S. Truett Cathy: Character in Leadership


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NORTHCENTRAL UNIVERSITY ASSIGNMENT COVER SHEET Learner: Jeffrey L Boyer THIS FORM MUST BE COMPLETELY FILLED IN Please Follow These Procedures: If requested by your mentor, use an assignment cover sheet as the first page of the word processor file. Use “headers” to indicate your course code, assignment number, and your name on each page of the assignment/homework including this assignment cover sheet. . Keep a Photocopy or Electronic Copy Of Your Assignments: You may need to re-submit assignments if your mentor has indicated that you may or must do so. Academic Integrity: All work submitted in each course must be the Learner’s own. This includes all assignments, exams, term papers, and other projects required by the faculty mentor. The knowing submission of another persons work represented as that of the Learner’s without properly citing the source of the work will be considered plagiarism and will result in an unsatisfactory grade for the work submitted or for the entire course, and may result in academic dismissal. OM5015 Dr. Jean Perlman Organizational Behavior Assignment 6 Faculty Use Only Character and Its Influence in Leadership Jeffrey L. Boyer Dr. Jean Perlman North Central University August 5, 2010 Abstract S. Truett Cathy (Truett Cathy) is the founder and CEO of Chick-fil-A, Inc. that currently operates as the second largest quick-serve chicken restaurant in the United States. The goal of this paper is to bring to light the influence, effectiveness and most importantly the character of one of the most endearing CEO’s in the United States. The paper provides a detailed overview of Mr. Cathy’s achievements in business, and provides a personal perspective from Mr. Cathy what he felt were the most important principles for developing a great business. A review of Truett Cathy’s character traits results in a discussion of some of the most important traits in correlation to his success such as, integrity, selflessness, high moral character and others. An examination of charisma and character is also found in the paper with a comparison in leadership characteristics of Mr. Cathy to that of Jack Welsh, former CEO of General Electric. The paper concludes with a short summation of how Mr. Cathy’s leadership principles could influence one’s leadership decisions moving forward. S. Truett Cathy: An Introduction S. Truett Cathy (Truett Cathy) is founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A, Inc. Cathy started the business in 1946, when he and his brother, Ben, opened an Atlanta diner known as The Dwarf Grill (later renamed The Dwarf House). Through the years, the restaurant prospered and led Cathy to further the success of his business. In 1967, Cathy founded and opened the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Atlanta, GA with the company growing to the second-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the United States based on annual sales. “Cathy”. n. d. para. 2) Truett Cathy is widely known as one of the most endearing and selfless entrepreneurs in business. Often described as the man who “invented the chicken sandwich”… Mr. Cathy would more rather be known to the world for his satisfaction and sense of obligation to the community and its young people. (“Cathy” n. d. para. 4) Today Chick-fil-A is one of the most popular fast food restaurants, and the principles of the founder are not simply acknowledged, but rather it seams endeared by the employees and the patrons of the restaurant. Truett Cathy built his life and business based on hard work, humility and biblical principles. Based on these principles, all of Chick-fil-A’s restaurants operate with a ‘closed on Sunday’ policy, without exception (“Cathy. n. d. para. 8) Mr. Cathy adopted this principle at the risk of company profits, but Mr. Cathy wanted to set an example for his employees that family comes before profits. Interestingly enough one of Mr. Cathy’s favorite quotes comes from the book of Proverbs, which says, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold”. Mr. Cathy’s passion for young people has translated significantly to corporate Chick-fil-A, which has now given more than $25 million in scholarships to its employees since 1973. Truett Cathy is one of the most decorated philanthropists in America today. S. Truett Cathy: Reasons for Admiration Growing up in central Pennsylvania in the 90’s did not provide a personal opportunity to see the impact of the Chick-fil-A franchise, but after moving to Lynchburg, VA it was quickly noticed that the food chain was uniquely different than its competitors in the burger industry, excluding the obvious product selection. When visiting a chick-fil-A it would be noticed that the workforce seems to have a joy about their work… trained to use the phrase, “it’s my pleasure to serve you” the employees not only make you feel welcome, but rather to make your dining experience a great time. Every Chick-fil-A restaurant personally visited has provided a wait staff in the dining area with a friendly smile asking if they may take your trash for you, or even refill the coffee you purchased while taking exact instructions to how you would like your drink prepared. Where did this come from? Is this just a clever ploy by management, or is the principle of being a servant to others being engrained into the culture of the restaurant by its founder? The answer lies in Truett Cathy’s Five-step recipe for success: 1. Climb with Care and Confidence 2. Create a “Loyalty Effect” 3. Never Lose a Customer 4. Put Principles and People ahead of Profits 5. Closed on Sunday (“Cathy”. n. d. Five-step Recipe. ) When visiting Truett Cathy’s personal website you will see the principles in life for which he guards so dearly. As part of Mr. Cathy’s “Five-Step Recipe for Business” he is quoted as saying, “I have found that the most effective way of promoting my business didn’t cost me anything but a little kindness to my customers”. (S. Truett Cathy. n. d. ) As a visionary Mr. Cathy possesses all the traits of a great leader and entrepreneur, but the humanitarian side of this fine gentleman is stamped all over the business processes of his organization. Mr. Cathy’s personal sense of serving others alludes to what can be considered some of the most important character traits desired in leadership. One of the first traits noticed of Mr. Cathy is a compelling sense of modesty and humility. Reasons as to why modesty/humility are important in leadership is supported by Jim Collins (2001), author of the book “Good to Great”, who submits that many of the best CEO’s in American business operate their companies with an extraordinary sense of humility and modesty. Collins (2001) would argue that humility creates a sense of approachability for those who are following, and allows for open, creative discussion about business processes and ideas. Protecting the vision and name of Chick-fil-A is evident by Mr. Cathy’s business practices, writings and