Unlocking Uncommon Greatness With Mark Miller


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Episode Overview:

"Unlocking Uncommon Greatness with Mark Miller" is a podcast series hosted by Skot Waldron, featuring insightful conversations with Mark Miller, a leadership expert, best-selling author, and Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. In this podcast, Miller shares his wealth of experience and wisdom, delving into topics such as leadership, personal growth, and unlocking one's full potential. Listeners are treated to practical advice, inspiring anecdotes, and valuable lessons gleaned from Miller's extensive career, offering a roadmap for achieving uncommon greatness in both professional and personal realms. Whether you're a seasoned leader or someone aspiring to reach new heights, this podcast provides invaluable insights and strategies for success.

Additional Resources:

* Website

Skot Waldorn (00:00.084)
switch it over, it might pause for just a second. Hold up.

Mark (00:03.47)
All right.

Skot Waldorn (00:18.292)
All right, let's try this one. Good, good. Have you done a Riverside interview before on the Riverside platform? Okay, so if it gets all glitchy, pixelated, it's still recording on your side in high def and whatever. So just kind of roll with it. And at the end, make sure it uploads, you know, when we end click off. I want to respect your time. Usually interviews go around.

Mark (00:21.166)
You look good, you sound good.

Mark (00:26.958)
I have. Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm. Yep.

Mark (00:41.358)
Yep. Got it.

Skot Waldorn (00:47.604)
30 ish minutes, maybe give or take. Um, sometimes we're rolling, we're rolling. Um, so we might just keep it going. So, um, but I want to be respectful for your time. How much time you get? You did. Okay. All right.

Mark (00:49.006)
Okay. Mm -hmm. Yeah.


Mark (00:58.414)
Yeah, I'm good. I'm good. I blocked an hour, so I'm good. And I'll just follow your lead. I will also mention, I'm assuming somebody on my team sent you some questions.

Skot Waldorn (01:06.772)
Mm -hmm.

Skot Waldorn (01:11.22)

Mark (01:12.366)
You can ignore those. We'll talk about any, well, I'll be happy to use, but here's the deal. I don't want you to be restricted by those. We used to never send questions and then so many people asked for questions, we just kind of made it part of the standard. So the adjustment I want to make is here's some questions, but don't feel obligated to use it. I mean, so I want to give you that permission here.

Skot Waldorn (01:14.26)
Oh, okay. All right. Cause they're really good questions, man. I can't wait to ask them.

Skot Waldorn (01:38.676)

Mark (01:42.062)
Yeah, we'll talk about anything you want to talk about.

Skot Waldorn (01:44.98)
Perfect. Well, I want to, I want to talk about your book because I got my copy right here. So, um, I want to talk about that. And, uh, there are some really good questions in here. Like I am interested in the research part of it. Um,

Mark (01:51.822)

Mark (02:00.206)
Okay, yeah, I'll be happy to, yeah, we'll go wherever you wanna go.

Skot Waldorn (02:03.731)
But yeah, man, we'll riff cause, uh, I like to kind of set it up. I like to have these as a like foundation to go off of. And then we just kind of blow it up from there. So cool. Cool. Um, question. So, um, did you, so you worked, you worked at Chick -fil -A for a long time. Are you, are you familiar with giant worldwide Jeremy Kubitschek, Steve Cochran, those guys? Oh, do you? Yeah.

Mark (02:07.406)
Mm -hmm.

Mark (02:11.246)
Yeah, and I'll just I'll follow your lead.

Mark (02:27.278)
I did. I know Jeremy personally. Yeah, I knew him when he was in Atlanta, right before he moved. I guess he moved to London, then he moved to Oklahoma. Is that the way it worked? I think. Yeah. So how do you know? How do you know Jeremy?

Skot Waldorn (02:36.212)
Yep. Yep. Yeah, that's where he is. So I'm a giant. Um, so I, I know giant, I mean, I got familiar with them probably seven years ago or so, six years ago. Um, and then through, uh, I don't know if you know, Chris Edgar, he's in Swanny. Um, he's, he's, he was, he's been with, he's been, he was roommates with Jeremy in college. Um, but, uh, I got to know Chris and then Chris got me into the giant world and.

Mark (02:46.734)
Okay. Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

Mark (02:53.998)
Yeah, I don't know that I've met Chris.

Mark (03:00.878)

Skot Waldorn (03:05.396)
I did a lot of brand strategy work, um, for a long time and, uh, thing got to know Chris and Chris got me in. So I, I do this work now. So.

Mark (03:12.942)
Okay. Well, I knew, I knew, uh, it was introduced to Jeremy because I knew John Maxwell, uh, and still do. I mean, John wrote the forward to my first book 25 years ago. I was part of the million leader mandate with John. We, we did the first city together, which was Mumbai, India, uh, the first of 192 countries. You know, I was, I was there with John for that. So.

Skot Waldorn (03:21.716)
Yeah, OK.

Skot Waldorn (03:33.62)
Oh wow.

Mark (03:40.27)
Uh, it was in that transition with Jeremy that we were, you know, we were introduced and then, and then Chick -fil -A sponsored the leader cast for a long time. And so again, our paths crossed for years. All that. Oh, for sure. All that, all that.

Skot Waldorn (03:40.34)
Very cool.

Okay. And then.

