Essays on Effective Leadership: Developing Leaders at Southwest Airlines Case Study

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The paper "Effective Leadership: Developing Leaders at Southwest Airlines" is an outstanding example of a management case study.   Southwest Airlines is the largest low-cost carrier that has more than 46,000 employees and operates across 40 states (Lauer, 2010). It known for its culture of developing leaders, developing relationships based on shared knowledge, goals, and mutual respect and incorporating fun into all its activities including learning and camping activities (Lauer, 2010). Corporate learning is one of the major focus points of the company’ s management that is aimed at taking employees out of their element in order to maximize their potential.

For example, the company subjects employees to challenging environments that push them out of their comfort zone. Focus on employees’ personal and professional development is also another critical aspect of its organizational culture (Belobaba, Odoni, & Barnhart, 2015). The management ensures that highly qualified employees are hired and low-performing employees are relieved of their duties. Employee development takes many forms that include coaching, mentoring and training. Development of leaders As mentioned earlier, the development of leaders and employees is one of the most important aspects of the corporation’ s organizational culture.

The company’ s leadership development initiatives and programs have four main objectives. They include developing people, thinking strategically, building effective and efficient teams, and being on the frontline with regard to implementing organizational change (Lauer, 2010). Leadership development is one of the core precepts of the business that is mainly achieved through training. For example, in 2011, the company allowed employees to spend more than 59,000 hours in training programs and initiatives (Belobaba et al. , 2015). The company’ s commitment to leadership development is evident from the creation of an initiative referred to as leadership Southwest Style (LSS).

This is a learning program that lasts for one month and that trains the company’ s supervisors with the skills necessary for them to become great leaders. Other leadership development programs include the Leadership Summit, MIT Program, and Next-Level leadership. Next-Level Leadership is a training program that aims to equip managers with the necessary knowledge and skills required for effective leadership (Belobaba et al. , 2015). The company makes these training programs efficacious by incorporating speeches and talks from guest professors and renowned leaders who possess great expertise in the field of leadership development.

The Leadership Summit allows the company’ s leaders to interact with top management and discuss topics that range from organizational performance to their roles in developing key leadership expectations (Lauer, 2010). Safety and security training, as well as outreach, are one of the components of leadership development through training at Southwest Airlines. It is the company’ s responsibility to maintain and improve the security and safety of its employees as well as its customers. This goal is achieved through communication campaigns, extensive training, and education all aimed at promoting a culture that values safety (Belobaba et al. , 2015).

Training on safety and security is offered to all new employees. In addition, t that training, they receive job-specific training on aspects such as in-flight, provisioning, ground operations, flight operations, and dispatch in order to enhance safety and security in the company. The Safety & Security Department is keen on sensitizing employees regarding the importance of observing security protocols at work. The creation of the employee outreach campaign promoted the company’ s objective of developing a culture that makes safety and security priorities.

Employees receive training from the Department through internal publications, assessments and evaluations, annual conferences, and symposiums that cover different safety and security issues (Lauer, 2010).


Belobaba, P., Odoni, A., & Barnhart, C. (2015). The Global Airline Industry. New York, NY:

John Wiley & Sons.

Holstein, W. J. (2008). At Southwest, the Culture Drives Success. Retrieved from

Lauer, C. (2010). Southwest Airlines. New York, NY: ABC-CLIO.

O’Reilly, C. A., & Pfeffer, J. (2000). Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve

Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People. New York, NY: Harvard Business Press.

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