The Best Leaders Leave a Legacy


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The headlines yesterday were about Steve Jobs, Apple’s leader and visionary, stepping down to take a medical leave. People are worried about what will happen to the company.

The same thing happened with Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher. Everyone worried what would happen to the company when the co-founder and chairman stepped down. Looking back we can see that the answer was simple: nothing. Proof of that came recently when the US experienced the worst economy in years, which negatively affected the airline industry. Yet, Southwest fared well – and Kelleher wasn’t there. The reason was also simple: The new people in charge kept doing what they have always been doing – what Kelleher started and what everyone continued to do after he left.

Basically, Kelleher promised two things. First, he promised a simple value proposition to his customers in the form of inexpensive flights and a bag of peanuts. What the customers (passengers) received was that plus great service. It was fun to fly on Southwest. Second, he took pride in taking great care of his employees, believing that if you take care of the employees, they will take care of the customers. This worked and continues to do so.

There is no doubt that Steve Jobs is an amazing man who has led Apple to develop products that have changed the world. His departure will hopefully be temporary. Yet, if it is permanent, he has a great team supporting him and the company. They know what to do. His legacy will live on.

On a personal note, Mr. Jobs, I wish you health and a speedy recovery. Take care of yourself and your family. The company will take of itself. You made sure of that.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Shep Hyken
Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a customer service speaker and expert, Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is a hall of fame speaker (National Speakers Association) and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author.


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