I’m on a Southwest Airlines flight. I have a 2 1/2 hour flight. I open my Kindle, happy that I have plenty of new books to read. Then I see the message, “Your battery is running low. You have only 7% battery life left.” Drat! So now what do I do?
I reluctantly pull out the Southwest Airlines magazine that is always there in your seat pocket in case of these types of situations. Don’t get me wrong. I do like it . . . really. I just wasn’t anticipating having to read a magazine. But I open it up and proceed to flip through it.
Cool. There’s an article on an interesting guy who spent a day as a do-gooder in Manhattan and how he had lots of surprises, both good and bad, around this effort. I take his name down and put it in my notes app on my IPhone to try to find him and see if he is open to doing freelance work for me of some kind. I always am on the lookout for this creative kind of talent.
I then flip to another article. This one on the movement that is forming around what is now called the B Corp. I find that there is a guy with the last name of Gilbert, a past McKinsey consultant, a champion of this movement, a successful entrepreneur himself and now the founder of an organization called B Lab. Now I’m getting more jazzed. I love Gilbert’s passion and make yet another note, this time to see if there is anything I can do, most likely through my writings, to help build this new movement.
Next I flip back to the magazine’s front pages. My eyes land on an article on the new branding of Southwest. It’s called, appropriately for Southwest Airlines, “Straight from the Heart.” As I read, the new brand plan, according to Kevin Krone, Southwest’s CMO, was to keep the core of what everyone inside (and I would say outside) the organization loved, but now with the goal to modernize it.
Then there was one more article I read that tied all the stories together. The article was about leadership and the definition of what this article’s author felt was the best definition of a leadership. He references a leader from 2000 years ago, a Roman citizen named Quintilian (Marcus Fabius Quintiliamus to his friends)
Quintilian taught his followers, future leaders of the Roman Empire, the art of persuasion. According to the author of the article, Quintilian defined a good leader as one who speaks well. The author felt if we change the work “he” to the word “person,” you have according to the author you have the perfect definition of a leader. Here the author is asking for more definitions of what makes a great leader. I believe it would also have something to do with the word “love.”
As I was finishing up this last article, I kept thinking how well the people who put this magazine together wove each story into one amazing set of stories, all leading to the concept of love. That makes sense when you know the number one value at Southwest is love. That’s why their new twist on their old brand was still all about people and love. And more than anything else, each story dovetailed into the next to create a wonderful tapestry for their new, loving brand logo, a heart.
My final analysis? Love plays a key role in the best stories about leadership. It’s also the key to great leadership. And if you embed the word love into your daily work, not necessarily in your words but your deeds, whether you are in the boardroom, the back room or anywhere in between, you become the best kind of employee and person, the one who leads by example.
So what’s the best definition of leadership you have heard? You can share it below in the comments or with the folks at Southwest at firstname.lastname@example.org.