Southwest Airlines Case Study

Length: 4 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Transportation Type: Case Study Paper: #99964912 Related Topics: Spirit Airlines, Delta Airlines, Airline, Airtran
Excerpt from Case Study :

Southwest Airlines

Effectiveness of Southwest Leadership

Southwest management has defined a clear and simple business purpose. The management has also chosen the right business model that supports the business purpose. The management consistently demonstrates the core values and behaviors derived from the key business purpose (Emerald, 2005). The quality of the airline customer service is synonymous with warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit. This has kept the staff morale high. The leadership has opted not to do their business the usual way by providing low fare air transportation service in 34 states in the United States of America (Emerald, 2005). This has forced its competitors into bankruptcy. The airline's decision making bodies are capable of executing the business model through perfect strategic alignment. Southwest Airlines' organization is kind of upside-down pyramid making it very much in line with the way they want to do business. The upper management is at the bottom and supports the frontline employees who are the experts.

The experts execute the day-to-day and yearly business planning and operational budgeting which is done bottom-up. This unorthodox leadership style was put in place by Herb Kelleher who was its co-founder. Under this kind of leadership style, management decisions are made by everyone in the organization not just the top executives (Roybal, 2011). Emphasis is not put on structures. Employees are instead allowed to think freely without constraints. The way Southwest Airlines do business is unique to them. Their fleet solely consists of 737 Boeing. They strictly offer economy seats. There are no in-flight meals save for peanuts and other snacks. This set them apart from their competitors. The Herb Kelleher leadership style motivates Southwest Airlines employees who are valued for their ideas, their hard work, their extra effort, and extraordinary work ethic. They feel valued, respected, and motivated to perform to even 110%. At Southwest Airlines the leadership put employees above themselves. In fact, the leadership is served last. The


At Southwest Airlines leaders listen to the concerns raised by the employees. In this way they are put their own ideas and behind and attend to the needs of their people.

The leadership cares about employees. It is alive to the employees' work related struggles, their learning styles, abilities, and talents. They let each employee know they are valuable part of the dream team (Roybal, 2011). They motivate their workers by lifting them up and encouraging them. They are slow to criticizing them and faster to complement. They appreciate the efforts of the employees (Roybal, 2011). Employees are also empowered by giving them power to make decisions on their own without interference of the top executives of the Southwest Airlines. This puts them in a position to test their potential. This makes employees feel that they are great. At Southwest Airlines, employees are given power to dream about what they want to become in life. The management then capitalizes on the potential of the employees and helps them achieve their dreams. The leadership motivates employees by giving voice to vision of their own futures.

Basis of Southwest's competitive advantage and the potential challenges to its strategy

Southwest Airlines is a leader in the United Sates domestic airline industry because of three major factors. One of the factors is how the airline manages it workforce. Employee satisfaction is the airline chief priority (Scott, 2012). Employees are given free hand in making decision without regard to structures. The airline embraced the leadership style that resembles servant leadership style where experts generate ideas which are subsequently passed up the pyramid to the chief…

Sources Used in Documents:


Emerald (2005). Culture is the Key at Southwest Airlines. Retrieved from

Roybal, K. (2011). Leadership Upside Down: Herb Kelleher Style. Retrieved from

Scott, W. (2012). 7 Business and Leadership Lessons from Southwest Airlines. Retrieved from

Southwest (2008). Doing the Right Thing. Retrieved from

Cite this Document:

"Southwest Airlines" (2013, September 16) Retrieved October 16, 2021, from

"Southwest Airlines" 16 September 2013. Web.16 October. 2021. <>

"Southwest Airlines", 16 September 2013, Accessed.16 October. 2021,

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