Monday Motivation: Honoring Herb Kelleher’s Maverick People First Leadership

Monday Motivation: Honoring Herb Kelleher’s Maverick People First Leadership

STOUT Inspiration + Action To Accelerate Your Week

Find inspiration in the late Herb Kelleher’s heart-felt leadership and put our Stout Action Plan to work to make your own purpose take flight.


Herb Kelleher co-founder, legal counsel, president and beloved CEO of Southwest Airlines, fought its many courtroom battles as he helped launch a disruptive business model of stellar service combined with low, low fares that went on to become the greatest success story in the history of commercial aviation.

Repeatedly voted the best CEO in the airline industry and honored by Fortune magazine as “perhaps the best CEO in America”, Kelleher fostered a hard-to-replicate culture that businesses around the globe try to emulate.

Crediting his “very ethical and democratic” mother as his primary influence, Kelleher created an employee-centered culture focused on making Southwest a fun and rewarding workplace for all -regardless of company position- and it was one that also produced the highest return to shareholders of any company in the S&P 500.

Herb was a pioneer, fierce competitor and innovator- but will be remembered most for what has defined Southwest as a company…heart.

Your people come first, and if you treat them right, they’ll treat the customers right.
– Herb Kelleher



Herb Kelleher’s own words are a great start to putting heart behind your action

Be Yourself
“We’ve never thought that you should have to come to work and assume a mask…We give people license to be themselves.”
> Look inside to find yourself.

Cultivate Culture
“It is a culture that recognizes the value of the individual, which encourages an entrepreneurial spirit, which helps people to find the career that makes them happy, and which encourages people to have fun at work. These are the very reasons for our success.”
> Assess your culture and cultivate change.

Champion Your Cause
“If people are really devoted to their company as a cause, a crusade, it leads to higher job satisfaction, greater innovation, and higher productivity.”
> Champion your cause and pursue you purpose

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