A Great Leader and a Great Man

tc-at-restaurant

Photo from truettcathy.com

Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, died earlier this week at the age of 93.  I’ve watched his leadership from afar for many years and read some of his writings on leadership and business.  He was devoted to his family, and by all accounts was a strong man of faith.  He was one of the most laser focused leaders I’ve ever seen; he knew what he believed in and he worked tirelessly and determinedly to make his vision a reality.

Owning and leading a business using principles of faith is not for the faint of heart.  In recent years, he and his company came under attack for the beliefs that he held and operated according to.  But as any leader worth their salt knows, there will always be people who disagree with what you do and how you do it.  Always.  I mean, even Jesus, the greatest leader in history, had those who disagreed with what He did and how He did it!

The question is this: will you allow the feelings and opinions of others to drive your behavior away from what you believe is the best course of action, or will you lead according to your principles, according to what you believe is best for the people and the organization you lead?  Cathy did the latter, and I always admired him for that.  Whether you agree with what he believed or not, you must admire a leader that started with one restaurant and built it into a nationwide chain worth billions, and who always acted according to his core principles and values.

Many bloggers this week have posted some of their favorite quotes from this great leader, and I wanted to add a few of mine as well.

  • “I’d like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order.”

This is my favorite.  How many leaders have you heard articulate this?  Priorities are CRITICAL for everyone, but most especially for those who lead others.

  • “Sometimes success is disguised as hard work.”

Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Hard work is not optional if you want to succeed, yet it is often overlooked in the search for the easy, silver bullet.  Guess what?  That mythical creature doesn’t exist.

  • “Repetition yields constants. Constants create cultures.” 

Do you want to know how to build organizational culture?  This is how.  Consistent repetition, so that expectations can be set and met by those you lead.

  • “Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.”

This is too often overlooked, and is based on a teaching of Jesus found in the Bible – “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).  Wouldn’t you like to be led by a leader who lived this way?  Then be that kind of leader.

  • “I believe that you can combine biblical principles and good business practices.”

Too often, there is a big gap between what happens on Sunday at church and what happens on Tuesday at the office.  Cathy found a way to bridge that gap and bring his faith alive in his work.  That’s something I believe every leader and every follower of Jesus should and can aspire to do.

What did you learn from Truett Cathy’s life and leadership?  Add your favorite quote from Truett Cathy in the comments below.