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Make lemonade from employees’ lemons

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

To make customers feel practically giddy about your company, begin by serving employees. That’s the philosophy of Colleen Barrett, president of Southwest Airlines, a company whose feel-good approach to customer service is legendary.

Barrett, who calls herself a servant leader, says she spends a whopping 85% of her time as president dealing with employee issues. She calls it “proactive customer service to our employees.” Why? A happy and motivated workforce will extend that good will to the airline’s customers.

“When we have employees who have a problem—or have employees who see a passenger having a problem— we adopt them, and we really work hard to try to make something optimistic come out of whatever the situation is, to try to make people feel good whatever the dilemma is that they’re dealing with,” she says.

—Adapted from “Southwest Airlines’ Colleen Barrett Flies High on Fuel Hedging and ‘Servant Leadership,’” Knowledge@Wharton.

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