“One of the greatest challenges we have as business leaders is to maintain a sense of vision and articulate that vision to others,” Cathy said. “Somebody in the business better have their head in the clouds, but at the same time, they need to get down on the ground floor.”
Successful business leaders must never lose their relevance with their customers, their employees or the community around them, Cathy told close to 200 Romans at The Well at West Rome Baptist Church Monday night.
“That’s why I and other Chick-fil-A leaders take customer calls one day a week,” he said. “This Friday, I will be talking to customers who went through our drive-through and didn’t get their waffle fries or had a coupon that we didn’t honor.”
Business leaders also must be willing to change, said Cathy, who was filling in for his father, Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy.
“When the rate of internal change in a business, a church or a community does not keep pace with the rate of external change, disaster is imminent,” he said. “I am perpetually trying to keep our business on the edge.”
Holding up a cell phone, Cathy said he must be willing to change as rapidly as the technology he uses.
“I need to make sure that I am retooling myself as fast as the folks who are driving the technology that powers my cell phone or my laptop,” he said. “I must make sure that I am a proponent of change.”
At the same time, business leaders must have the kind of historical vision that allows them to retain the things of value in their company.
“The paradox is that the important things of life have never changed,” he said. “I keep a New Testament with me to remind me that in my passion to keep up with where things are going, I need to remember where things have been.”
In the 56 years since Truett Cathy opened his first restaurant, Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A has grown into one of the largest privately owned restaurant chains in the nation, but the company has continued to close all of its restaurants on Sunday.
“Dad would say that is one of the smartest business decisions he ever made,” Cathy said