How Much Can You Learn Over One Lunch? Personalize Your Values, Part 1

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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