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Don’t drop the baton

Don’t drop the baton

Dan Cathy is President and COO of Chick-fil-A. The 66-year old family business does more business in six days than McDonald’s does in seven. And its employees seem really satisfied – turnover at Chick-fil-A is 60 percent among hourly workers as compared to the industry’s 107 percent.

What’s the secret sauce (yes, pun intended)? Here are a couple of interesting details:

Total Alignment: The company’s approach to business follows their corporate purpose statement: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.” In other words, the corporation has aligned their mission with their policies.

Why does this matter? Because it impacts how every employee treats each other and their customers. Chick-fil-A provides its operators with the freedom to “surprise” customers by going the extra mile, like offering fresh ground pepper (where do you see that in a fast food restaurant?) or helping moms with children carry heavy trays to the table.

Common Sense: Cathy has a leadership toolkit he uses as well, which includes applications from items in our every day lives:

  1. Hockey puck and orchestra baton: “Leading an orchestra is very much like planning your work or working a plan. Be prepared to play a little hockey along the way.”
  2. Oxygen mask: “The Oxygen mask is our reminder that, as leaders, we need to take care of ourselves in order to best lead others.”
  3. Railroad spike: “Oftentimes we are distracted by all of the many options we have as we pursue our goals. The Railroad Spike is a reminder that we must have the clarity of vision that helps us stay focused and stay on track.”

It is safe to say that Dan Cathy clearly has common sense at the heart of CFA, driving decisions at all levels that allow each team member to contribute to their success.