Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chick-fil-A: More than a Sandwich

I recently had the great good fortune to attend my second Leadercast, a one-day event hosted annually by Chick-fil-A, live in Atlanta and broadcast to 800 host sites in over 25 countries. This year’s theme was Beyond You Leadership, in recognition that leaders have a much greater impact when they think more about the people they lead than they think of themselves, when they are mindful about how they lead. Unfortunately, it’s also true that leaders have a far-reaching impact when they think only of themselves, just not the impact followers want to experience.

The premise of Beyond You Leadership is that leadership is not measured by what one person is able to accomplish or the power she wields; it’s measured by the influence leaders have on their followers and what their followers are able do as a result of this influence.  We were asked to consider what we needed to do to be “leaders worth following?”  Was I surprised when I heard that two in five Americans rate their bosses as bad and that 90% of people surveyed believe there are not enough leaders?  Not a bit. Do I ever want to be known as one of those bad bosses? Certainly not.

“Being a leader worth following” seems a worthy goal.  Check out the nuggets I captured. I feel sure you’ll find at least one or two to be thought-provoking.

As a leader:
  • Make as few decisions as possible—if you have power, but hand off the opportunity to make a decision, you’ve empowered someone just by saying “you decide”
    • Consider that as your organizational authority increases, your organizational IQ decreases…you know less and less about more and more 
    • Don’t’ confuse authority with competency
  • Work for your team—ask “what can I do to help?”
    • Empty your cup—pour into others what you know, all you know; consider what you can do to fill their cups
Dr. Henry Cloud
  • Leaders leave a wake – results and relationships
  • The foundation of influence is trust: do your people “know” that you “understand” them?
  • Opportunity comes when passion and what you’re good at come together in ways that influence
  • You influence by giving up control and defining what your follower  is going to control; show followers that they have control over results
Simon Sinek
  • You can’t measure leadership on a daily basis, just as you can’t measure the benefits of exercise daily
  • Results and profits can be measured daily, so they get the focus
  • Leadership is a choice
  • We must be the leaders we wish we had
Every speaker was worth listening to, though not all had a takeaway for me personally.
  • I was moved by Laura Schroff’s presentation. I recall reading her story in a magazine, and I’m considering getting her book An Invisible Thread. I’m betting that when you click on the link, you’ll remember the tale too.
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s laugh was infectious, and someone in the audience asked if it could be downloaded as a ring tone.
  • Hearing Malcolm Gladwell was a treat, as I’ve read two of his books: Blink and The Tipping Point

I worked in Leadership Development earlier in my career, am passionate about the topic and have read too many to count books and articles on it. I’m fond of saying there’s nothing new under the sun about leadership, yet the opportunity to hear different perspectives always offers a chance to think just a bit differently. Before this event, I’d never heard of Simon Sinek, and he may have been, for me, the most inspirational speaker. His TED Talk on Start with Why is billed as the second most watched of all time. A day spent on leadership is always worthwhile, but hearing him was the icing on the cake.  And, yes, the Chick-fil-A sandwich for lunch was a nice touch.

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