True friends stick with us even when times are tough – “through thick and thin,” is the mantra.
True leaders do the same. They remain in service to their team members even when faced with undesirable circumstances.
The origination of this phrase is found in Olde English. The phrase ‘through thicket and thin wood’ was a literal description of any attempt to stroll through the heavily wooded English countryside.
Today we find greater self-serving behaviors from leaders and team members than we find activities that serve others. Western individualism and the acceptance of an “I win, you lose” competitive work environment breeds exactly what we’d expect. Servant leadership is seen as all too rare.
In fact, when leaders act in service to team members – for the greater good of team members – it’s big news!
Here’s an example. In Austin, TX, a popular Chick-fil-A restaurant reopened in August after a five month remodel. The owner paid all 50 employees’ their salaries during the closure, despite no revenues coming in. In fact, he gave all employees a $1-an-hour raise during that timeframe.
The franchise owner of 15 years, Jeff Glover, said, “I don’t want my group to have to forgo their salaries.” He added, “It would be a real financial crisis for the 50 families represented by the workers here to have to go five months without a job.”
Glover’s decision shocked his employees. Paying employees during a shutdown is highly unusual in the food service industry – possibly in every industry.
Why did this restaurant owner make that investment? Over the short term, he’s bleeding cash. Remodels are expensive. Paying staff salaries during the remodel just adds to the net loss over that five month period.
He did it because he genuinely cares for his team members and their families. If those team members went out to find other work during the remodel, they might not have been available to rejoin his team when the restaurant re-opened.
He did it because it makes financial sense. His initial outlay kept his talented, engaged team together. Glover now has experienced team members who can help mentor new hires (the store added a third drive through lane in addition to expanding the dining room) and get them up to speed quickly and efficiently.
He did it because it makes “heart” sense. His employees’ commitment to Glover, the restaurant, the culture, their customers, and their team members skyrocketed. Their pride in their team and in the customer experience translates into cooperative interaction, genuine service efforts, and proactive problem solving.
Servant leadership is not the norm but the benefits are astounding. If you want employees to stick with you through thick and thin, you must do the same for them, first.
Photo © Vlada Zhikhareva – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.
Don’t miss a single video segment in Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series or any of his video clips. Subscribe to Chris’ Vimeo channel.
Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips are also available on YouTube. Subscribe to Chris’ YouTube channel.
The music heard on Chris’ podcasts is from one of his songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2016 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). He played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Chris will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Chris only recommend products or services he uses personally and believes will add value to his readers. Chris is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”