Motivational Quotes from Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines

Herb Kelleher Quotes

Today I board a Southwest Airlines flight knowing that there’s a hole in the center of the heart-shaped corporate icon. Cofounder of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, just passed away at the age of 87.

He was a legend not only in the airline business, but in any type of business. He was a unique mix of innovation, motivation, and vision.

Here are a few of his quotes on strategy, customer service, culture, and leadership. So many of these quotes I have used whether on stage in a presentation or in a boardroom.

Rest in peace, Mr. Kelleher.


Kelleher Quotes to Inspire Your Strategy


“We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.” -Herb Kelleher


“Just because you don’t announce your plan doesn’t mean you don’t have one.” -Herb Kelleher


“A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear.” -Herb Kelleher


“We don’t apply labels to things because they prevent you from thinking expansively.” -Herb Kelleher


“When an issue comes up, we don’t say we’re going to study it for two and a half years. We just say, ‘Southwest Airlines doesn’t do that. Maybe somebody else does, but we don’t.’” -Herb Kelleher


“Leading an organization is as much about soul as it is about systems. Effective leadership finds its source in understanding.” – Herb Kelleher


“Treat your employees like customers.” – Herb Kelleher

“I forgive all personal weaknesses except egomania and pretension.” -Herb Kelleher


“Think small and act small, and we’ll get bigger. Think big and act big, and we’ll get smaller.” – Herb Kelleher


“Treat your people well and they’ll treat you well.” – Herb Kelleher


“Our checks that go to our people say, “From our customers,” because we want to remind ourselves that it’s not some addition to the general office that produces that check; it’s our customers.” -Herb Kelleher


“You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.” – Herb Kelleher


“If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it.” – Herb Kelleher


“If you’re crazy enough to do what you love for a living, then you’re bound to create a life that matters.” – Herb Kelleher


“Every time you talk jargon you find that people assume that they have the same thing in mind when they really don’t.” -Herb Kelleher


“Power should be reserved for weightlifting and boats, and leadership really involves responsibility.” -Herb Kelleher


“Keep costs low and spirits high, and the people of Southwest Airlines will keep LUV in the air.” -Herb Kelleher


“You can’t have a midlife crisis in the airline business because every day is a crisis.” -Herb Kelleher


“We’re in the service business, and it’s incidental that we fly airplanes.” -Herb Kelleher


“The business of business is people.” -Herb Kelleher









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