Leadership Series: Inspiration Behind the Barrett Hangar

Servant Leadership is a frequently used leadership philosophy and discussion point around Interstates. This type of leadership involves serving, helping, inspiring and developing others for the good of the organization and those being led. Servant Leadership is one of the key components of Interstates’ Excellence in Leadership (EIL); a yearly leader training course. Servant Leadership is serving first and leading second. It is truly about developing others. What a great way to build an enduring company!

One of our meeting areas at Interstates is named the Barrett Hangar. This area is named after Colleen Barrett, well known for her passion to serve others and her role in building one of the most successful airlines in history. Barrett, President and Corporate Secretary of Southwest Airlines until 2008, has been with Southwest since it started in 1978. She was inspired and previously worked for Southwest founder Herb Kelleher as an executive assistant at his law firm. Barrett has been consistently named and recognized as one of the most powerful American businesswomen. She is frequently recognized for her success, the success of Southwest Airlines and the reasons behind the success.

I recently watched a short video interview with Colleen Barrett where she reflected on the beliefs that were instilled in her about Servant Leadership and how they presented opportunity for her and for others she served.

Servant Leadership in a Company

Barrett states that Southwest builds their pyramid a bit different. At the top of the pyramid in terms of priority is our employees. If our employees are being served well, they will in turn treat the passengers well. When the passengers feel good about the service they are getting, they will return. If they come back enough, the shareholders at the bottom of the pyramid are satisfied.

Servant Leadership in a Leader

Servant leaders tend to doubt their leadership and their influence. This is likely because they don’t identify with the stereotypical leader. Barrett claims to be a better follower than a leader even with the successes she has earned.

Servant Leadership in a Team

The mission of the team and the overall performance in reaching the desired outcome is overwhelmingly more important than individual contributions. This should provide clarity on what the correct actions are when the team is faced with difficult situations.

To this day, Barrett loves to work side by side with her employees, motivate them and help them to solve problems. She claims Southwest’s continued success is primarily due to excellent people that want to make a positive difference for others. Her willingness to serve first and lead second is why we acknowledge Colleen Barrett as a leader worth following at Interstates.


Dave Taylor, Interstates Director of Planning and Prefab


Check out our previous Leadership Series posts:

1) Leadership Series: Inspiration Behind the Wythe Room

2) Leadership Series: Inspiration Behind the Lincoln Room

3) Leadership Series: Inspiration Behind the Marshall Room

4) Leadership Series: Inspiration Behind the Wooden Huddle

5) Leadership Series: Inspiration Behind the Franken Board Room