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.
Growing up around Chick-fil-A provided the pleasure of knowing and interacting with the Cathy family. They are great people. Last week when I was having lunch at my local Chick-fil-A location (number 1 combo with sweet tea, as if you didn’t know), Dan Cathy, the current President, came by for a surprise visit. From what I understand, he does this often. What I saw unfold was an incredible lesson in personal organizational leadership.
Keep in mind; Dan is the President of this multi-billion dollar operation. They have thousands of stores around the country. We have all witnessed leaders interacting with staff and team members. Many of you have seen or been a part of a surprise leadership visit. What I saw was beautifully different than anything I had seen before. When Dan walked it the restaurant, here’s what he did:
- He picked up some trashing in the doorway. It was just a stray napkin, but he noticed the trash and picked it up. And he didn’t address it – he just disposed of it. That seemed important.
- He went straight to a table of customers and asked if he could refill their drinks. Then he went to another table and did the same thing.
- He proceeded to work the room, not from a position as President, but as a servant. He cared for people. Ask them about their families. And refilled more drinks, cleaned up their trash, and simply visited with customers.
- He ended his stay by sitting down in the middle of the store with the local Operator and a few team members to engage personally, relationally, and cast vision for their location.
Amazing. I wish every leader could have seen Dan in action.
In this leadership series, I want to explore in more detail what I learned from my lunch:
1. Leaders identify and prioritize their values.
2. Leaders go first.
3. Leaders set the tone.
4. Leaders make it better … over time.
5. Leaders connect relationally.
Over the next week, I want to explore each of these ideas, but I’d love your help finding the principles therein.