As you may know, Tuesday, July 15 marks a milestone as Colleen Barrett steps down as Southwest Airlines' President--thankfully, she will remain an Employee. To celebrate Colleen's contributions to Southwest, we are devoting the next few days to Colleen, and we will feature some of our Blog Team's experiences with this LUVly lady.
I always wanted to work for a company “like Southwest”. I never dreamed that one day I would be sitting in Colleen Barrett’s office as an Employee. Working for Colleen was definitely a dream come true for me, as a career “HR” person. Arguably, there is no one in American business with more direct influence on creating great places to work than Colleen.
So when circumstances led me to begin working directly for this legend of People practices, I have to admit I was a tad nervous. Could I live up to the high standard for following The Golden Rule? I anticipated my first one-on-one meeting with her like the first day of school. I had my typed list of items and was prepared to discuss each one with vigor. She welcomed me with a hug and settled into her chair. I launched crisply into my list as she puffed on her trademark Kool. She seemed distracted, and I worried that I was doing something wrong. I noticed that she had dumped her ashtray into the trash can, but I hadn’t noticed the plume of smoke rising from the can. With a swift pour from her heart-shaped coffee mug, she extinguished the source of distraction, took a sip of the remaining coffee, and was back to the business of teaching me the first one of many lessons about LUVing your Employees.
Over the past three and a half years, I have soaked up as much as I can from Colleen. She is so humble that I never felt like a subordinate … I guess that was one of the greatest lessons of all. I am thrilled that she will remain close and even more thrilled that I can call her my friend.