CEO Gary Kelly of Southwest Airlines on Ethical Branding

George Gau (l) and Gary Kelly (r)
George Gau (l) and Gary Kelly (r)

“It’s about having the right expectations, setting the right example and not straying ethically.”

I was wondering what to write about this week when I saw this new posting of the McCombs Leadership Forum with finance professor George Gau and Gary Kelly, Chairman, President and CEO of Southwest Airlines.

Kelly sits on the advisory council here at the McCombs School, which means despite being a very busy guy with “wake up at two a.m. in a cold sweat” responsibilities, he also devotes significant time giving counsel and support to school leaders and students. He always takes the time to say hello and sounds genuinely interested in chatting, and he offers our students the same warm respect. I hereby declare him an Official Nice Guy, which seems to be a prerequisite for CEO of Southwest Airlines.

The interview is about leadership and ethics, but that leads directly to talking about living the Southwest brand. “It’s about having the right expectations, setting the right example and not straying ethically,” he explains. Sound brand advice from someone who seems to walk the talk.

George Gau is former dean of McCombs and has launched the Leadership Forum in order to expose students to top CEOs and business leaders who are confronting the daily challenges of ethical leadership.

McCombs Leadership Forum with George Gau and Gary Kelly.

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