Friday, June 22, 2007

Servant Leadership

Hello friends –

I term we often hear tossed around to describe people-centric leadership is, “Servant Leadership.” Unfortunately it is a lot easier to say than to truly put people first, to serve rather than to be served. But be sure there are some terrific leaders who have built strong, enduring organizations by putting others first. This is the heart of the business of leaders.

One such leader is Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher. I had an opportunity to spend some time with him recently and was amazed how passionate he is about this concept. He not only talked the talk, he walked the walk. Just ask anyone who has flown on, or worked for, Southwest Airlines recently. They’ll talk about the people. When I heard some of the comments below from Herb, I thought of many of the great leaders with whom I have served in the Army. Like Mr. Kelleher, they have gained personal success through the counter-intuitive principle of putting others first.

- “Focus your training on leadership and customer service.”
- “Burn the customer service manuals. Instead, empower customer service people to make decisions.”
- “Recognize every event in the lives of employees.”
- “Get big by thinking and acting small.”
- “Executives are the supply corps for the warriors.” (My favorite!)

Mr. Kelleher has built an airline through a simple concept: Take care of your people; they will take care of the customer; happy customers will return value to the shareholders. It is no different in the military. When we take care of the troops, they accomplish the mission. Leaders succeed when those they lead are successful. That is servant leadership. And servant leadership…is Leader Business.

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