In our recent podcast interview with Chick-fil-A’s longtime Chief Marketing Officer, Steve Robinson, Rodney Cox asked him how leaders can cultivate a positive culture. A workplace’s culture is a collection of attitudes and beliefs about how things are done, internally and externally. Steve had written in his book that “culture is the soil from which great brands grow.” He responded to Rodney with four key steps.
- Reach a consensus within the leadership of why the organization exists and put it into words—write down your statement of culture.
- Use your culture statement as a filter, in all types of decision-making.
- Live out the culture. Demonstrate it (the culture) constantly, through the use of stories and actions.
- Be purposeful about passing the stories down through the generations.
To reinforce his point, Steve said about his book, Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A, “I originally wrote the book for the Chick-fil-A family.”
It’s so important to prioritize organizational culture. Why? When leaders prioritize the culture, we actively live out our love for our team members. A clear culture not only strengthens the organization’s brand but also creates clarity for team members, which in turn helps them succeed.
Steve went on to say, “there were stories in there (his book) all the way from how Truett founded the business to how and why we wrote the corporate purpose, and how did we make this decision to partner with independent operators to run the restaurants, and how in the world did we decide to use cows to promote the business. If you don’t capture those stories in a form that can, you know, be passed down through the generations you look up one day and you’ve lost the culture.”
Strong leaders pass down culture by building, strong, healthy relationships. There is no culture without cultivating our relationship with the people with which we serve. Building strong healthy relationships requires spending time together to help foster authentic, transparent, and trustworthy interaction where we are safe to contribute our God-given strengths. When we find ourselves in positions where we don’t have strength or competency in a specific area, we freely relinquish our power and authority to others. The culture at Chick-fil-A was not built by Truett Cathy it was simply founded by him. It was up to the people which he hired, surrounded himself with, and released to be authentic that grew the Chick-fil-A culture we know today that outlived Truett and now touches millions of people each year.
Are you cultivating the soil of your culture? Are you intentional about how you capture and document the elements of what makes your culture unique? Your ministry’s culture is directly related to your success as a leader. It reinforces workers’ trust in their job and keeps them inspired and motivated to perform at their highest level. Focus on it, and your team will thank you later.
Steve Robinson can be found online at https://srobinsonconsulting.com/