Skot Waldorn (03:53.236)
And catalysts and all that, all that. Okay. I figured the leadership circle in Atlanta is pretty small. So everybody knows everybody in this world. So, um, I did, I did some work with John, uh, mostly the John Maxwell company. Um, when I own, I own my branding agency and we did a lot of work with John Maxwell company and relaunched John's personal website and some of the work he was doing there, but launched a lot of his products too. Um,

Mark (04:01.646)
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Mark (04:21.39)
Mm -hmm. Yeah.

Skot Waldorn (04:22.26)
And then worked with his, uh, with equip and the nonprofit space and did a lot of work with them and. Yep.

Mark (04:25.742)
Mm hmm. Yep. That's where we did the million leader mandate. And yeah, you yeah. So yeah, we know we know some of the same people for sure. We do indeed. Yeah. Have you have you made the trek to pebble for the leadership open?

Skot Waldorn (04:33.908)
Cool. We do. We do. This is really cool. Very cool.

Skot Waldorn (04:45.108)
Mmm. I am not that fortunate. No, I have not. I have not. Is that -

Mark (04:49.262)
Yeah, once a year, it's a fundraising deal for Equip and they do it at Pebble. I've been a couple times, I did not go last year, but yeah, I've been doing it for about 15 years.

Skot Waldorn (04:53.652)

Skot Waldorn (04:58.932)
Oh, that's cool. Yeah. Yeah. They've been doing it for awhile. Um, yeah, it's really cool. We did, um, John had some, an initiative he was doing where he was working a lot with South American leaders on a project with, um, called I lead and I choose and did some high school curriculum for them. And we developed a lot of that content, um, and worked on that. Yeah. He is. Okay. Good. Yeah.

Mark (05:20.878)
Yep. Yep. Yeah. He's still doing a lot of that and Mark Cole, you know, Mark Cole, I'm assuming. Yeah. Mark's kind of assuming more and more responsibility for all of that stuff. So, yeah.

Skot Waldorn (05:33.044)
Yep. Yep. That's good. Yeah. He keeps, I don't know. I don't mean Mark and John are like joined at the hip. So it's a, they they've been doing a lot of stuff together for a long time. It's been really, really good getting to know those people. Very, very good. So, well, um, thanks a lot again for being on. We'll just, uh, kind of keep rolling here. Internet seems somewhat stable. It's kind of pausing at times, but it's, it's still rolling on my end. So. Okay. Cool. Cool. Cool. All right, man. Well, um,

Mark (05:43.374)
Yeah, they have.


Mark (05:56.718)
Yeah, you look good. You look good to me. So let's do it.

Skot Waldorn (06:03.86)
Anything, how can I serve you on the interview? What, what, what's the initiative that I can help you with right now?

Mark (06:07.854)

Yeah, we're, I mean, we're, we're talking about the new book because it's the new book. Um, and so just the opportunity to do that is fantastic. Uh, if it's appropriate either during our time or in your show notes, I usually give folks my contact info. And then that's about the end of it. So we're not, we're not, you know, we're, we're not pitching a product or a specific service. We are trying to serve leaders. And so when we can get our name.

and contact info in front of them. That's always good. Yeah.

Skot Waldorn (06:43.796)
Cool. Very, very cool. Well, good. Well, I know my audience will be served well by you. Um, you've got a lot to give, so let's, let's roll it. All right. You ready?

Mark (06:51.118)
Let's jump in. Yep.

Skot Waldorn (06:57.94)
Hey Mark, good to have you man.

Mark (06:59.214)
Hey, Scott, thanks for the opportunity.

Skot Waldorn (07:02.004)
It's, uh, it's been good catching up with you a little bit before the show. We, uh, realize that we know some of the same people in the same world. And I was looking at the back cover and looking at some of the endorsements on your book. Um, Jesse Cole, uh, from Savannah bananas. I just met him. A few weeks ago in Greenville, cause we were speaking at the same event and we went out to dinner together. Yeah, he is a good dude. I was just like, huh?

Mark (07:20.078)

Mark (07:23.758)
He's a maniac. I love him. Yeah. Yeah.

Skot Waldorn (07:31.476)
this guy's crazy. So I was just like, that's that's fun.

Mark (07:31.598)
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We brought him in in 2023 to speak at our annual event for all the chicken people, about 10 ,000 folks for three and a half days. And he was one of our keynotes and our people loved him.

Skot Waldorn (07:48.5)
Oh, very cool. Um, Heather Younger was actually a guest on my podcast, probably a year and a half ago, something so super cool. You get around like you get around. And then Ryan Hawk was just on my show. Probably end of last year, maybe beginning of this year, something I, I, I told him officially. I said, can, can you.

Mark (07:56.846)
Okay, yeah, you get around, man.

Mark (08:10.67)
Okay? Okay?

Skot Waldorn (08:17.3)
actually have a name like Hawk and not be cool. Like. Yes. Yeah, that's one of the reasons he's on the show. It's easy to get you new authors on the show, because it's just like not that you're a new author, new book. We'll say that. But yeah, Ryan Ryan was great, great interview. Confident, but had a lot of value to add so.

Mark (08:21.038)
Well, yeah, well, he's cool. And you know, he just released a new book. I don't know if you know that and it's doing well. Yeah.

Mark (08:33.262)
That's right. Sure, sure.

Skot Waldorn (08:43.956)
Really cool. So you're endorsed by some good people, man. So good people. Not to mention all the legacy of people that you've worked with. Give us some background really quick on you and why you have like gotten to the space you're at right now.

Mark (08:47.79)
Well, thanks.

