Tuesday, December 6, 2011

SERVE: See the Future

One of the books that I've just read is The Secret by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller. It's a book written with the purpose of disclosing the "secret" of becoming a great servant leader. It's written in story-form and is very easy to read (and it's short), so I highly suggest picking it up.

One of the concepts The Secret teaches is the concept of SERVE. It's an acronym that stands for five things. In five separate posts, I will unpack each concept and how the concept applies to our lives. In this post, we'll look at the letter S.

S stands for See the Future.

See the Future

If you are a leader, you have a responsibility to plan, look ahead, and to try to anticipate the future. It is your job to set goals and objectives for your team to aspire to meet. And once that goal is met, it's your job to figure out where to set the next goal. The purpose of these goals are to set expectations for growth and motivation for hard work.

At Chick-fil-A, we have certain goals for our Drive-Thru. We had this one goal of getting one hundred cars through the Drive-Thru in just one hour. That would mean each car would spend less than 30 seconds in line after ordering, and that we'd have to have enough cars come through the Drive-Thru. This isn't easy an easy task, but each individual was very motivated to accept the challenge. Why? Because the first team to get one hundred cars would be awarded with $100.

This goal was met a few weeks ago. The people who worked Drive-Thru that hour were awarded with the $100 because they reached the goal. They worked really hard and they had enough cars, so they were able to meet the quota, and then some. They actually got 105 cars that hour! The results of that were an improved Drive-Thru and we're now getting more cars through the Drive-Thru on average than ever before. Because our Operator could See the Future and set that goal, the entire restaurant benefited. If you want to be a servant leader, you have to set goals for your team to strive for. But there's more to it than that. As a leader, you have to be passionate and excited about the future. In the words of The Secret, "If you aren't passionate about something out there in the future - if it doesn't fire you up and get you out of bed in the morning - you can bet your team is not going to be passionate either."

One other responsibility of being a leader is you have to set core values that your team shares and can be passionate about. Chick-fil-A is another great example of this. Chick-fil-A's Mission Statement is: Be the best quick-service restaurant in America. Our Corporate Purpose is: 1) To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us, and 2) To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A. These three values drive all that Chick-fil-A does as a company. But the thing is, someone had to come up with these values. Someone had to take the time, sit down, think for a long time, and decide what values would guide the company. That's what the leaders of Chick-fil-A did, and if you're a leader, it's what you should do, too. In the words of The Secret, "Values are a big deal. They are the cornerstones of the culture the leader is trying to create. Remember this: Our values are the beliefs that drive our behavior."

Okay, I know what you're thinking. "What do core values have to do with See the Future?" Allow me to explain with an example. If you're a team captain on the basketball team, you can't expect everyone to make 90% on their free throws at the start of the season. That's expecting too much (something I'll elaborate on in the next post). Acknowledge that at the beginning, your teammates will most likely shoot a lower percentage than what you want. So what should you do to get the team's percentage to where it needs to be? By hard work and practice. Take it step by step. Set small goals to keep a steady rate of improvement. When an individual hits the goal of 50%, raise it to 60%. And so on until you read 90%. All of this comes back to the team's values. If no one values hard work and practice, no one would improve. The team and each individual must value hard work and dedication for the goal to become reality. A servant leader will set values for his or her team. If you don't set values, it's almost impossible to reach your goals.

Another part of Seeing the Future is trying to anticipate obstacles that you might encounter and planning ahead for obstacles you know you will encounter. Maybe you've heard the expression, "I'm praying for the best, but planning for the worst." That's just another part of Seeing the Future: anticipate obstacles. If you want to be a servant leader and serve others as best as possible, you'd do well to try to identity future obstacles and begin preparation to overcome them.

I am trying to become the best servant leader I can be at Chick-fil-a, and in all areas of my life. The first step to doing this is See the Future. Set goals, set values, and anticipate obstacles. That is the S in SERVE. In my next post, we'll look at the first E in SERVE.

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