The Southwest Airlines Way : Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve High Performance

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9780071396837: The Southwest Airlines Way : Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve High Performance

Management lessons from the world's most profitable airline

"If you want to understand how one organization can change the competitive rules of the game for an entire industry, read this book."--James L. Heskett, Baker Foundation Professor, Harvard Business School and Coauthor of The Value-Profit Chain

Fortune magazine calls Southwest Airlines "the most successful airline in history." With a market value greater than the rest of the U.S. airline industry combined, Southwest Airlines is an amazing company with amazing management practices. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with frontline Southwest employees, managers, and senior executives­­The Southwest Airlines Way explains how Southwest's relationship-based performance principles can be adopted by managers in any industry, with dramatic results.

Full of frontline tales of Southwest's innovative management style, this compelling book explains how Southwest's relentless focus on high-performance relationships and its people-management practices have been the key to its unparalleled success in the airline industry. It reveals how any organization willing to invest the time and effort can learn from Southwest's management style by creating shared goals, shared knowledge, and mutual respect among management, employees, and suppliers. This is the secret of how Southwest consistently outperforms its competitors in the high-pressure, timesensitive airline industry.

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From the Back Cover:

"The Southwest Airlines Way is by far the most comprehensive and insightful analysis of the success of this remarkable company. The book has scores of suggestions useful to managers in any industry on how to face competitive challenges."--Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University and Author of The Human Equation

"Through extensive research Jody Hoffer Gittell gets to the bottom of what has sustained Southwest Airline's positive employee relations and high performance through good and bad times. Shareholders, employees, and customers would all benefit if companies would learn from this rich story and adapt the lessons to their particular settings."--Thomas A. Kochan, Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management, MIT Global Airline Industry Program

In an industry that regularly loses billions of dollars, Southwest Airlines has an unbroken string of 31 consecutive years of profitability. How do they do it? In The Southwest Airlines Way, you'll learn the key to Southwest's success--high performance relationships based on shared goals, shared knowledge, and mutual respect among all levels of management, employees, and suppliers.

This in-depth profile, based on eight years of field research on the airline industry, reveals 10 practices that Southwest Airlines uses to build high performance relationships, and how they can be implemented in any organization--with dramatic results. You'll learn how to implement Southwest-style management practices while learning from the successes and failures of American, United, Continental, and other airlines as they have struggled to adopt Southwest's practices.

Why is Southwest Airlines valued higher than all other major U.S. passenger air carriers combined?

How, in the wake of September 11, could Southwest keep all of its employees working and continue its unblemished record of growth and profitability as other airlines laid off thousands, begged Congress for money, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection?

Can the now-legendary "Southwest effect" be applied successfully in other industries?

In The Southwest Airlines Way, you'll find the answers to these questions and more.

The Southwest Airlines Way explores the policies, strategies, and techniques that have led to Southwest's success and explains how these proven methods can be put to work in any organization. It explains how American, Continental, United, and other airlines have tried to imitate Southwest--and why they have failed. Based on Professor Jody Hoffer Gittell's eight years of field research in the airline industry, this book unveils the secret ingredient--high performance relationships--that has enabled Southwest to sustain a steady 10 to 15 percent rate of growth throughout its 32-year history while turning a profit in every year but its first.

Gittell explains why Southwest relies so heavily on high performance relationships--shared goals, shared knowledge, and mutual respect among employees, managers, unions, and suppliers. She analyzes how the company uses high performance relationships to create the enormous competitive advantage Southwest has in motivation, teamwork, and coordination among employees.

You'll also learn how to foster powerful cooperative relationships among your company's employees. Gittell reveals 10 practices that Southwest employs to create and nurture high performance relationships. You'll learn how to:

  • Lead with credibility and caring
  • Invest in frontline leaders
  • Hire and train for relational competence
  • Use conflicts to build relationships
  • Make unions your partners, not your adversaries
  • Build relationships with your suppliers
  • And more

For managers looking to increase productivity and profitability, encourage teamwork among employees, and build a fiercely loyal, dedicated, and innovative workforce, here is one way to go--The Southwest Airlines Way.

About the Author:

JODY HOFFER GITTELL IS A PROFESSOR OF MANAGEMENT at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She serves as Executive Director of the Relational Coordination Research Collaborative, bringing practitioners and researchers together to transform organizational relationships for high performance. She also serves as Chief Scientific Officer of Relational Coordination Analytics Inc., offering measurement, evaluation and visualization of relational coordination networks to organizations seeking to improve their performance. To learn more visit rcrc.brandeis.edu and rcanalytic.com.

Dr. Gittell's research explores how coordination by front-line workers contributes to quality and efficiency outcomes in service settings. She has developed a theory of relational coordination, proposing that work is most effectively coordinated through relationships of shared goals, shared knowledge and mutual respect, and demonstrating how organizations can support relational coordination through the design of their work systems.

Gittell received her PhD from the MIT Sloan School of Management, her MA from The New School and her BA from Reed College, and taught for six years at the Harvard Business School before joining the faculty of Brandeis University. She has served as Chair of the Board for Families First Health and Support Center, as MBA Program Director at the Brandeis Heller School, and as Acting Director of the MIT Leadership Center. She currently serves on the boards of Reed College, the Labor and Employment Relations Association and the Endowment for Health. She lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with her husband Ross and their daughters Rose and Grace.

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