Mark (09:00.974)
Okay. Big question, long story. I'll hit it quickly. I started selling chicken about a hundred years ago is the way I start my story. I was a team member, an hourly team member in a Chick -fil -A restaurant in 1970 something. And it didn't go well. I made a strategic career decision and I quit because here was the rationale of a child. I said,

it would be better to leave than to have to explain the rest of my life why I got fired at Chick -fil -A. So I literally just quit because I was just awful in the restaurant. I went and got another job. Six months later, I got laid off and I thought I need a job and I really can't do what they do in the restaurant. Maybe I can work at their corporate headquarters, which of course makes no sense in any universe. But I walked in and told the receptionist I wanted a job working in their warehouse.

And she told me to have a seat, which I thought was a great sign. She didn't call security. I didn't know they didn't have security, but just a few minutes later, Truett Cathy came out, the founder of Chick -fil -A, the guy who invented the chicken sandwich, took me into his office to conduct that interview, which confused me as a child. I knew he was the CEO. I'm thinking, why is he even talking to me? Well, I didn't learn that day, but I later learned he only had 15 employees on the corporate staff. And I was interviewing to be number 16.

And I tell people it was a combination of God's grace and lack of discernment on Truett's part. He gave me that job working in the warehouse. I got to work in the mail room too. I got to wear two hats and that was in 1978. And so I spent almost 45 years having trouble holding down a job at Chick -fil -A, worked all over the business. Some of it in the early days, I really think had nothing to do with my skills. It was a little bit of let the kid do it, let the kid do it.

I mean, I started our corporate communications group when I was 19, might've just turned 20, but at that age, ended up starting our quality and customer satisfaction group, et cetera, et cetera, worked in restaurant operations, led our training group, started our leadership development group, and so forth and so on. So, none of that necessarily qualifies me to be with you today, but there was a turning point. I would call it a defining moment in my life and my leadership, and it was about...

Mark (11:20.206)
25 years ago when we realized we didn't have enough leaders. And we won't go into that unless you want to probe that, but we didn't have enough leaders. I'm not sure that's ever happened. Yeah, corporate, yeah, corporate, nor in the restaurants. And we said, we need more leaders. And you know, when you've got a problem to solve and an opportunity to seize, it's pretty common to put a leader on it. Well, we looked at our bench and said, uh -oh.

Skot Waldorn (11:30.324)
Well, at Chick -fil -A, you're saying you didn't have enough? Okay.

Mark (11:45.614)
And so in the short term, what do you do? You give those problems and opportunities to existing leaders. But I give full credit to our executive committee. They had the foresight to realize that's a recipe for disaster long -term. And so they asked me to figure out how to accelerate leadership development. That was about 25 years ago. And I put together a team of really smart people. And that was really, again, a defining moment when we began.

to study in depth the principles and practices that helped leaders grow. And we've now done a dozen projects over the last 25 years where we're trying to identify the near term and midterm issues that we anticipate will be facing our leaders and leaders around the world. We put together a team, we do the research, we try to...

to figure out what is true and what's relevant and what's timeless. We contextualize it, we make it approachable, we make it applicable, and we walk away with a point of view and we've written books on all of those so that we can share that knowledge, not only within Chick -fil -A, but with leaders around the world. And so that's what I've done for the last 45 years. That's it, that's it, that's it. Well, and we sold some chicken along the way.

Skot Waldorn (13:04.756)
Is that all? Is that all you've done? Man, and -

Yeah, yes you did.

Mark (13:10.894)
When I left Chick -fil -A, I just recently retired, although that's kind of exaggerated. I tell folks I've moved into my second half and I'm going to run up the score, but I'm not on the Chick -fil -A payroll any longer. But when I left Chick -fil -A, we were, we hit $20 billion that year. So we did sell a lot of chicken along.

Skot Waldorn (13:31.348)
That is a lot of chicken. I mean, you talk about going from 75 restaurants to 2 ,700 and, and that, and I mean, that is, I mean, you look at the story. I mean, just the Cathy story is just insane. You know, um, that, that whole growth story is incredible. And, and just interacting with the, uh, you know, the Chick -fil -A people that I've interacted with, whether it's been in a leadership front or just going into.

Mark (13:32.718)
That's a lot of chicken.

Mark (13:44.75)
It's fantastic. Yeah. Yeah.

Skot Waldorn (13:57.492)
buy some food. It's there's there's a different feel there. And I think everybody knows it and either people love it or they hate it, you know, and it's their brand is their brand. Oh, a lot of people love it. Trust me, man. Every time I try to go get a milkshake, I'm like, I'm not waiting that line. Like, you know, there's always that but they figured out how to make the line move faster too. So I give them credit for that. Did you come up with that how to make the line move faster? Did you do that?

Mark (13:58.894)
Mm -hmm.

Mark (14:07.182)
A lot of people love it.

Ha ha.

Mark (14:21.742)
That's good.

No, no, we have all worked on moving the line faster. Uh, yeah, we, yeah. Yeah. No, I do not. I don't get credit for anything except pulling on the rope along with everybody else.

Skot Waldorn (14:28.308)
Okay. All right. I'm just checking if you get credit for that or not.

Skot Waldorn (14:36.116)
There you go. Pull the rope, man. Pull the rope. All right. So you've got a new book, um, out and you have, uh, you know, join the ranks and associated and rub shoulders with the likely likes of like John Maxwell, who's written 4 ,000 books by now. And you know, Ken Blanchard, who's written about 3 ,000 and 800 books, but like these guys have, have made an impact on the world. You actually, um, coauthored one with Ken, uh,

Mark (14:57.134)
Mm -hmm, mm -hmm.

