Changing The Way The Game Is Played: Hire Attitudes- Develop Their Skills
By Nicole Jue from i4cp | June 4, 2012
Howard Putnam, the former CEO of Southwest Airlines, discussed how the unique leadership and hiring practices of Southwest contributed to the success of the organization in a presentation to the 2012 CLO Symposium Conference. The following is a short summary of his presentation, Changing the Way the Game Is Played: Hire Attitudes - Develop Their Skills:
Howard started by explaining that the success of an organization starts with a vision. First, you must be able to answer the question, “what business are we in?” and then you need a culture to support your business and vision.
He told the audience that Southwest Airline's mission is to “provide safe and comfortable air transportation in commuter and short-haul markets, from close-in airports, at prices competitive with automobiles and buses, and to involve customers and employees in the product and the process, making the airline a fun, profitable and quality experience.” Howard attributes a lot of the organizations success to continuing focus on the vision put in place at the very beginning.
After honing in on the vision, Howard continued, you must find the talent to drive the organization. The qualities that Southwest hires for are unique in that they search for the best personality to fit the position, rather than simply looking for the most skilled candidate. Howard explained that you can always teach a person certain skills, but you can't teach personality. This hiring philosophy has contributed greatly to the satisfaction of Southwest's customers. The organizations employees are enthusiastic and genuinely happy to be a part of the company, creating a level of job satisfaction that bolsters their work ethic. Howard mentioned that attitude, cheerfulness, optimism and team spirit were a few of the characteristics Southwest looks for in potential candidates.
As the presentation wound down, Howard shared that he had recently been asked what characteristics he thinks comprise a great leader. He spent some time writing these down and was nice enough to share his thoughts with us. Howard said that a great leader must be honest, accountable and responsible. With these qualities, the leader is then able to create trust, passion, inspiration and authenticity. This focus on strong core leadership characteristics and on positive attitude in the hiring process are market-proven strategies for Southwest and hallmark practices among high-performance organizations.
Click here to see Howard's presentation.