Despite the tragic incident on Southwest Airlines’ Flight 1380 on April 17, 2018, the culture of the Best Loved Airline ensured that the accident did not tarnish its reputation. The 1380 flight crew, in an interview on CBS News, attributed their success in safely landing the plane to their shared values. Although the crew didn’t mention a specific core value, Southwest’s Servants Heart was evident throughout all the actions taken after the accident, from Captain Tammie Jo Shults walking the aisle and speaking to every passenger once the plane was safely landed to the heartfelt message from CEO Gary Kelly.
Values live in the realm of the invisible therefore many of us struggle to get the employees (and ourselves) to become the living example of our stated values. Executives are often discouraged several months after a strategy session when they realize that the work of designing a culture based on values is more difficult than anticipated.
Building a values-based culture begins with two requirements: Communication and capacity.
My admiration for Challenger brands—brands that look squarely in the eyes of the incumbents, the Goliaths of a category, and say “There is a better way and here it is”—stems from a discipline and devotion to their Purpose that isn’t swayed by fashion, trend or whim. They remain focused on the reason their founders began the company to start with.