Assignment 4: Leadership Style: What Do People Do When They Are Leading?

Bus 520 – Leadership and Organization Behavior

Leadership is not always used as an example in management by people. According to Schermerhorn (2012), leadership is defined as the process of influencing others and the process of helping individuals and any efforts that are collective in order to accomplish shared objectives. As a result, a manager is not needed in order to lead. The CEO of Southwest Airlines, Gary Kelly, has a specific group of values and a style of leadership that will help Southwest Airlines to stand out in the middle of any airline within the business.

A Southwest veteran, Gary Kelly is 28 years old and his career began as a controller at Southwest Airlines. Kelly meets as a Independent Director of many associations and trade corporations as well as working at Southwest Airlines. In 2004, Kelly advanced to Vice Chairman and CEO of the airlines after he previously served as Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance, as well as CFO and Executive Vice President. Gary is a Texan and he attended the University of Texas in Austin where he received a B.B.A in Accounting. Before he joined Southwest Airlines, Gary received certification as a Public Accountant in 1986 for Arthur Young and Company which is located in Dallas and as a Controller for another company named Systems Center, Inc.

The Leadership style of Gary Kelly is transformational. Transformational leadership according to Bernard Bas (1985), happens when followers’ interests are broaden and elevated which stimulates followers to reach outside the limits and beyond their interest to the benefit of others. Kelly has advised that the environment of Southwest Airlines is not ambitious or curriculum but it is a total of people’s hearts (Spirit Magazine, 2014). The airlines constantly empower and enable the employees to always go over and beyond in order to meet individual needs and this is a representation of their leader. A leader that is good must fit in with the leader and the companies’ culture however they must be separate according to the feelings of Gary Kelly. Kelly feels strongly that leaders that are good are able to compensate their employees and take care of them first. Gary Kelly believes that when communicating with employees, leaders should be able to know when to listen and when to act in response. Gary Kelly has a style that is very laid back when it comes to leadership and this is unlike many CEO’s. Employees are able to have more freedom than many organizations. The culture at Southwest Airlines aligns very well with Gary Kelly’s style of leadership. The culture at Southwest Airlines is defined as the improvement, development, and refinement of the individuality, originality, and personality of a specific people (Southwest Airlines, 2014). More than flights are offered at Southwest Airlines. Through volunteer services they are able to give back to the community while encouraging their employees to become better individuals. Having events that are fun such as deck and spirit parties and Halloween are just a few events that are included in the culture of Southwest Airlines. Gary Kelly has been with the company for 28 years and has been everything from Edna Turnblad, Count Dracula, and the mother in Hairspray (Hall, 2010). This is just a few ways Kelly and Southwest Airlines are able to keep employees motivated and make worthwhile for them to work hard for a company that they love.

The personal values of Gary Kelly were created by the old fashion brand of Southwest and his morals and honor was inspired in him by his father (Miranda, 2013). Miranda (2013) declares that the values of Kelly’s were all centered on encouraging a atmosphere at work where individuals are able to have fun and enjoy their jobs while they are performing their jobs. The main priority of Southwest Airlines is to secure and guarantee the personal safety of each customer and employee of Southwestern Airlines. Southwest Airlines believes in the Golden Rule, to treat others as they want to be treated. They believe in living a Servant’s heart, Warrior spirit, and an attitude that is Fun-Luving which is the Southwestern Airline way. To work hard, be courageous, display urgency, persevere and innovate, and encourage employees to work hard is the Warrior Spirit. Embracing the Southwestern Airlines family, follow the Golden Rule, treating individuals with respect, follow rules and principles, putting people first is having a Servant’s Heart. Last but not least in order to have an attitude that is fun luving is defined as having fun and to maintain perspective, don’t take yourself very serious, successes are celebrated, be a team player that is passionate and enjoy your work.

