ARLINGTON—Leadership principles from the business world translate to ministry principles, youth ministers across Texas learned during Conclave, a Texas Baptist training event.
Colleen Barrett, president emeritus of Southwest Airlines, addressed Conclave participants at the Arlington Convention Center, providing leadership strategies she learned at the Dallas-based airline.
The No. 1 customer at Southwest Airlines is the employee, followed by the client and then the shareholder, Barrett insisted. By caring for employees’ needs first and making them the most important, they in turn provide excellent care for clients’ needs.
“If we provide them (employees) with positively outrageous service, they will treat each other that way, and that will go on to our second customer, the consumer.” Barrett said.
“I firmly believe that if you treat your customers with Golden Rule behavior, it will come back 10-fold. If you are warm and genuine in showing that you care about them, even if you don’t solve the problem, it is amazing what you will get back in return.”
Southwest created a culture where employees are empowered to go above and beyond the call of duty to care for their clients, Barrett explained.
“We truly empower our people to make the right decisions,” she said. “We empower our people in customer service and human behavior. We empower our people to do the right thing when they use their head and heart to make the right decision.”
By doing so, Southwest stands out as an airline that truly cares for its clients, she insisted. The company holds the distinction of being profitable 39 consecutive years—the only airline in the country to do so.
Barrett attributes success to the care Southwest takes in handling each person.
“Every airline can get a person from Point A to Point B,” she said. “Everyone can find a schedule and a ticket that you can afford to buy. Not everyone can match genuine, warm, caring people.”
Ministers to students can learn effective principles of customer service and employee relations from business, understanding these examples can help them provide more consistent and quality care and interactions with their students, the parents of those students, lay youth workers and other members of the churches they serve, said Jane Wilson, youth ministry specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
“Many outstanding corporations have high standards of servant leadership, and the church should lead the way with Christ as our example of the ultimate servant,” she said.
Other leaders in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors who led breakout sessions at Conclave included John Humphrey, project Manager at I Am Second and director of communications at e3 Partners; Major Ward Matthews, commander of the DFW Salvation Army; Jennifer Sampson, CEO and president of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas; and Joe Stallard, vice president of human resources and leader of the executive development program team at Sewell Automotive Companies.
“We learned much from these successful and effective leaders as they shared their expertise and leadership principles with us,” Wilson said. “They are at the top tiers of their respective industries and agencies, and each one provided information that can be applied to our leadership roles in the church.”