Should a Leader Always Go First? Personalize Your Values, Part 3

This is the third 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 might be helpful to read PART 1 and PART 2 first.

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 (read more about that HERE if you missed the first post).

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:

1. Demonstrate more than we evaluate.

This is a really hard one for me. I am a natural critic, not because I enjoy being critical, but because I love progress and growth, and critical evaluation helps us get better. But I believe the local Chick-fil-A Operator and team members learned more by watching Dan demonstrate “Second Mile Service.”

Is your temptation as a leader to take notes and hold an evaluation meeting or to simply demonstrate values? I’m going to start doing this more often.

2. Demonstrate both internally and externally.

I’ve observed Dan demonstrate the servant spirit many times at the Chick-fil-A Corporate Headquarters, but that is not enough to spread the virus of “Second Mile Service” across the entire chain. By walking in local restaurants and publicly displaying these values, the restaurant team gained better insight.

As a leader in a church, I want to demonstrate our values both internally (with our staff and key leaders) and externally (with our attendees and in our community). Watching Dan has given me some important things to consider.

In the end, we need to lead the way by going first. Even though my organization is tiny compared to Chick-fil-A, I still need to display the behaviors I want our staff and church to display. If personal service is what’s most important, I need to personally serve in public settings. Whatever the value, I must go first.

How have you seen leaders “go first?” How do you intentionally “go first?”

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