I talk about personal purpose and the power of asking “why” before anything else often, but I wanted to do some digging and see if that truly can translate into profitability within the business realm. What I found in my first inquiry is telling.

Consistently rated a top U.S. airline in terms of profits, customer satisfaction, and efficiency is Southwest Airlines.

So, I did a quick Google search for their mission statement and the first result was an About Us section for Southwest Airlines that detailed the company’s mission.

And guess what, of all the major airline carriers, Southwest’s mission is the only one that has NOTHING to do with the “what” and everything to do with the WHY.

In fact, the words plane, jet, airline, or travel don’t even appear in the Southwest’s core mission.

Here it is:

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.

The planes, fuel, and air travel are just a means to making “people happy”. Their product is people, and they know it. And like the “bus” approach to flying or not, on most Southwest flights the flight attendants are more apt to tell a joke prior to even going over the safety instructions of your Boeing 737. The “why” comes before the “what” and it is clear at every level of the organization.

That may be why they don’t appear on this list: America’s Meanest Airlines. 

So let’s look at #1 on this list, the “meanest” airline in America: United Airlines.

I did another Google search, and guess what: I could NOT find their mission anywhere. In fact, this is what comes up when you do a search for United’s mission statement:

 

To be honest, I finally found their mission through a Yahoo Question and Answer website:

“To be recognized worldwide as the airline of choice.”

It is only focused on the WHAT.

It is hard for me to believe that this is a coincidence.

A sense of deep authentic purpose permeates throughout an organization. If every employee of your company truly knows why they and their company exist in the world and believes it, every action and task becomes purposeful.

True mission is key and often overlooked, even in the largest global companies.

Judging by these two companies’ sense of “why”, a baggage handler for Southwest is handling a customer’s happiness, whereas a baggage handler for United is just handling, well, baggage.

How do you think the service will differ? It clearly does.

Oh and by the way, Southwest’s Google search results looked like this:

– Zach