observable character. It is easily understood by corporate practices that Truett Cathy values high ethical and moral standards. The importance of these traits are important not only in creating a trust within a leadership team, but as a key determinant of protecting business interests against corruption and ultimate business failure. Maguad and Krone (2009) would concur with this belief when they wrote, “the moral leader is more than a person who is conditioned to follow rules or policies. Moral leadership is what one is, as opposed to what one does. ‘What one is’ flows directly from the values he or she possesses” (p. 09) Finally, of all the traits that Mr. Cathy possesses… selflessness seems to be one of the most important to him. Recorded in Mr. Cathy’s five-step recipe for business success he writes, 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. I have always encouraged my restaurant operators and team members to give back to the local community. We should be about more than just selling chicken; we should be a part of our customer’s lives and the communities in which we serve. Selflessness is one of the most endearing personality traits that one can have. It creates an endearment to the one who possesses it and manifests itself though generosity, the willingness to put others needs in front of your own along with the willingness and joy to serve others. It’s a personal belief that the greatest leaders are those who are willing to serve. In relation to selflessness, Charles Goodyear once wrote, Life should not be estimated exclusively by the standard of dollars and cents. I am not disposed to complain that I have planted and others have gathered the fruits. A man has cause for regret only when he sows and no one reaps. (n. d) Charisma vs. Character In preparing for this research paper, the initial leader of choice with regards to inspiration was to be Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. Even as popular and admirable that Mr. Welch may be, there were many studies of his leadership traits which pointed out that his strengths in leadership were that of charisma and not those of character. Jack Welch took General Electric (GE) to profit heights it had not seen before, but his leadership many times took the approach that people were expendable much sooner than corporate profits. As a result Jack Welch was perceived by many to not care about what happened to individuals around him so as long as corporate goals were being met. In a study by Sankar (2003), which studied the difference between charisma and character, the author states that charisma, Focuses on personality attributes such as dynamism, style, image, inspiration, symbolic behaviors, impression management, emotional intelligence, extroverted style, self-confidence, etc… but that charismatic leadership may occasionally be more personalized in nature where the leader is self-serving, self-aggrandizing, and exploitative of others. p. 46) Mr. Welch was certainly one of the greatest CEO’s in American history, but it could be debatable that his leadership skills were more of charisma than of character. This begs the question as to whether he should be admired as a great leader if business outcomes were more important that those who served at GE. Character, in contrast to charisma, is viewed by Sankar (2003) as a leader’s moral center which influences his/her vision, goals, self-concept, work ethic, attitude, etc. p. 48) Sankar (2003) spends a great deal of time in his research pointing out the significance of integrity with relation to those who have high character. (p. 48) Sankar (2003) defines integrity as a “state of soundness of and adherence to moral principle” (p. 48). Mr. Sankar (2003) when speaking to the importance of character and its role in business leadership states, The leader plays a critical role in the propagation of an ethical culture within his/her organization. In view of ethical-moral crisis in many occupations it can be deduced that this crisis is indicative of the absence of moral leadership in these organizations… The leader’s character is a strategic source of power for infusing the culture of his/her organization with a code of ethics, moral vision, imagination, and courage. Leadership excellence cannot be evaluated without an assessment of the leader’s character. (Sankar, 2003, p. 55) With regards to Truett Cathy and his qualities as a leader, he can be admired for many leadership traits such as being confident, inspiring, a great motivator and recruiter… however Mr. Cathy seems by all accounts to be a man of great integrity and character which can be argued to far outweigh all other personality traits. Truett Cathy understands the value of “worthy leadership” which is defined by Thompson, Grahek, Phillips and Fay (2008) as having, “the ability to guide, direct or influence people in a way that has great merit, character and value” (p. 366). In relation to personal leadership, a detailed study of the life of Mr. Cathy will inspire me to keep life and leadership in perspective. It will be a personal goal in all levels of leadership to truly put principles and people ahead of profits. Regardless of profits and performance, this will provide a sense of accomplishment at the end of life that will far outweigh short-term gains at the cost of others. Clark M, Payne R. Character-Based Determinants of Trust in Leaders. Risk Analysis: An International Journal [serial online]. October 2006;26(5):1161-1173. Available from: Business Source Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed August 3, 2010. References: Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap--and others don't. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. Kathy, S. Truett. (n. d. ). Retrieved from http://www. ruettcathy. com/default. asp Maguad, B. , & Krone, R. (2009). Ethics and moral leadership: Quality linkages. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 20(2), 209-222. doi:10. 1080/14783360802623043. Maguad, B. , & Krone, R. (2009). Ethics and moral leadership: Quality linkages. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 20(2), 209-222. doi:10. 1080/14783360802623043. Maxwell, John C. (2002). The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc. Maxwell, John C. (2002). Leadership 101. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc. Robbins, S. P. , & Judge, T. A. 2009)   Organizational behavior, Upper Saddle River, NJ:   Prentice Hall. ISBN: 9780136007173 Robbins, S. P. , & Judge, T. A. (2009)   Organizational behavior,   Upper Saddle River, NJ:   Prentice Hall. ISBN: 9780136007173 Sankar, Y. (2003). Character not charisma is the critical measure of leadership excellence. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 9(4), 45-55. doi:10. 1177/107179190300900404. Thompson, A. , Grahek, M. , Phillips, R. , & Fay, C. (2008). The search for worthy leadership. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 60(4), 366-382. doi:10. 1037/1065-9293. 60. 4. 366.
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