Today, I have asked Andy Lorenzen, Director of Talent at Chick-fil-A, to write a guest blog post. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at some events for their restaurant Operators across the country. What an amazing group of men and women. I hope you enjoy Andy’s words below. At Growing Leaders… We love Chick-fil-A.
In my role, I spend a lot of time with men and women that own restaurants. Restaurants that sell a LOT of chicken, and serve many hungry customers every day. If it was just about selling chicken, it would be a relatively straightforward proposition. But it’s not. It’s really about HOW we serve those customers. We don’t just want to fill their orders, we want to fill their lives. We want to help them be better leaders, students and parents. And doing that takes a very special kind of restaurant leader indeed. It takes someone that serves others before serving himself. These kinds of leaders are not easy people to find, but they’re out there. We call them Operators. They are some of the most selfless people I know. They give a lot, but in their giving they get so much back in return.
Our Operators have found that it’s not enough to just select great leaders. Good raw talent is key, certainly; but you’ve got to be intentional about growing that leadership talent as well. We think that every time an Operator grows a leader, they grow a better life for everyone around that leader. Doing this requires that our Operators invest a very precious resource: their time. Yes, growing leaders takes money. It takes wisdom. It takes opportunity. But what it takes more of than anything else is time. Time to have a conversation. Time to give advice. Time to talk and think about the future. Time to tell someone that they could be better. Time to give back. This is expensive to our Operators. But the fact that they give it is what makes us different. It’s what makes their restaurants different — they give more.
Over the last few years, we’ve found that one of the most fruitful investments of an Operator’s time with his or her leaders is to just talk through a principle and bring it to life with a story or an example. While every Operator has her own set of stories that inherently teaches leadership, Tim’s Habitudes® have been an incredibly helpful way to illuminate the harder lessons of growing as a leader. Recently, I watched Tim talk with a room full of Operators about one of my favorite Habitudes®, Chess and Checkers. Such a simple concept with such a profound message. In many ways, it summarizes the best traditions of our most servant-minded Operators: Know each person and what they are capable of doing best and help them do more of it. Imagine the impact this has on a young leader — to know that this restaurant owner REALLY knows them and what they’re capable of, and tells them and shows them a way to do more of it! Now that’s giving! And what makes it so sacrificial is that in many cases, the Operator never sees it returned to them. Instead, it’s returned to a customer, a child, a student, a patient, or someone else along life’s road. And knowing that is what makes it all worthwhile for that Operator to give more.
Tim, thanks for helping our Operators grow their leaders all these many years. Thanks for helping all of us give more!