This morning I was listening to a leadership podcast by Andy Stanley, pastor of Northpoint Church in Atlanta. During his presentation he told a story about Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fila.
As the story goes, several years ago the executive leadership team of Chick-fila had worked for over a year on how to fend off the challenge created in their market by Boston Market. At the end of this year of study and exploration the leaders were in a frenzied debate on how to get bigger faster! It was a room full of young visionary leaders with big dreams and big ideas.
At the height of the dialogue, Truett Cathy the founder of Chick-fila began to pound on the table, which was very uncharacteristic of this great leader. When every eye in the room turned to him, he exclaimed that he was sick and tired off all this talk about getting bigger and bigger. Then he said:
“If we get better our customers will demand we get bigger!”
Over years of competing in the volatile food service industry, Cathy knew the secret to success and significance. It was getting “better” before you get “bigger.”
In fact in another quote Cathy pointed out that the best place for his restruants to be located was right next to their greatest competition.
“The best location we get is right next to a McDonald’s. We can compete with them because we do it better.”
This principle has rung true through the ages. The writer of Proverbs wrote:
Do you see someone skilled in their work?
They will serve before kings;
they will not serve before officials of low rank. (Prov. 22:29 NIV)
I also like the translation in the Message:
Observe people who are good at their work—
skilled workers are always in demand and admired;
they don’t take a backseat to anyone.
Sadly it appears greatness is sacrificed on the altar of bigger and bigger, faster and faster. If a leader desires to leave a lasting legacy, he or she would be wise to focus on getting better and better.