5 Leadership Lessons From Chick-fil-A’s VP of Enterprise Social Responsibility

Dee Ann Turner loves what she does. As a 30-year veteran of Chick-fil-A, Dee Ann serves the chicken franchise as vice president of enterprise social responsibility, navigating everything from energy to waste management. In her role, Dee Ann has the opportunity to make people’s lives better every day, which is what she loves most.

When Dee Ann started at Chick-fil-A three decades ago, she knew from the start that she wanted to be part of the company for as long as they would have her. It never crossed her mind that 30 years later she would be writing a book on the famous phrase used by every one of its employees: "It's My Pleasure."

For Dee Ann, the famous phrase changed her life. In fact, while she wrote the book about it, two of the most influential people in her life—her father and Truett Cathy—died within a year of one another. Writing helped her work through her grief.

In an effort to pay their leadership forward, Dee Ann shares five of the biggest leadership lessons she learned during her 30 years at Chick-fil-A.

1. Pay attention to whom you give responsibility.
Dee Ann believes that the decisions we make about people and the roles they will play, in our personal or professional lives, is an important part of leadership.

2. Value people over projects.
When making decisions, Dee Ann says we have to put people first. One of the lessons that Dee Ann absorbed from Truett Cathy was that people matter. He would routinely say, "We are not in the chicken business, we are in the people business." That’s servant leadership at its finest.

3. But don’t lose yourself to others.
Serve others, yes, but don’t lose yourself. Dee Ann believes that in order for leaders to focus on their goals they have to remember they can't be all things to all people.

4. Have a personal vision.
In order to reach your goals in life and be part of something bigger than yourself, focusing on your personal vision is crucial, says Dee Ann. She admits that it can be very difficult to stay focused as a leader with so many things that come our way.

5. Know that character matters most.
The best gift we can give to ourselves and to those around us is to make sure that we are consistent with our character, says Dee Ann. In the end, character is our true daily confession to ourselves and to others.


*Contributor Maina Mwaura is a freelance writer and speaker based in Atlanta, who loves anything dealing with leadership. He is also the husband of Tiffiney and has a 5-year-old daughter named Zyan. Connect with Maina at mainaspeaks.com.

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