Skot Waldorn (15:05.012)
back in the day, which is pretty cool. Um, this book, um, uncommon greatness. I got my copy right here. Um, first of all, tell me about the title. So uncommon greatness. What's the difference between uncommon greatness and common greatness in your eyes? Like, why did you throw that on the, on the cover?

Mark (15:12.558)

Mark (15:23.566)
Well, I think that there are a lot of leaders, you might even say at some level, all leaders are chasing greatness. And I don't think that's fundamentally bad. However, I know countless leaders who would say they have attained some level of success, achievement, greatness, and found it unfulfilling. That it was not life -giving.

It didn't bring them joy. It's the old, old tale of climbing a ladder only to realize when you get to the top that it's leaning against the wrong wall. And so we're trying to set a higher standard and we've chosen to call it uncommon greatness. And it's not focused on the achiever. It's focused on helping others achieve. It's not something fleeting. It's something enduring.

And it's really a question of intent and motivation. And so the question then, why is that on the cover? Because we think there is a higher standard and those are the most effective leaders over time, those that are chasing that higher standard. But then the question immediately from folks that'll think about what I just said, well, how do you make the shift? How do you...

How do you transcend common greatness? How do you move the ladder? Well, the book is built on the premise that there's only one way to do that, and it's to pursue uncommon leadership. And so we've outlined five fundamentals that we think will put any leader on the right path, on the right wall.

So that when you get to wherever you get, you realize that it has been fulfilling. It has been enriching. You have created something that is going to endure. And so that's really what we hope and dream for leaders around the world.

Skot Waldorn (17:35.604)
cool is, um, you start off the book talking about the matrix and, and Neo. Um, and it goes into what I believe is your philosophy of leadership and, and that, can you, can you give us a little rundown really quick of that and what, and now that leads into what you believe about, about leaders.

Mark (17:58.99)
Sure. Sure. Well, again, at the very highest level, if you remember the scene when Morpheus is talking to Neo and he's saying the red pill, the blue pill, it's like, if you can choose to believe what you believe, or you can choose to be exposed to the truth. And we just said, we're going to build this book on truth and leaders have to choose. Leaders have to decide. And so it's a...

It's a daunting question, but it's one that I hope by pointing it, by making it so pointed, I hope there aren't many listeners or readers that would say, no, I don't want to know the truth. Because if you don't want to know the truth, you're never going to lead to your full potential. The best leaders confront reality. That's from some other work we did. But again, that might be a blinding flash of the obvious. If you're not leading from a position of truth,

You'll never fulfill your potential nor will you ever help others achieve their potential. You gotta start with what's true.

Skot Waldorn (19:05.78)
Well, let's be honest. I mean, there's, there's some people that don't want to know the truth. Um, you know, and, and I'm sure you've experienced in your leadership journey and I've experienced it in mine and coaching and, and whatnot. And there's some people that are resistant to that. So what is that about?

Mark (19:20.366)
Well, there are any number of things. And, and, um, I wrote about that in a, in another book, we were, we were trying to help leaders improve their effectiveness. We published under the title of smart leadership. And we realized that that is the first impediment to improving your effectiveness. And it's a choice. Do you choose to confront reality or not?

What's it about? I'm not a psychologist. I mean, I wrote a chapter on potential reasons, you know, fear, insecurity, I mean, any number of reasons that a leader might not want to know what's true, but what they've done in that moment when they, when they choose not to confront reality, if they've chosen to a lesser role, they've chosen to, to lower their influence and their impact.

and their opportunities in the world. And so that is the first of the four choices that we think the best leaders make. You've got to confront reality.

Skot Waldorn (20:26.9)
So if you're insecure, arrogant or prideful, then don't read this book, right? You probably don't want to read it. Yeah.

Mark (20:30.126)
Well, but let me say this. Let me say this. Some of the research we did for this book revealed that the number one impediment to leadership effectiveness as reported by the people who work for you. So we asked this question. I thought it was a creative design. We asked people to rate their leader, but we did that at all levels from front line supervisor, what individual contributor front line supervisor all the way up.

to what's the number one impediment to your leaders effectiveness. And ego came out as number one, unprompted and unaided. Those are the people that probably don't want to read this book.

Or maybe we can confront them with that. Maybe we can inspire them to move past that. But those are the folks that will forever chase common greatness because it's about them. It's about them.

Skot Waldorn (21:30.26)
So that's, that's one piece of the research you, you surveyed over 4 ,000 people in six countries. I mean, that's a lot of data points. Um, it's not like you went out and got like 42 people from like, you know, it was like, there's a lot of people here, man. What's, um, I I'm interested in some of the research, uh, that you, that you've got going on. So give me some more.

Mark (21:37.774)
leaders, right? That, yeah.

Mark (21:43.534)


Mark (21:52.078)
All right. Yeah. Um, a third of the leaders said their organization does not have enough leaders today. Now, and you know that I think that's a big deal. No, no, currently today, enroll in position. We don't have enough to meet the demands of today, a third. And you mentioned John Maxwell, uh, you know, I'm, I'm still a fan of his.

Skot Waldorn (22:03.764)
Upcoming like, like.

