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Herb Kelleher Analysis

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Business of Business is People: A Leadership Analysis of Herb Kelleher

When asked about September 11, 2001, Herb Kelleher said the following, “The first thing on my mind, quite honestly, was the well being of our crews and our passengers. Are we getting the airplanes down safely? Do we know where everyone is? Are we taking care of them?” –Herb Kelleher (Yeh).
Herb Kelleher was born in Camden, New Jersey on March 12, 1931. His father was a Campbell’s Soup Kitchen manager. Herb studied at Wesleyan, where he received his bachelor’s degree. He then earned a law degree from New York University. While working in San Antonio as a lawyer, Herb was approached by a client with the idea of creating a low-cost, no-frills airline in 1967. This low-cost strategy would be implemented by getting rid of services that were not necessary as well as using secondary airports. This would, in effect, allow them to offer very low fares (Herb Kelleher Biography-Facts).
Herb Kelleher was the CEO of Southwest Airlines from 1981 until he stepped down in 2007 (Herb Kelleher Biography-Facts). It is his leadership that has made Southwest Airlines the remarkable company that it is today.
Herb was taught at a very early age about treating people with respect. That is certainly evident in his leadership. “The business of business is people – yesterday, today, and forever.” Throughout his tenure at Southwest, Herb made that phrase a core value of the company. Whether an employee had a child, or lost a member of their family, he made an effort to say something personally (Business of Business is People). Herb greets employees by name when traveling through airports, making each one feel like a member of the Southwest family. Kelleher treats every employee with high regard. He makes no distinction between their varying roles or statuses. Herb has a very outgoing and friendly personality...

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