One honored value that is Southwestern Airlines have is to respect each employee mutually. Gary Kelly, also has values that are instrumental such as independence, honesty, being open minded, cheerful and imaginative and all of these help shape the behavior that is needed in order to achieve goals and end state. Southwestern employees are very honest and concerned about others because they are encouraged to treat others with respect and compassion and this is very possible. The proof of these values are mirrored in the mission statement of Southwestern Airlines and the mission states dedication to customer service quality that is high and delivered with warmth, pride, friendliness, and the spirit of the company (Southwestern Airlines, 2014).

Hard work, honest, humility and concern for others are just a few of Gary Kelly’s strengths and values (Miranda, 2013). Some of Gary Kelly’s greatest strengths are his personality, his compassion especially for his employees and his strong ethical behavior. Kelly has a free spirit and he is very humorous within the workplace and this affects the employees at Southwestern Airlines positively. In order for workers to work at high levels they are very relaxed and work under less pressure. All of the strengths of Gary Kelly in the corporate world are good but they can also be weaknesses as well. All of these qualities can be viewed as symbols of softness. Gary Kelly has a personality that is passive and his expectations of employees tend to put the business responsibility on the employees. This type of weakness can cause harm and damage to the company during the times of chaos and doubt in the economy.

Being able to keep an attitude that is humble is what Gary Kelly contributes to the success at Southwestern Airlines as CEO. Having a attitude that is humble enables the leaders to have a mindset that is equal to their employees. This could be interpreted as bad, however in order to connect and get respect form the individuals that are in entry level positions, it is important for management to have the ability to relate to the employees in a similar way. This makes for a understanding that is better for all individuals which allows the operation to function in a smooth and effective manner. Having a attitude that they are better than the rest of the employee’s is often the attitude that most CEO’s have. This type of attitude usually causes tension between management and employees, which stops the progress of the organization.

Gary Kelly is laid back in the workplace and he is not the type of CEO hounds employees. By having ways that are humble helps to create a environment that is better in the workplace which makes Southwestern Airline more likely to succeed in all directions of the industry.

Power and politics at Southwestern Airlines means empowerment of all employees to make decisions on the spot in order to make passengers happy (Miranda, 2013). The reviews and stories of customers have all been established facts. The mindsets of the employees to be helpful and nurturing have all been products of effective communication and working together with the organization. Relational coordination is another belief of Southwestern Airlines and this is shown through the shared relationships, the goals, knowledge and mutual respect of their employees. An excess amount of advantages regarding performances have come to the forefront because of this strategy that Southwest has used for many years. At Southwest Airlines politics and power are not a concern that is major. Because they are family oriented at Southwest this helps to fade away the forces of politics and the sense of power within the organization. Individuals drive to work together to get the job done, and not to use their position or power as a way to go beyond each other. There will never be an employee that will be penalized for using judgment that is good and using common sense when assisting customers. Southwest Airlines is known for their using of the relationships of industrial power and labor in order to achieve performance that is high. They are able to provide information that is true and relevant and this is done by putting in effect the Department of Employee Communication.

Leaders that are different all do things that are different. No two people have leadership’s styles that are the same and they don’t have the same values which help to run the organization. Gary Kelly is a leader that is awesome! His transformational, laid back style of leadership helps to contribute to him being awesome. His values and his beliefs help to make him who he is and his style of leadership allows Southwest Airlines grow continuously and they have flourished and have become the leading airline within the industry today.


“About Southwest.” – Southwest Airlines. N.P., n.d. Web.   Feb. 2014.Bass, Bernard M. (1985).   Leadership and Performance beyond Expectations.   New York: Free Press.   98-99.Hall, Cheryl.   (2010).   Southwest Airlines CEO is Defining Himself as a Leader—Without Bag Fees.   Dallas News.   Miranda, Jun.   (2013).   Leadership Secrets of Gary Kelly, Chairman CEO, Southwest Airlines.   Trade Secrets: Simple Ideas behind Great Business Success.Schermerhorn, J. R. (2012).   Organizational Behavior (12th Ed.).   Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Southwest Airlines. (2014, February). Spreading the LUV. Spirit Magazine, 12.

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