Mark (22:20.462)
statement that everything rises and falls on leadership. And if you've got a third of global leaders saying their organizations don't have enough, I think that's a big deal. But I don't think that's as troubling as the follow -up question. 50 % of leaders said they don't anticipate solving the problem for the future. Like, do you anticipate you'll have enough leaders in the future? And 50 % said no.

In the U S 40 % of senior leaders in the U S said, no, they don't have enough, which is we could probably do a whole podcast on that. To me, that is, that is one of the scariest stats I've ever come across because.

Skot Waldorn (23:03.476)
But let me ask you real quick before you go into that, sorry. Well, actually you're going to say something, because what? That's one of the scariest stats, because what?

Mark (23:09.358)
Well, because they're admitting that they have this problem and they're also confessing their inadequacy or inability or unwillingness to address it. It's like, so have they missed even this comment I made a moment ago when you've got a problem to solve or an opportunity to seize in most organizations, you put a leader on it and he or she won't single -handedly

You know, resolve the issue or seize that opportunity, but they'll put a team together and they'll cobble together the resources and they'll cast the vision and they'll, they'll lead to a solution. And, and if, if half the leaders in the world are going, no, we're not going to have enough leaders in the future. It's like that, that, that's weird. It's like, it seems like that'd be the first problem you'd want to solve.

Skot Waldorn (24:07.22)
I, you would think, right? You would think. So I was, I guess that was where it was going to go is so you've got, you know, 50 % of leaders that don't anticipate like fixing this problem. Is that because they don't know how to fix it? Or are they saying, we just can't find any good help these days. Like we don't know how to train these people. Like what, did you figure out what's going on?

Mark (24:08.462)
I mean, it's crazy. It's crazy.

Mark (24:31.982)
Well, well, not really. I mean, it's been very, very elusive. We believe though, the first step to create a leadership culture, which again is another, another topic for another day. But the first thing you've got to do is define it. And we lived through that at Chick -fil -A 25 years ago, I referenced, we went to work trying to figure out how do you accelerate leadership development.

Our first conclusion was we didn't agree on what leadership meant, what it was, what it looked like. Well, all of a sudden you then had every department or every team that had identified or defined their own point of view. And that raises all kinds of questions. Who do you recruit? Who do you select? How do you train them? We had leaders in one department and another department that had a gap and the senior leader.

in the department that had the need wouldn't take the leaders from another department when offered because he said, I don't think they're leaders. Well, because that person had a different paradigm for what a leader was. And so we believe that that first step is to define it. And you can use my definition or anybody else's. You can make up your own. I've actually helped some organizations, some top 50 companies in America create their own definitions.

That's fine, but you got to have one and everybody has to agree to it. So you can get to work about raising up leaders. We add one more question. We learned this from the data. Uh, we asked if your organization, cause I've always felt this might be a root cause of the problem is they don't know what they're trying to do. And we ask senior leaders. If, if your organization teaches a specific point of view on leadership in the U S.

40 % of senior leaders said yes, as I recall. I think that was the right number. Which tells me, okay, that's a problem in and of itself that more than half don't teach a specific point of view. But then we ask frontline supervisors if your organization teaches a specific point of view. And I think that number was 73 % said, I am unaware if we have one.

Skot Waldorn (26:57.044)
Oh, wow. So let's take that number, though. What does that mean? What's the consequence?

Mark (27:04.526)
Okay, what that means, here's what I think that means. And again, I wanna paint with a broad brush here, so I know there's some generalities. But in many, many, many organizations, I would argue far too many, they just take somebody who performs well and says, poof, now you're the leader. They don't know what it means, the organization doesn't tell them what it means, the organization doesn't set expectations, in most organizations there's no training, and if it is training, it's decentralized.

Back to our earlier problem. So in operations, they may teach you here's what a leader does, but in human resources, they teach you that leaders do something else. But again, over 70 % of frontline supervisors are going, I'm not aware that our organization has a specific point of view. So what that means is at best, it's extremely fragmented and it's kind of a DIY, do it yourself, like.

Okay, now I'm the leader. How am I going to figure that out? Well, I can listen to Scott's podcast, which is great. But, but, you know, we are advocates of a scope and sequence. When you send a kid to school, you know, that, that, that little five year old doesn't start with trigonometry or algebra. They start with numbers and then they learn to add and then subtract and divide multiply. You stay at it long enough and you may learn trig and calculus. Most organizations don't have a scope and see.

which is one reason that they don't get more traction with the leadership efforts that they do make available because they're basically random acts of training. And so, yeah, I think the implications are far reaching that organizations don't have a point of view. Now I'm a little bit biased because that's what we discovered our problem was 25 years ago. People's heart, it wasn't a heart issue. It wasn't an intent issue. It wasn't.

It wasn't a lack of commitment to the organization. Leadership had not said, here's what leadership means in this organization. But after we began that work, I remember the day we were sharing our leadership point of view, which is outlined in this book with one tweak. But basically we were introducing what this book is about 25 years ago. That's how long we've been refining this.

Mark (29:25.134)
And I had a senior leader come in. We were talking to new supervisors. We had just introduced the fundamentals and he said he wanted to address the group. And I'm thinking, okay, I hope this will be good. Cause he didn't tell me what he wanted to say. And so he walked in and said, I know you've just been exposed to our point of view on leadership. And he said, I'll, I'll tell you, this wouldn't have been everybody's first choice. And I'm sitting there going, okay, where's this going?

