I recently heard a story from a Chick-fil-A board meeting that may be a nice springboard for leadership at SAGE. Back in the 90’s there was a company called Boston Chicken that eventually changed their name to Boston Market. They were Chick-fil-A’s first competition in the chicken restaurant world. Boston Market had significant expansion plans.
As the story goes, the Chick-fil-A team was a little nervous about their competition. They began to have discussions about how to grow bigger and how to grow faster. The strategies landed in a board room at Chick-fil-A with many of their leaders and marketing folks debating about how they could grow faster and bigger to stave off Boston Market.
Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, was in attendance at the meeting. He was very quiet and seemed disengaged during the strategy sessions. Finally, Mr. Cathy must have heard enough. He said, “Gentlemen, I am sick and tired of hearing you talk about us getting bigger!” And then he paused. He said, “What we need to be talking about is getting BETTER!”
Here is his leadership principle we can learn from: “If we get better, then our customers will demand we get bigger.” That statement shifted the entire conversation of the meeting and the strategy for Chick-fil-A. Not coincidentally, in the year 2000, Boston Market actually filed for bankruptcy. That same year Chick-fil-A hit a billion dollars in sales for the very first time.
I couldn't help but apply this principle to SAGE. We have experienced substantial growth over the past year...to the tune of 148% growth. We are getting bigger, but are we better? I think yes. We are seeing increased member engagement, and--perhaps most telling--SAGE members are introducing their colleagues to SAGE membership. The SAGE webinar series is just one example of our pursuit of "better". Every month, more and more Great Minds are Learning with SAGE. The SAGE board is committed to growth in membership numbers, but more importantly, in membership value! We encourage all members to contact us with their ideas for making SAGE better.
We can also apply this leadership/strategic principle to each of our roles in the marketplace. If we get better at what we do, we will get bigger. The higher the quality of service and products we provide, the more our influence will expand beyond where we are today.
In closing, I am going to re-create an over-used phrase. Instead of "go big or go home", let's Get Better, Get Bigger and then Go Home to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Image: By FotoosVanRobin from Netherlands (Crispy Chicken Strips) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons