Book Review: Creative Followership


As often as possible, I love to study Chick-fil-A.  I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of their food…but I am a huge fan of their vision and their servant leadership.  As a result of that, I’ve intentionally chosen some CFA items that I can look forward to so that I can go there often and learn more about excellent service.  Just this evening our family ate at the Acworth CFA and I had the best time talking with Pamela, one of the managers, as she was telling me about how things have been going in the store over the summer.  Several of my students from school work at our CFA and it is always a blast to see them in their element serving others.

I picked up Creative Followership by Jimmy Collins, the retired President of Chick-fil-A.  This book provided a great look into the relationship between Jimmy Collins and CFA Founder Truett Cathey.  What a remarkable partnership these two men had for over 30 years!  Collins was making the point about realizing that it’s not always about being out in front…sometimes the Lord is calling us to be faithful in a support role…doing the things that our boss doesn’t like to do or something that might not be at the top of their skill set.  That was a great reminder to me in my role as a principal as I serve our Head of School.  I am not the face/spokesperson of our school.  I have lots of opportunities to lead and to be out front, but when it comes down to the big things, I defer to his leadership and want to always be a person that supports our Head in his role.  God has taught me a lot as a leader while also being a follower.

I highlighted several things while reading and posted those notes below…

  • He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who cares for his master will be honored.  Proverbs 27:18
  • Being a follower is an active role requiring a great deal of creativity, personal initiative, and the ability to execute tasks with excellence.
  • A follower is someone who has chosen a leader.
  • A leader is someone who has followers.
  • “An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • If you started looking for a boss today, what questions would you ask?  What are the critical, nonnegotiable qualities on which you will not compromise?
  • A boss is someone with authority, whereas a leader is someone with followers joined to the leader via a unifying purpose.
  • The very best leaders make us feel as if we are in control.
  • Do what your boss does not like to do.
  • “It is better to restrain mustangs than kick mules.” Jimmy Collins
  • The follower who has made the boss look good and has done the things the boss does not like to do—or does not do well—eventually finds herself in a position to influence where the whole organization is going.
  • An effective leader will constantly reassure those in the organization that bringing negative feedback is a risk-free process.
  • “At Chick-fil-A, we want to constantly improve.  What could we do to make your meal more enjoyable?”
  • Do not be easily discouraged.
  • As you learn Creative Followership and grow in your relationship with your leader, you will get opportunities that other employees may not have.
  • Avoid executive privilege.

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