He said, because we've got people on our executive committee that have different thoughts. And I'm paraphrasing, but he said, that's why we're in a mess today. So we have all agreed this is going to be our point of view. And he said, that's not to say you can't learn from other thought leaders. We will always do that, but this is going to be our point of view. And this is the type of leader that we're going to try to train, educate and develop.

for our future. So it worked out good. I wondered where he was going when he said, this isn't the way we would all want to do this. I'm going, oh no, where is this going? Is he going to try to, you know, undercut what we're doing? But in fact, he reinforced it, I think in a very appropriate way, very appropriate.

Skot Waldorn (30:42.868)
Wow. Okay.

Mark (30:43.854)
It's the starting point to create a leadership culture. Just to figure out what it means.

Skot Waldorn (30:48.052)
Yeah. Let me ask you real quick, going back to your definition, what's a leader?

Mark (30:53.518)
Well, we're saying it's a, it's a man or woman that demonstrates those five fundamentals because we wanted a behaviorally based definition. There are far too many out there that are theoretical and academic and conceptual, and they're probably truth in all of them, but we wanted to say, no, no, no leader. Here's how we define it. You do these things. And the outcome of that is labeled or branded as leadership.

Skot Waldorn (30:58.1)

Skot Waldorn (31:20.916)
Okay. So let's, let's hit briefly on, on these five con so see the future.

Mark (31:23.374)
Yeah, real quick.

Mark (31:27.214)
See the future. Yeah. Leadership always begins with a picture of the future. Um, and if, if, if you don't help people answer the question, what are we trying to achieve? What are we trying to become? What are we trying to accomplish? I think I can make a pretty strong case. You're actually not leading. I mean, leaders, leaders supposed to take people and organizations to a preferred future. And so leadership always begins with a picture of a future. I've been asked.

many, many times, is that the most important of the fundamentals? I said, well, so let's flip it over to sports is blocking or tackling a more important fundamental. If you're a football team, you kind of sort of have to do both. So all the fundamentals are important. I would say this is first among equals. Cause if you're not trying to go somewhere, if you're not trying to accomplish something, I'm not sure what you're doing. You might be managing, but I'm not, I'm not really sure what you're doing. You're not leading. If you're not trying to move.

people and organizations towards a preferred future. That's the first fundamental.

Skot Waldorn (32:29.332)
I love it. I love it. I often tell people, uh, leaders, uh, when I'm speaking to a group of them is like, you are all in the business of dealing hope. Like you are hope dealers, all of you. Um, and because that's what you, cause people are going to get discouraged. They're going to feel frustrated. They're going to feel like, what are, where are we going to, what are we doing? And if you aren't able, even for the non future oriented people, even for those present oriented thinkers, the 70.

Mark (32:38.478)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

Mark (32:45.774)

Skot Waldorn (32:57.652)
whatever 3 % of present oriented thinkers, they still want to know we're making progress to do something and impacting somewhere and going to. So if you aren't able to do that, then there's a problem. Um, and.

Mark (33:05.07)

Mark (33:12.046)
which is why it's the first fundamental. Yeah. All right.

Skot Waldorn (33:15.54)
Well said, well said. Okay, number two, engage and develop others.

Mark (33:19.502)
Engage and develop others. You know, you've got to get people to go with you. You've got to get people to care. And we have simplified the whole concept of engagement. Your audience probably knows there's a lot out there on that topic, but we did our own project on engagement a few years back. And we said, we're going to simplify it to this. Engagement is about how much someone cares.

how much they care about their work, how much they care about their coworkers, how much they care about their customers, and how much they care about their organization. And if people don't care, it's gonna be really hard, AKA impossible, to execute, right? I mean, it is essential that you create a workplace where people care. Or if you're leading a nonprofit, it's still a workplace. You've gotta create the context for people to care.

And your audience probably knows that Gallup and ADP and others have been tracking global workforce engagement for decades. Marcus Buckingham, formerly with Gallup now is an ADP and his latest global stat is that only 15 % of the global workforce is fully engaged at work. Talk about an indictment. Now, some people think that's an indictment of the workforce. I argue that it's an indictment on leadership.

because I had the privilege to work in an organization with engagement scores in the nineties. It's possible, but you're not going to drift there. You're not going to drift there. So that's the second fundamental.

Skot Waldorn (34:58.58)
That's, that's powerful. Um, yeah, because you know, you got the vision part, but if nobody's going with you, you know, where are you going? You know, what'd you do? What'd you do? Okay. Yeah.

Mark (35:04.718)
Exactly, exactly. Reference John one more time. If you look behind you and there's nobody back there, you're not leading, you're just out taking a long walk. Yeah, if that's your situation, you need to work on engaging and developing others.

Skot Waldorn (35:17.076)

Skot Waldorn (35:22.58)
This is true. This is true. Um, yeah. Whenever you hear John speak, just a little John side note, it's like you go, I remember one of my employees, the first time she ever heard him speak live. She was like, and she was like, you know, I think she was 26 at the time. She's like, I feel like I want to go like just sit Indian style in front of him while he's speaking. He's like, he's like this soothing, like his voice is like my grandfather's speaking to me and just spreading all kinds of wisdom into.

You know, it's like, it's that kind of thing. So, um, okay. Reinvent continuously.

Mark (35:52.302)
Yep. Yep. He's a good man.

Yeah, reinvent continuously. So here's the deal. Uncommon leaders understand that progress is always preceded by change. I meet far too many leaders. Progress is always preceded by change. I meet too many leaders that think change is a nuisance, it's a burden, it's an obstacle, it's something to be dreaded and avoided.

