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We found a ton of great information in an article by Carmine Gallo for Forbes.com about the inspired leadership of Southwest Airlines. So, we knew we had to share it with all of you motivated people. We’ll pick apart the pieces that really stuck out to us.

In January 2013, Southwest unveiled a new corporate vision and purpose, intended to motivate an internal audience of employees to raise their game.

Southwest has touted its customer service and brand attitude before. It’s interesting to see them come out again with a renewed sense of customer-centric service. They understand that a brand works from the inside out, so inside is where they decided to start.

Our vision is to become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.

Southwest Airlines

Gallo differentiates the difference between “Vision” and “Purpose.” 

  • A vision is aspirational. It casts a dream for what you want your company to become. It should be ambitious and audacious.
  • A purpose should answer the question, “Why do we exist?”

Paychecks and the other classic examples of employee motivators aren’t necessarily effective in encouraging employees anymore. In fact, we’d argue that they only brought out the bare minimum from people. What purpose does Southwest now define for its company and employees?

 We exist to connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest relates people to people, or employees to customers. It goes beyond “making a buck.” Instead of arriving at work to earn a paycheck, why not show up to help people? It’s not a cliche if it works.

Spreading the message

How does Southwest actually tell its employees what matters? CEO Gary Kelly uses regular communications with:

  • Storytelling
  • Weekly shout outs “to employees who have gone above and beyond to show great customer service,” says Gallo.
  • Monthly features in Southwest Spirit Magazine of employees who go above and beyond.
  • Highlighting “positive behaviors through a variety of recognition programs and awards.”

Then they bring in the videos, which internally put faces to names for the employees. Customers with extraordinary examples of Southwest making a positive impact in their lives are chronicled. Employers get to see the fruits of their labor. They see a face of someone who directly benefits from their great effort. A purpose meets a vision.

As Southwest founder, Herb Kelleher, said, 

A motivated employee treats the customer well. A customer is happy so they’ll keep coming back, which pleases the shareholder. It’s just the way it works.

Is this bogus?

Do you think combining vision and purpose is just another throwaway business idea? Let us, and our thousands of readers, know your opinions with a comment below or let us know on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

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