Mark Miller embodies the heart of the entire Chik-fil-A organization. And Miller’s new book, “The HEART of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow” is the epitome of a powerful parable with the potential to positively change lives.
Miller has a long tenure of practicing first what he later preaches to others. With a track record of thirty plus years of service with the trademark chicken sandwich chain, Miller pours out his deepest wisdom to create his best book yet. Self admittedly, this is Millers most exciting work and one that, like him, I believe can truly impact a generation of emerging leaders.
Similar to Blake, the story’s main character, I too am a young and aspiring leader who has experienced a fair degree of leadership success. These wins, however did not come without a cost and certainly not without their difficult challenges, crisis situations, and tests of competencies. But as the young businessman in the book had to learn, I too had to arrive at the conclusion, early in my career, that leadership is not a title, promotion, or even an opportunity to be given. Instead, the heart of leadership lies in a set of specific character traits that are developed over time and ultimately for the betterment of others.
In the opening section, Miller explains that leaders are different. And furthermore that leadership character is distinct from basic character traits. Every decent person should at least be expected to have some element of honesty, perhaps a little character, and hopefully a knack for telling the truth. Unfortunately, as anyone who has even the slightest experience in the real world will tell you, these elementary assumptions about integrity among corporate personnel are not always present. Neither the nonprofit nor public sectors are any better off than the ego driven and selfish personalities, common of private organizations.
As Blake learns through the mentoring of Debbie Brewster, whom we originally met in Miller’s first book “The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do” as well as a cast of other sage leaders from various industries, the heart of leadership is the rhythmic beat that brings life to great leadership.
So what is this heart of leadership? At the center of it all, Miller explains that leadership HEART is a combination of five characteristics: a hunger for wisdom, expecting the best, accepting responsibility, responding with courage and thinking of others first. If you were only able to begin learning one of these outstanding traits, it is suggested that you begin with thinking of others first, for it will bring transformation to every relationship you’re involved with –whether just casual or intimately committed.
Some of my favorite leadership quotes from the book include: “There is more to leadership than great individual work” (p. 4), “The servant leader constantly works to help others win” (p. 27), “The future has not yet been written –it is written by leaders” (p.46) and “Leadership character, like other character traits, once established, is hard to hide” (p. 66).
One would do well to read this short story, apply its principles, and begin imparting the truths contained within it on the “Blakes” in their lives. In fact, I have already given a copy to one of the young men I am discipling.
Definitely worth your time reading, but the real value is gained only if you apply the treasure of content.