With 37 years of aviation experience and closing in on my 20th year in the airline industry, I spend a lot of time "flying the system." As I make my way around our vast route structure, I have the opportunity to interact with numerous Employees both in and outside of the work environment. I have spent as many as 211 nights in hotels in a single year, so I have ridden countless miles in hotel vans. Additionally, I do not live in the city of my base, so I "commute" on our aircraft multiple times each week, riding just like a Customer.
So what, you ask??? So, if you sit and listen to our Employees as they do their jobs, whether it is riding as a passenger or conversing with a Mechanic, Provisioning Agent or someone working on the ramp or maybe in an exchange of thoughts on a hotel van at 5:45 in the morning...if you just listen, an overlying theme comes out: the pride and trust that the Employees of Southwest Airlines have of and for their corporate Leaders. We tend to use words like "brilliant," "genuis," "down to earth," and "approachable." Herb and Colleen are legends in the industry and certainly within our Company, with Gary Kelly having operated quietly for years but rapidly becoming known to the world as the genius that he is.
So what, you ask??? So, if you just sit back and listen, without prompting, over and over you will hear Employees across the SWA system in every job description, saying great things about our corporate Leaders and knowing in their hearts that the leadership at the top truly is looking out for the good of the whole Company. I think that is a good thing. We don't have to put out memos telling us that Gary or Colleen did this or that "for the good of the Company;" we just know that our Leaders live for Southwest 24/7 (heck, I've even seen Gary wearing canyon blue shirts and desert tan slacks; now that's SWA 24/7!).
So, at Southwest Airlines, we as Empoyees go out and do our jobs, "worrying" about taking care of our beloved Customers instead of being concerned about our Leaders at the top (as employees at so many other companies are doing). We have our jobs to do, and our executives have theirs, and everyone at Southwest does what they are supposed to do very well and very efficiently. It is a simple thing, but Southwest is about to celebrate its 35th anniversary because of the simple things we do better than anyone else.