Herb Kelleher, the founder and Chairman Emeritus of Southwest Airlines, passed away today (January 3rd, 2019). Herb was among the greatest examples of servant-leadership in business. The man was a legend, yet remained humble, always shining the spotlight on his team. He lived life to it’s fullest and left a path for others to follow in his footsteps- however giant they may be. He inspired an entire generation of servant-leaders and left the world better than he found it.
I will always be grateful for the examples he set and the evidence he delivered: proof positive that servant-leadership makes great companies and even better people.
Thank you, Herb. We will miss you, but appreciate that even you needed rest.
For more on Herb:
- Steve Jobs vs. Herb Kelleher – Hero Worship vs. Servant-leadership
- Southwest Airlines 2011 Results Reflect Benefits of Servant Leadership
Herb Kelleher Quotes
As a small tribute to the great servant-leader, here are some of our favorite Herb Kelleher quotes:
“If you’re crazy enough to do what you love for a living, then you’re bound to create a life that matters.”
“Leading an organization is as much about soul as it is about systems. Effective leadership finds its source in understanding.”
“A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear.”
“You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.”
“Power should be reserved for weightlifting and boats, and leadership really involves responsibility.”
“If the employees come first, then they’re happy…. A motivated employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders. It’s not one of the enduring great mysteries of all time, it is just the way it works.”
“The core of our success. That’s the most difficult thing for a competitor to imitate. They can buy all the physical things. The things you can’t buy are dedication, devotion, loyalty—the feeling that you are participating in a crusade.”
“You can’t really be disciplined in what you do unless you are humble and open-minded.”
“If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control.”
“The essential difference in service is not machines or ‘things.’ The essential difference is minds, hearts, spirits, and souls”
Image Credit: Original image from Southwest.com, modified to include his quote.