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10 Best Companies for Leaders 2012: #5 Southwest Airlines

Procter & Gamble
#5 Southwest Airlines


Gary C. Kelly, CEO

An airline known for its low costs and high spirits, Southwest manages largely through its culture. It hires on attitude and enthusiasm and attempts to burnish this in a variety of ways, including The University for People (U4P), its corporate training facility dedicated to developing and delivering personal, professional and leadership curriculum.

The Manager-in-Training (MIT) Program is a development experience for high-potential leaders who have long-term interest and future prospects within the company. There are two program levels: MIT I and MIT II. MIT I offers learning experiences and department visits that emphasize all aspects of Southwest Airlines and its culture. Participants experience 20-plus training sessions, including interactive exercises, assignments and visits by different departments within the company. Participants learn about various aspects of Southwest Airlines to give its workforce a better understanding of the “big picture” and what Southwest Airlines, as a company, is all about. MIT II focuses on leaders at the manager level to strengthen management expectations and build key leadership skills, such as strategic thinking and coaching. Building relationships with other managers, directors and senior leaders across the company is another invaluable experience of both levels of the MIT Program.

Southwest Airlines is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Texas ranked #1 in Chief Executive’s Best/Worst States for Business 2011.

2010 Ranking
Not ranked

#6 ADP, Carlos A. Rodriguez »« #4 3M, George Buckley


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    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

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    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

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    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.