Business Leadership Principles Translate into the Ministry

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by Kalie Lowrie — October 28, 2013

ARLINGTON – Leadership principles from the business world can be translated to ministry principles as youth ministers across Texas learned during Leadership Tuesday at Youth Ministry Conclave. Colleen Barrett, president emeritus of Southwest Airlines, addressed attendees in an interview on Tues., Oct. 15, at the Arlington Convention Center, providing leadership strategies she learned through her time at the successful Dallas-based airline. The number one customer at Southwest Airlines is the employee, followed by the client and then the shareholder, according to Barrett. 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 shared. “I firmly believe that if you treat your customers with golden rule behavior, it will come back ten-fold,” she said. “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 has created a culture where employees are empowered to go above and beyond the call of duty to care for their clients. “We truly empower our people to make the right decisions,” Barrett continued. “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 among competitors as an airline that truly cares for their clients. The company holds the distinction of being profitable for 39 consecutive years, the only airline in the country to do so. Barrett attributes the success to the care that Southwest takes in handling each person. “Every airline can get a person from point A to point B,” Barrett said. “Everyone can find a schedule and a ticket that you can afford to buy. Not everyone can match genuine, warm, caring people.” Applying these principles to the church, youth ministers can provide genuine care to their youth, workers, and church family, which will overflow throughout their ministries. By meeting the needs of those in their ministry and truly taking time to care for each person individually, ministers will see lives changed for the Lord. Following Barrett’s interview, youth ministers were able to hear from business leaders in the profit and non-profit sectors on how they have found success. Breakout session leaders 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,” said Jane Wilson, youth ministry specialist at the BGCT. “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.”

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