Leaders Love Pranks

One of my personal favorite leaders of all time (this includes statesmen, business, military and spiritual) is Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines. He once said that the “business of business is people.” This was not a mere platitude written by a speech writer. This was a direct reflection of his core values. It informed everything he did, including the way he treated every employee of the company.

So, how do pranks come into this? 

It turns out that Herb Kelleher (and many other top leaders) loved to play pranks. They are the kind of pranks that make everyone laugh and causes people years later to write about it. Herb Kelleher was famous for:
  • Occasionally hiding in the overhead luggage bins on planes and then jumping out mid-flight to the surprise and delight of all the passengers (and crew). 
  • When challenged on a trademark issue, he challenged his "opponent" to an arm wrestling match. 
  • During the annual BBQ bash, he would show up on a Harley wearing a costume. 
  • He would appear in airports dressed in a costume to greet passengers as they boarded.
These are things that can only be pulled off by a leader. Someone who loves the employees, loves the customers, loves what he is doing in the world. More often than not, this results in a lot of love coming back towards the leader and the business itself.

Are you free to make customers smile and even laugh? Does your organization exercise the freedom of delighting the stakeholders?