Throwing Your Weight Around. Personalize Your Values, Part 4

This is the fourth 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. In case you missed it, here are the previous posts:

In the previous post, we discussed how every leader should “go first.” By that, in reference to organizational values, we mean that leaders should not just communicate values, they must publicly demonstrate values – consistently. Going first is important – in fact, it’s critical – but leaders cannot just display a value once and consider their work done.

As an organizational leader, it’s oh too easy to forget that “going first” is only the beginning of setting the tone. As John Maxwell has made famous, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” When it comes to the life of organizational values, John’s assertion holds true, as well. But values are only as good as a leaders ability to clarify and consistently demonstrate. That is exactly what Dan does consistently across the Chick-fil-A chain. Here’s what I saw Dan do beautifully:

Leaders set the tone.

Here are three ways you and I can be tone-setters when it comes to our values, as well:

1. Don’t treat values like “show and tell.”

Do you remember “show and tell” in preschool? You brought in a frog, showed your friends, and took it back home never to be seen in school again? When it comes to values, leaders too often demonstrate once, then move on, assuming their team and organization will continue to live out the value.

Dan’s service in the local restaurant set a clear tone for everyone on the team – “In case you forgot, the customer’s experience is valued, it’s very important, and it will ALWAYS be important.”

You and I need to follow Dan’s lead. We should not just explain a value or provide a one-time demonstration. Great leaders set the tone by repeating the value over and over again.

2. Leverage your weight.

I bet you’ve learned this like me – the hard way! As a leader, both our words and actions carry a lot of weight – probably too much weight. But while we should not reduce the amount of weight we carry, we can be more intentional in how we leverage our weight.

Like you, my words and actions set the tone for Watermarke Church. When I arrive at the office, when I show up for meetings, what meetings I attend, how I speak on stage, the terminology I use, how I treat staff members, how I treat attendees … you get the point. Everything a leader does communicates. Everything we do and say sets a tone. As leaders, we must recognize our weight and leverage it for the organization’s advantage.

3. Pre-decide the tone you will set.

Because a leader carries so much weight, it is extremely important that we all pre-decide what tone we will set. Maybe it’s just my problem, but I have off days. There are times when I am tired. There are moments where I want to run a hotdog stand, not a church. As the leader, I need to recognize these moments, capture them, and remember what tone I pre-decided to set.

I don’t know how Dan was feeling when he walked in the local Chick-fil-A location, but in watching him for 30 minutes, it was clear – he pre-decided before walking in what was important, what he valued, and how he was going to set the tone. Not surprisingly, the tone of the restaurant changed within minutes of him walking in. Again, not because he is the president, but beause he was the lead customer servant. We have that power, as well. How will you leverage it?

So how are you going to set the tone every day?

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