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Nightly Business Report Presents Lasting Leadership: What You Can Learn from the Top 25 Business People of our Times by Robbie Shell, Sandeep Junnarkar, Susan Warner, Jeffrey Brown, Mukul Pandya

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2. Leadership and Corporate Culture

A strong corporate culture, like charisma, is hard to define. But we know one when we see one, and nowhere is that more apparent than at Southwest Airlines. Chairman and former CEO Herb Kelleher, who founded the Dallas, Texas-based airline more than 30 years ago, injected two core values into the firm right from the beginning: a light-hearted irreverence for bureaucracy and an emphasis on teamwork. He came to company events dressed as Elvis Presley and rode into headquarters on his Harley. He encouraged employees to learn one another’s jobs and make common-sense decisions without concern for channels, and he also expected them to dress up for Halloween. “One of the things that promotes our approach is a disinterest ...

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