“You can’t sell from an empty wagon.”
That statement from Jimmy Collins, Chick-fil-A’s former chief operating officer (and my supervisor), has always stuck with me.
Usually, Jimmy directed this observation toward the Chick-fil-A operator family around the realities of being ready for business: having proper inventory, properly trained talent, and an “on-stage” attitude all the time. You can never be successful if your “wagon” is not stocked and ready to go.
But while this might be a powerful picture of a business that’s prepared operationally, I also learned from Jimmy and Chick-fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy, that “you can’t lead out of an empty wagon” either. No organization’s culture will be any stronger than the values, philosophies and, if genuine, the faith of its leader or leaders.
Is there a clear “why” for the business’s existence? Are there strong values that become motivations and filters for decision-making? And if the “why” is rooted in the genuine faith of the leader, then it will impact his or her decisions and behaviors.