Essay Example on Servant Leadership in Southwest Airlines

Published: 2019-11-05
Essay Example on Servant Leadership in Southwest Airlines
Categories:  Company Management Students Servant leadership
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 721 words
7 min read

Servant leader behaviors exhibited by Herb Kelleher and Colleen Barrett when starting Southwest Airlines.

Herb Kelleher and Coleen Barrett exhibited servant leadership traits in the case. Herb instituted a flat organizational structure and abolished the traditional hierarchies. He focused on discovering employees' talents and granting them autonomy in decision-making thus creating an egalitarian spirit as he called it. This drastic change aimed at developing relationships with the workers who had forgotten what it was like to be a line employee. Servant leadership invests in relationships with juniors (Sun, 2013). Coleen, on the other hand, portrayed servant leadership traits by introducing the airlines Golden Rule stating treat others as you want to be treated. This became the motto of Southwest Airline encapsulating its overall belief in servant leadership.

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Unlike traditional leadership practices emphasize on accumulation and exercise of power by the top management, servant leadership focuses primarily on the growth of the employee's skills despite the level (Spears & Lawrence, 2002). It does not emphasize on a different in status but rather supplements the lives of individuals, builds healthier organizations and eventually creates a more just and caring workplace (Hunter et al, 2013). For this reason, most businesses in the cotemporary world are changing from autocratic forms of leadership to servant leadership. Additionally, a servant leadership involves the other workers in decision making (Northouse, 2016). This promotes the acquisition of skills by the employees and leads to the growth of the organization.

How the leaders of Southwest Airlines serve others.

Leaders in the Southwest are true to themselves and their motto while at the workplace. They have the true interests of their employees and customers at heart. In spite of the minor setbacks they encounter in dispensing their duties, they do whatever they can to satisfy the needs of their employees and customers. Barrett is the pioneer of the exemplary customer service offered by Southwest Airlines. He created a vision of serving 35,000 employees as family and to make work enjoyable. This practice was further extended to the customers living up to the promise treating others how you want to be treated as stated in their motto.

Discussion of the role played by the Golden Rule in servant leadership.

The golden rule advocates introduced by Barrett states that treat others as you like to be treated. The decree advocates for the treatment of all people in the workplace with respect and dignity. These entails giving employees the opportunity to do meaningful work and grow in the workplace to the highest attainable level (Keith, 2009). The Golden Rule contributes to servant leadership by putting the needs of others first and seeking to fulfill them (serve). The rule also advocates for caring for others to help them develop and perform as highly as possible. In so doing, the Golden Rule forms the foundation for servant leadership by being people oriented.

Outcomes of servant leadership at Southwest Airlines and the influence follower receptivity has on these outcomes.

The results of servant leadership at Southwest Airlines included increased authenticity, stewardship, accountability and value placed on the organizations customers and employees. As a result, there was a significant impact in the reception of Southwest Airlines. The positive receptivity is evidenced by the high number of return clients as a result of satisfaction by the quality of services offered from the beginning. Such customer loyalty is a sign of positive customer receptivity of the servant leadership approach used by Southwest Airlines. Therefore, the company should continue valuing its employees and customers as this will lead to the success of the airline.


Hunter, E. M., Neubert, M. J., Perry, S. J., Witt, L. A., Penney, L. M., & Weinberger, E. (2013). Servant leaders inspire servant leaders: Antecedents and outcomes for employees and the organization. The Leadership Quarterly, 24(2), 316331.Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Keith, K. (2009). Servant leaders. Leadership Excellence, 26(5), 1819. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice (7th Ed.). Thousand Oaks: CA: Sage Publications.

Sendjaya, S., & Pekerti, A. (2010). Servant leadership as an antecedent of trust in organizations. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 31(7), 643663.Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Spears, L. & Lawrence, M. (2002). Focus on leadership. New York: J. Wiley & Sons.

Sun, P. Y. T. (2013). The servant identity: Influences on the cognition and behavior of servant leaders. The Leadership Quarterly, 24(4), 544557. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

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