Personal Power > Position Power
In Steve Robinson’s new book Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A, he recaps his 30+ years on the marketing team of one of America’s most beloved brands. The book is full of personal stories and behind-the-scenes looks of how Chick-fil-A became the fast food juggernaut it is today.
One of my favorite stories was recounted by Jimmy Collins, retired Chief Operating Officer, on founder Truett Cathy‘s ability to influence his team members:
On Grand Opening day of Paramus Mall, as usual Truett was at the lease line offering samples of Chick-fil-A to shoppers.
As he returned tot he kitchen to get a fresh plate of samples, he said to me, “That girl is not smiling.” He pointed to Martha. She seemed to be having a bad day and certainly was not smiling.
I went to Martha and told her she was to smile at the customers and walked away.
When Truett returned for another plate of samples, he said, “She is still not smiling.”
I said, “I will see that she does it this time.”
But instead, Truett stopped me and said, “I’ll take care of it.”
I was puzzled. What did he intend to do that he thought would be better than the instructions I was giving her? I watched.
Truett walked up to Martha and said, “Why is it that every time I look at you, you are smiling?”
She did give him a little smile, but it didn’t last. I thought, That is not going to work, but kept my eye on her and Truett.
The next time he passed her as he went into the kitchen, he said, “There you are smiling again.” She gave him a bigger smile that lasted a little longer. By this time I was giving my full attention to watching the two of them.
Truett would often turn from sampling to smile at Martha. Every time he did, she would smile!
Soon Martha was wearing a big beautiful smile that lasted the rest of the day.
That day I learned a great lesson of how the use of personal power is so much more effective than position power…Truett never told her what to do, but he clearly and simply made it attractive for her to do what he expected.
This story makes me ask myself three questions. Maybe they’re questions you should ask, as well:
- Am I guilty of relying on positional power to make things happen?
- How can I can use personal influence to raise the performance standard of my team members?
- Am I more concerned with a team member following the rules or rising to their potential?