Assignment 4: Leadership Style: What Do People Do When They Are Leading?
Gary Kelly, CEO and Chairmen of Southwest Airlines Company
BUS520 Leadership & Organizational Behavior
Mr. Gary C. Kelly has been the Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President of Southwest Airlines Company since July 2001. The 58 year old executive has been with the company since 1986 being hired in as controller working his way to Chief Financial Officer and the finally to the Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Kelly attended the University of Texas where he received a bachelor degree in accounting.
Southwest Airlines is a very unique company in as they have never ...view middle of the document...
Values and Ethics
Gary Kelly has shown that his values as a family man has had continuing effects on Southwest. They consider themselves as one large family and have engrained this in their culture. Honesty, loyalty, hard work and a respect for other are the values he learned from his father (Dan Reed (2004). Southwest CEO outs emphases on character. USA Today) the same pattern you see in many aspects of the Southwest family culture. Kelly has continued with the companies’ tradition of never having to lay off a single employee. He has made strategic financial moves that have paid off big keeping Southwest in the black, and employees know that he is on their side. Soon after he took on the new role of CEO, Kelly reach out to the employees and congratulated them on signing a new contract knowing that they had a very difficult time with the last CEO who struggled for almost two years trying to settle a contract. This was a huge political move that paid off big.
The actions of Mr. Kelly have shown the Southwest employees what kind of leader he is and they in turn express those great qualities on to their customers. "Being a leader is about character ... being straightforward and honest, having integrity, and treating people right," says Kelly. (Dan Reed (2004). Southwest CEO outs emphases on character. USA Today). Few companies and certainly fewer airlines still, have managed such a feeling of loyalty from their employees. (Jad Mouawad (2010). Pushing 40, Southwest Is Still Playing the Rebel. The New York Times).
Strengths and Weaknesses
While the success of Southwest has been consistent over the past forty years it would be easy to list three leadership skills that Mr. Kelly has and say that they are his strengths. Certainly he has strong people skills and is liked by his employees. He is a risk taker and a gambler and he has won big in the past few years with areas like fuel hedging and with that acquisition of ATA, giving Southwest a foot hold in the New York market and AirTran opening Atlanta and international markets. Kelly has also been a strong believer in technology bringing computerized services to Southwest Airlines back when things were still being done by paper.
It is harder still to pick out three leadership qualities that he is weakest in given Southwest’s success rate, one can only speculate that he is just weaker in these areas. Kelly has mentioned that he feels unsure of how long Southwest can keep up without any types of sacrifice, (Gimbel, B. (2005). SOUTHWEST'S NEW FLIGHT PLAN. Fortune), being unsure of your company’s future can be fatal for investors. He also seems to be slow to make major changes, keeping their boarding process in groups, this makes it hard to get a strong hold with the business customers. So in certain area he is fairly set in his ways and slow to make...