There was much to be learned watching Dan Cathy’s surprise visit to a local Chick-fil-A location, but for me personally, this last observation might be the most important:
Leaders connect relationally.
It was quite astounding, but before Dan left the store, he knew everyone’s name. Literally. He personally engaged and learned something about every single customer in the restaurant. Whether this is his natural gifting or not, Dan has cultivated the act of service personalization. It was impressive, to say the least.
When I watched the President of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, make a surprise visit to one of their locations, there was a lot to learn. Watching him work the room, serve every customer in the restaurant, refill drinks, and more, was a site to behold. But what I might have loved the most was watching him pick up a napkin from the floor, walk to the nearest trash, throw it away … and move on.
Seems simple. But think about it. How many times have you seen a leader (not you of course, but another leader) see a problem and decide to NOT address it immediately? Sure, some issues need immediate attention, but that bucket is much smaller than many of us tend to think.
I learned this the hard way. As a Lead Pastor, I care immensely about our Sunday morning service experience. When something is not right, I want it fixed. You guessed it – immediately! Early in my time as a leader, I would text staff members incessantly during the Sunday morning experience, pointing out problems, issues, trash, and whatever else I could find wrong. I reasoned they wanted things done with excellence, too, so I was actually helping them.
What I discovered was that my constant evaluation was not winning any points with the team. We all wanted to make it better, but not every moment needed to be a “make it better RIGHT NOW moment.”
Dan reminded me: Leaders make it better … over time.
In this post, I’d love to share three simple ways you and I can makes things better without losing influence and support of our teams.
Thanks for reading!
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.
Read more to discover the three ways you and I can be tone-setters when it comes to the values we hope to lead.
Most organizations have defined values in some shape or form. At Watermarke Church, we have a set of organizational and staff values. These values define our approach and set our strategies. If you do not have a defined set of values, you most likely have values that are just undefined, because every leader has expectations based on some version of internal or intrinsic values.
Like Dan, I have the opportunity to walk around as a leader and observe our church in action most every week. Of course, my organization is spread over a couple of buildings rather than a country, but still. It is so tempting as a leader to walk into an event or Sunday morning environment and evaluate what I see against our organizational values. There is a time for this, but remember what Dan did when he walked in the local Chick-fil-A?
Dan didn’t just evaluate against the value, he personally demonstrated the value. Why? Because:
Leaders go first.
Dan did not enter the store, ask to see the Operator, and instruct him to get out and personally serve customers. Dan just served. Not because he needed to prove a point, but because he wanted to make a difference. Leaders go first.
Here are two specific ways we all need to go first:
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:
This is the first 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. It’s amazing what you can learn while eating the best chicken sandwich and sweet tea in the world!
Here we go…
I should first tell you: I love Chick-fil-A. My Mom began working in their corporate headquarters when I was 7-years-old, so Chick-fil-A has always been an influence in my life. Not to mention they have the best chicken sandwiches and sweet tea.
Every leader loves progress, and driving environment, program, event, or even leadership evolution is part of of the progress loop. Great leaders practice the art of evaluation and evolution. Individually, they are equally important, but without their counterpart, each is purposeless.
Some definitions based on my personal use: Evaluation is the systematic process of analyzing against a standard of expectation. By definition alone, effective evaluate is far from accidental. But evaluation is nearly worthless without evolution. Evolution is the process of change toward the standard of expectation.
If you want to be effective at both evaluation and evolution, make sure you: