Since Southwest Airlines is so incredibly successful, why don’t the other airlines tap into the power of their people? Patrick Lencioni, bestselling author, speaker and consultant, asked that same question of CEO Gary Kelly while spending time with their management team. Kelly paused and said, “Sadly, I think they think it is beneath them.”
Lencioni, who spoke on the topic, “Healthy Organizations Win,” delivered his presentation to a large crowd of HR professionals extraordinarily interested in the subject. In fact, because he allowed questions during his talk, he had a difficult time getting through his presentation.
During his visit with Southwest, he heard story after story of positive results from the management team. Lencioni said Southwest has, what he called, an anti-shadow. “Other companies talk about how great they are, then you look inside, and whew! It’s really bad,” he said. “Southwest is actually better on the inside than advertised on the outside,” stated Lencioni. That’s the power of people working in a positive company culture.
Regarding Kelly’s comment about the other airlines’ management practices, his consulting work has helped him to discern that people issues are considered too simplistic by top executives. It’s not as complicated as strategy, finance, operations or technology. Considered too soft, people and culture is thought to be irrelevant to the bottom line. Not according to Lencioni, who expects a rising tide of emphasis on the strategic importance of company culture, the most untapped resource with the highest impact on the bottom line.
A link to Lencioni’s consulting firm, The Table Group, and his latest book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, is here.