Impress at a Distance, Impact up Close

Are you using servant leadership to impact others?

Summary
Transcript

Glen Jackson, co-founder of marketing communications agency Jackson Spalding, explains that the best leaders know how to impress people at a distance, and have an impact on them in one-on-one situations.

“The best leaders, when they're at an event and they speak or they're doing something at a distance, people are watching them,” explains Glen. “That's impressing at a distance. And then you get up close with someone. You spend time with someone. You invest in them and you impact them.”

Watch the video to hear more from Glen about impressing at a distance and impacting up close, and discover why he looked to Truett Cathy of Chick-fil-A as an example of this.

Leaders impress at a distance and impact up close. Remember that because the best leaders, when they're at an event and they speak or they're doing something at a distance, people are watching them. And they say, "She's impressive. I heard her speak. I heard her ask that question. That was impressive." That's impressing at a distance.

And then you get up close with someone. You spend time with someone. You invest in them and you impact them. The best leaders impress at a distance and impact up close.

Someone who impressed at a distance for me and, to a certain degree, impacted me up close was Truett Cathy of Chick-fil-A. I got to watch him from a distance and I got to meet him a couple of times, and he was always curious about me and what I was doing. I met him, we just started a business in 1995. I went on my first business trip to Washington, D.C., as a 31-year-old co-founder of a business, Jackson Spalding, in 1995. And of course, aspirationally, we wanted to work for Chick-fil-A.

And Truett was on the plane heading to Ronald Reagan Airport where we landed. And I was at the bathroom at baggage claim washing my hands and he walked in to wash his. And he was right next to me. And I looked at him and I said, "It's easier to succeed than to fail." And he looked at me and said, "That's right." He said, "You're right." And he thanked me for speaking to him and then he gave me a Be Our Guest card, which you give at Chick-fil-A to have a free chicken sandwich, and it has his name on it. And I put that card in my wallet and I kept it in my wallet for almost 10 years until we worked for Chick-fil-A.

But that's not the end of the story. We go over to baggage claim and I looked over and he was helping a young lady, who was pregnant, about six months pregnant, with all her luggage, got her on the pushcart, a little cart you have at the airport. And she thanked him, had no idea it was Truett. And he said, "My pleasure."

And that reminded me that what great servant leaders do is no task is too small or too big for the servant leader. He's helping someone like that at an airport and then he went on to give a major speech at the Washington Press Club that afternoon, and he met with the White House next year. No task was too small for Truett. No task was too big for him. They were the same. He impressed at a distance, and he impacted up close, starting with me many, many years ago.
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Glen Jackson

Glen Jackson co-founded Jackson Spalding in 1995. He provides leadership for the agency, many of its clients and organizations looking for inspiration. He has special expertise in real estate, professional services, crisis communicat...

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