Skot Waldorn (36:10.356)
Wait wait wait, say that again. Say that again.

Mark (36:27.182)
I would argue if you're trying to move people and organizations to a preferred future, then change is your job. It's change in service of the vision, not just change to change, but change in service to the vision and the mission. That is our job. Cause here's, here's what I tell leaders, your, your current systems, structure, beliefs and behaviors.

are perfectly aligned for the outcomes that you're now enjoying. If you want different outcomes, you're gonna have to change something. And so reinvent continuously is, it's essential. I mean, I don't know, we call it a fundamental. It's like, I wish I had stronger language here. You're not gonna make progress unless you're willing to change stuff.

Skot Waldorn (37:24.02)
Oh, I speak about change a lot, but I've that idea that progress is preceded by change. Like, boom, that's awesome. I love it. I love it.

Mark (37:31.438)
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, and it's a big idea that, that, but the whole concept of reinvent continuously is such a big idea. We give people three hooks to think about, and this is not exhausted, but it'll help you. I think some of your listeners think about reinventing yourself first. What are you learning? How are you growing? What's on your development plan? Speed of the leader, speed of the team.

And you won't have the moral authority to ask others to learn and grow if you're not learning and growing. So reinvent yourself. Always be reinventing something. Second is to reinvent the systems and work processes back to if they're perfectly aligned for the outcomes you're now getting back. We are dealers in hope, but hope is not a strategy for improvement. A leader that tells me they hope sales are going up or they hope profits are going to improve. I'm not betting a nickel on those folks.

I'll always say, I'm glad you're hopeful. What are you going to do more specifically? What are you willing to change? Because what you're doing now is generating the certain level of sales or certain level of profits. And so that's the second domain to consider when you think about reinvention. And then the third is structure. You know, structure should enable not inhibit the work. And we have made.

several structural changes over the years at Chick -fil -A or I should say our restaurant operators have that have, I might argue, doubled or tripled the size of the business. One is most of them have now built leadership teams because the operator realized he or she didn't have enough capacity to, they couldn't scale their leadership alone. And so,

Again, the vast majority, I would say, of the restaurants today have built a leadership team, which is a structural adaptation, which has allowed growth. Another even more tactical, this was probably a decade ago, I think we woke up and realized that we had maybe a billion dollars of sales going through a drive -through window. I mean, cumulative, right? And so we started asking operators, how much of your drive -through window, how much of your sales go through that window?

Mark (39:46.958)
And it was 40, 50, 60, 70%, which was millions of dollars. And so we then started asking structurally, who's responsible for the drive -through? Who owns the drive -through? Who is the leader of that distribution channel? 99 % of the restaurants at that point had no one who owned that distribution channel. And now they virtually all do. Again, a structural change, which enabled us to improve the performance in the drive -through.

So those two to me are real tangible examples of how changing structure can really impact outcomes. So you got to reinvent continuously.

Skot Waldorn (40:26.868)
All right, value results and relationships, number four.

Mark (40:30.19)
Okay. Yeah. I'll hit this one quickly. I will, I will go ahead and say, this is the most challenging of the four fundamentals for about 95 % of the leaders in the world. I don't have data to support that, but I've been sharing this concept in dozens of countries for 25 years. This is going to be the hardest for most folks of the four. And, and here's, here's my explanation for that.

Virtually every leader, again, I'm guessing 95 % have a natural bias. When they show up, they're either more results oriented or more relationship oriented. That's your challenge. What we've discovered over the years is the best leaders value both. If you over index on either one, you suboptimize performance. Even by over indexing on performance, you suboptimize performance. And clearly, if you over index on the...

relational side, you will sub -optimize performance. So our encouragement to leaders, it's really simple. Give it to you fast. It's a two -step process. Own your bias, quit running, quit hiding, quit denying, just admit it. And if you don't know, ask three people who know you and they'll tell you. And maybe they'll say, oh, you're both. Well, great, then leadership's easier for you. I don't even like you. So you can move to the fifth fundamental. But for most everybody, we're going to have a bias, own your bias, and then...

you find ways to compensate. Think of it like putting on glasses. A leader who wears glasses is not a lesser leader. I'd say they're pretty smart because they realize they didn't do something well and they compensated. All they had to do is figure out what's the right prescription. So I tell leaders own your bias and then compensate for that which you don't do naturally well. And maybe you need just a little bit of a prescription. So maybe if your results oriented, all you gotta do is be sure somebody on your team,

is relational to help. And that might be all you need. You might need to do more than that. You've got to figure out what you have to do so you value both. I don't think you're ever going to change. I think you will always have that natural bias, but the best leaders value both.

Skot Waldorn (42:40.916)
And you finished up the five with embody a leader's heart.

Mark (42:44.75)
Embody a leader's heart. Yeah. So our picture of leadership is an iceberg. And I don't know that folks remember fifth grade, but what they tell me we studied, because I had to go back and check, is that about 10 % of the iceberg is above the waterline and about 90 % is below. And we think these fundamentals actually fit that picture. The first four are in that 10 % above the waterline.

And the 90 % below is the leader's heart. And our efficacy over time as a leader will be determined more by our heart than our skills. We still need the skills. I mean, you need both, but if your heart's not right, nobody cares about your skills. And I think I can prove that to your listeners. If you will bring to mind a leader that you know, who has all the skills, but you don't choose to follow them.

