By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – What does leadership look like?
According to the speakers at Friday’s 11th annual Chick-fil-A Leadercast, it’s everything from giving throwaway people a voice to feeling a great obligation to the people who work for you to being willing to try and fail. But it’s always about change.
The Leadercast is Chick-fil-A’s annual live broadcast of a leadership conference in Atlanta. This year, it drew a nationwide audience of some 80,000 people, including almost 100 people to FNC Inc. in Oxford – Northeast Mississippi’s only simulcast site for the event.
Leadercast presented a team of well-known thinkers and doers. John Maxwell, author of “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” described five levels from position leadership, in which people grudgingly follow because of obligation, to pinnacle, in which followers act out of deep respect.
“Leadership is an always-ongoing, always-learning, always-growing process,” he said.
Author Seth Godin said the assembly-line model of interchangeable parts and people is fading fast.
“Management is getting your employees to do what they did yesterday, only faster and cheaper … making sure there are no fires,” he said. “Leadership involves being surprised by the people who work for you, because they go farther than you ever could have expected.”
A conversation between CEOs Muhtar Kent of Coca-Cola and Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-A yielded a wealth of insights. One that Cathy emphasized was the cooperative nature of his company’s relationship with Coke – and his personal and family friendship with Kent.
“What makes our partnership much more than a supplier-buyer relationship … requires us to have a collaborative, win-win relationship,” Cathy said.
Kent noted the crucial nature of business’ responsibility to society.
“Consumers … are wanting to vote not only for good-looking, good-tasting products, but they’re also voting for the companies whose values they admire,” he said. “A good brand is a promise kept.”
Financial author and talk-show host Dave Ramsey outlined five elements that matter in his business – people, an excellent team, a slow-and-steady approach, fiscal conservatism and a higher calling.
“Business has got to be worth the struggle,” he said. “You won’t go against the conventional wisdom unless you have a higher calling.”
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.