The Impact of Talent and a Compelling Culture

Dee Ann Turner

with Dee Ann Turner

Senior Executive at Chick-fil-A

The Impact of Talent and a Compelling Culture

The Impact of Talent and a Compelling Culture 720 720 33Voices

Moe and Dee Ann Turner talk about how to develop extraordinary talent able to build and/or stimulate a company’s culture.

The Impact of Devout Leadership

Chick-Fil-A has a rich history of attracting and retaining exceptional executive leadership talent. Since it’s founding nearly 70 years ago, patriarch S. Truett Cathy had always put ‘principles before profits’.   To him, virtue was a matter of personal character, and as anyone who’s had the privilege to work with him would say, he had a contagious passion for people; especially children.  

By all measures, Cathy was a remarkable success story who did things his way.  He built a framework for success that was both personal, deliberate, and included these five immutable principles that still anchor Chick-fil-A’s success:

Climb with care and confidence –  “I wholeheartedly believe in this philosophy, which is why in all my years in the restaurant business, I have never tried to overextend. I’m satisfied stepping from one plateau to the next, making sure we’re doing everything right before moving on.”

Create a “loyalty effect” – “Our people are the cornerstone of all that we do at Chick-fil-A.  We believe that attracting great people helps create an unforgettable experience for our customers.”

Never lose a customer – “Ever since I was a teenager delivering newspapers (for seven straight years), I have tried not to lose a single customer. I treated each one like the most important person in the world and delivered each paper as if I were delivering it to the front door of the Governor’s mansion.”

Put principles and people ahead of profits – “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…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.”

Closed on Sunday – “I was not so committed to financial success that I was willing to abandon my principles and priorities. One of the most visible examples of this is our decision to close on Sunday. Our decision to close on Sunday was our way of honoring God and of directing our attention to things that mattered more than our business.”

On September 8, 2014, At the age of 93, the world lost a great man who, with his infectious energy and devout leadership, created a legacy that will forever be the hallmark of his beloved franchise.  

Each time I get the opportunity to connect with a member of Chick-fil-A’s leadership team, I see and hear Cathy’s influence — and Dee Ann Turner is no exception.  Her first book, It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and A Compelling Culture, distills her three decades of leadership experiences at Chick-fil-A into practical tips that any size business can implement to create a more engaging workplace culture.  Pay particular attention to how she landed her first job at the chicken headquarters.

Here’s what we discuss:

  • What it takes to land a corporate job at Chick-fil-A

  • The recipe that makes Chick-fil-A a magnet for leadership talent

  • The power of principles and how they cascade down the organization

  • The difference between sustaining talent and retaining talent

  • Is the modern notion of a lifetime career at Chick-fil-A wishful thinking?

  • The two leadership traits that distinguish Chick-fil-A leaders

  • What she learned from founder C. Truett Cathy