Business/Profits=Happy Shareholders!  We believe that, if we treat our Employees right, they will treat our Customers right, and in turn that results in increased business and profits that make everyone happy. 


Many companies may ask what is the best way to treat employees right?  They say they don’t have the money to do much, but really…how can they afford not to?  Their employees can be their best and most cost-effective source of advertising, and you don’t have to spend a fortune.  While Southwest does save and plan for Companywide celebrations, we also realize that a little can go a long way in making an Employee feel special as a person, and not just a number in work force of 35,000 Employees.  A card or hug/handshake and a sincere verbal thank-you from a Coworker or Leader can go a long way in making an Employee feel appreciated.  These actions are simple, don’t take much time to do, and don’t cost much money.    


Our Culture is all about our People, and has been for 40 years!  We appreciate this fact, and this is why we all want our Company to continue to succeed.  We don’t rest on our laurels, and we know that to continue to be an admired Company in the world, we have to continue to nurture our Southwest Airlines Culture.