Respect People for Who They Are

'Respect People for Who They Are, Not for What Their Titles are' -- Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines

“Respect People for Who They Are, Not for What Their Titles are”

In “The Best Advice I Ever Got” article in Fortune magazine, Herb Kelleher, founder and recently-retired Chairman of Southwest Airlines, discussed the importance of respecting and trusting people.

“One piece of [my mother’s] advice that always stuck in my mind is that people should be respected and trusted as people, not because of their position or title. Frequently, position or title did not reflect the true merits of a person.”

“Thanks to her advice, in the business world I try not to judge anyone by superficial standards. I try to approach them with an open mind. I’m very interested in their ideas. … You ought to be open to listening to people. Show that you care about them as individuals, not just as workers. You know how some people are always looking over your shoulder to see if there’s somebody more important behind you? Well, one of the things that I’ve tried to do–if I’m talking to a person, that person is the only person in the world while we’re talking. They’re owed that.”

[Note: Image of Herb Kelleher with mechanics courtesy of Southwest Airlines]

Call for Action

Our personal and professional lives are not solo acts. Every endeavour includes an active involvement and support of the people in our lives: parents, spouses, children, friends, bosses, employees and peers. Respect and trust are the foundation of connecting with people and building relationships. As managers and leaders, respect for people is fundamental to engaging them and getting things done. Yet, we live in a world obsessed with judging the significance of individuals based on the superficialities of appearance and social order.

  • Have an open mind. Accept people for who they are and respect their individuality.
  • Develop your listening skills. When listening to another person, think that he or she is the only person in the world.
  • Be compassionate and kind. Never treat people as a means to an end.


  1. master choo says

    respect people top 5 list: what your choice…

    my choice is: 1-self, 2-parent, 3-teachers, 4-elders, 5-family…

    thank you

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