This is the second post of six in a leadership series, Personalize Your Values, all based on what I learned watching Dan Cathy’s surprise visit to a local Chick-fil-A restaurant. If you missed the introductory post, you can catch up HERE.
What should the President of Chick-fil-A do when he makes a surprise visit to a local location? When I saw Dan walk in the local Chick-fil-A restaurant a few weeks ago, a single location in a vast chain for which he serves as President, I was full of anticipation. Not because I know him, but because I wanted to see how the local Operator and team members would respond! A surprise visit by any leader can be cause anxiety.
But it was clear that Dan’s visit was different than your average surprise, leadership visit, beginning with his first steps into the restaurant. Dan and Chick-fil-A value the customer experience and servant leadership. I believe they have termed it “Second Mile Service.” When Dan first walked in, it was abundantly clear that:
Leaders identify and prioritize their values.
At Chick-fil-A, the customer experience is a key differentiator for their product. Dan is responsible for living this value throughout the organization and keeping it front and center. I’ve seen him do it repeatedly at their corporate headquarters and now on location.
Before we can personalize our values, every leader must identify values. Here are four ways you can I can do just that:
1. Leaders consider what they value.
What do you value? We all value something within our organization, but for many of us, we have never considered defining it. Leaders pay attention to what they value. In Chick-fil-A’s case, valuing the customer experience through “Second Mile Service” is of great value. It helps sell more chicken sandwiches, but it also speaks to the core of their beliefs.
What do you value? As a leader? In your organization? We should all pay great attention to what we value, because what we value is where we will lead others.
2. Leaders create value clarity.
Before Dan walked into the restaurant, he knew EXACTLY what he valued. And his values are defined clearly – “Second Mile Service.” As a leader, we too need to create great value clarity after we have identified what we value. You and I need to find ways to make every value abundantly clear.
Quick side note: Most, if not all, employees and volunteers want to meet a leader’s expectations, but that becomes impossible when leaders do not provide value clarity.
3. Leaders engage others in the process.
People must weigh in before they will buy in. Leaders must not define values in a vacuum, but rather with those with whom they hope to share and live out their values. As leaders, not only must we create value clarity, but we must also engage our teams and fellow leaders in the process.
4. Leaders communicate values consistently.
Chick-fil-A not only defined their values, but they consistently communicate their values throughout the organization. Their values are painted on the wall, prominent in all training materials, etc. The mission serves as a centering point, but their values serve as an integral part of their strategy.
For us as leaders, our values must be communicated over and over if we hope to see them embraced. As soon as we cannot imagine saying them once more, our teams are just beginning to understand and embrace them.
Bottom Line: How have you identified and created clarity around your organizational values?