Well, why not? Because you got questions about their heart. Are they self -serving or serving? Is it about them? Is it about their ego? Are they going to be quick to throw you under a bus if they need to? Are they going to take credit for your work? I mean, there are any number of signs and signals. Again, I said, leaders said when we asked them about their number one impediment that they see for their boss, it's ego.

You may stay on the payroll, but you really don't want to follow people like that. And so we say you got to guard your heart.

Skot Waldorn (44:24.18)
Guard your heart. Oh, so good, Mark. So good. Um, I, I'm excited to dive deeper. I haven't finished it yet. I haven't finished. Um, so I bet, but what I've read. Okay. Okay. Um, paragraph three, where I'm just kidding. I don't know. I don't get it. I know you will. And the, um, the, the humble, secure, confident person you are. Thanks for, thanks for sharing this stuff.

Mark (44:35.406)
Okay, well call me when you're finished. I want your feedback.

Mark (44:43.246)
I'll take all the feedback I can get.

Skot Waldorn (44:53.012)
with us, I think that the research is really intriguing to me. Um, you know, we're kind of in the space sometimes of like, you know, you know, shurm and all these other organizations put out all these stats and whatever. And when it comes down to it, leadership is so, it's hard to measure at times. Um, and so it's kind of like a gut thing sometimes and other times it's not, but you need to call it.

Mark (45:18.734)

Skot Waldorn (45:21.684)
It just requires different things at different times of different types of people. And it's, it's, it's hard. So here's the good thing. We've got job security, Mark. So.

Mark (45:24.046)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm. Yeah, it's hard.

There's a lot to talk about. And what you and I need to do is probably just get a cup of coffee. We've done several multimillion dollar projects. In fact, we just, we spent $4 million studying organizational change. That's a book that's going to come out in a couple of years, but we spent, we spent several million dollars on a half dozen of our books or more.

Skot Waldorn (45:37.268)

Mark (45:55.374)
So we, we, we, listen, we always start our projects and this will be one thing that you'll find in anything we've published. We start with the same question. What is universally true about this topic? Now, universally, we did do a book on, um, attracting top talent. We did focus that on the U S but spent seven figures on it and ended up surveying or interviewing people from age 15 to 65 from all 50 States.

7 ,000 people in that sample. So universally true, we chose our universe in that case with United States. We published that in a book called Talent Magnet. But my point being, we don't wanna just share what we think. We wanna share truth because we think truth transforms. And we're not doing this for fun. We're doing it to help leaders transform their organizations.

Skot Waldorn (46:49.14)
and we have fun while we do it. Yeah.

Mark (46:50.894)
We do have fun, but that's really not the motivation. I'm writing the next book right now and I'm not having fun right now, but that's okay. I'll push through it. I'll push through it. I'll push through it.

Skot Waldorn (46:54.356)
No, it's not.

Oh yeah, I get you, man. I get you. Yeah. I look at these like serial authors and I'm going, y 'all are crazy. I just published mine in December and I was like, I need like five years to recover. Like, you know, and it's nuts, man. So, well, so cool. Thank you for being here, Mark. Is there, give me a book besides yours, but another book.

Mark (47:11.278)
I understand. I understand.

Skot Waldorn (47:25.172)
or a podcast or something that a leader should be paying attention to right now.

Mark (47:30.03)
Wow. Yeah, I would say first, go to your point of need, because there's so much out there. So I want to not that you need my permission, but go to your point of need. Start there. If you don't have a particular point of need. I loved a book I read a couple of years ago called Insanely Simple. Seagal, I think is the guy who wrote it.

And he worked with Steve Jobs and he makes a statement that many would consider blasphemy. He said, uh, Apple secret sauce was not Steve Jobs. He said it was Steve Jobs, maniacal focus on simplicity, which encourages me because I'm not Steve Jobs. I don't want to be Steve Jobs. Can't be Steve Jobs, but I have been a champion of simplicity my entire career. And he gave.

scores of examples about how Steve pushed Apple to simplify. And I think, I think that's a great, I don't even know that he wrote it for leaders specifically, but I loved that book. And so I'll recommend that to folks that might need to be inspired to make things more simple. It's easy for us to think that way. Cause we sold chicken for all the, I mean, we just, let's get it hot and get it fresh and make the place clean. I mean, let's.

Let's keep it as simple as we possibly can.

Skot Waldorn (48:58.9)
Yeah, good stuff, man. Good. I, um, yeah, I'm gonna how you get much more simple than the, than Chick -fil -A menu. Yeah. It's, it's kind of like they add a new thing every like seven years. I'm like, what? There's a new way to like, you know, wrap a chicken thing now. So like, yeah, that's pretty cool. All right. So where do people get in touch with you? I'm sure they can get the book anywhere they buy books. Um, how people want to hang out with you though.

Mark (49:11.47)
Ha ha!

Mark (49:15.598)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mark (49:22.51)
Sure, they can get the book anywhere. Well, let me give you my cell number. It's 678 -612 -8441. And please put that in the show notes, because I know somebody's driving out there. My email is mark at leadeveryday .com. And of course, we have leadeveryday .com talks about our products and services and books and resources and whatnot. But let me know if I can serve you. I'd consider it my pleasure.

Skot Waldorn (49:53.14)
been a blessing having you on the show, man. It's a, I've been served. I get served every time I do these and it's a, you know, it's kind of a selfish thing for me now to, to have guests like you on, cause I get so much out of it. So I appreciate you being here and continue spreading the word.

Mark (50:08.11)
Thanks for the opportunity.

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