Industry News | May 22, 2006

Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy Addresses Spirit Awards Recipients

Every year, the NRA Educational Foundation awards industry leaders with its Spirit awards to recognize “innovative programs in workforce development leading to employee satisfaction.” At the awards breakfast this morning, recipients and supporters were treated to an encouraging message from one of the industry’s most recognized leaders, Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A.

In his 60th year in the restaurant business, Cathy told the audience that everything in business (and life in general for that matter) comes down to people.

“The greatest influence we have on people is who we are,” Cathy said.

Chick-fil-A’s success is grounded in principles that find their roots in biblical teaching, Cathy says. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is more than a quaint ideal; it makes for a successful business.

For example, closing on Sundays is, in reality, a good business practice. Cathy says the day of rest allows his employees to get a fresh start every week, thereby increasing employee satisfaction. In addition, Chick-fil-A is able to recruit high quality employees who might otherwise not enter the quick-service industry because of religious services on Sundays or the desire to spend time with family on the weekends.

In addition to his own principled leadership, Cathy says that his job is made easy by surrounding himself with high quality people. When testifying before Congress recently about business ethics, Cathy told congressional leaders that there is no such thing as business ethics, only personal ethics. The key to hiring the right people is not how they will act in business but how they act in life.

Cathy’s philosophy has proven effective. In his 60 years, Chick-fil-A has grown from a small diner in Georgia to the second largest chicken quick-serve restaurant in the country. There must be a lot of good people out there.

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