A Leader Summit Experience: Moving from Good to Great

by Lisa Oates

Leading others in a fast-paced restaurant environment is no easy task; it becomes even more complex when you throw in the aggressive customer and sales volume experienced by the average Chick-fil-A restaurant. For Jalen Matthews, balancing the responsibilities of managing operations and managing people is something he had to quickly learn as Assistant Manager at Chick-fil-A Annapolis. But in a recent season of transition into a new leadership role, that balance quickly became even harder to find.


Jalen struggled with knowing when to be more authoritative in his leadership role to meet the demands from those above him and when to be more personable for team members who were looking to him as a people leader.


“I’m currently in a position of authority, but I found it difficult to balance the two and then relay why to both parties,” Jalen says.


In perfect timing, Jalen and several other leaders were sent to one of WinShape Teams’ Leader Summits by their Chick-fil-A Operator, Michael Edmonds.


Going into the experience, Jalen’s goal was to learn more about the team leaders he was coming with, their Operator, and how he could use that information to further improve on his role in the restaurant.


Over the course of two days, Jalen learned how to strengthen his leadership by diving into the principles of self-leadership. Alongside his team, he learned how to refine the skills he needed to become the healthy, fulfilled leader he wanted to be.


“[The Leader Summit] left me uplifted and gave me a hunger for more knowledge and wisdom,” he says. “I left feeling more inspired to accept the idea of failing forward and truly expect the best with every situation.”


Outside of the Summit content, Jalen found that simply getting outside of the restaurant with his team allowed him to better embrace their unique personalities and the value they bring to the rest of the team each day. Even more, he found that what he learned quickly bled over into his personal life.


“[Our Operator] has always taught us to be servant leaders and has been the best example of one over the course of my entire career. I think WinShape helped me realize that even though I was serving my team so well at work, I hadn’t been giving my family the same level of servant leadership.”


Jalen’s other big takeaway? Celebrate wins. While he consistently gets the best out of his team members, he recognized that it’s often too easy to forget to thank those individuals and celebrate with the team.


“Over the next few months, this will be my biggest focus at work and at home,” he says.


For those who are looking to develop themselves as a leader but are unsure about taking the time to do so, Jalen is quick to encourage them to take the plunge: “DO NOT WAIT,” he emphasized after experiencing the Leader Summit. “It’s extremely interactive, and all of the individuals there were true examples of servant leaders. The activities paired very well with each lesson that followed, allowing you to apply a concept to something you had just tried to do a few minutes before.”


Jalen acknowledged the seeds of self-leadership that had been sown in him by Chick-fil-A over the years, explaining that WinShape Teams enforced everything he has been taught and gave him an exclusive tool to help his team become something even greater than they already are.


“It’s an experience I would advise anyone to be a part of….leading yourself can be the biggest struggle for someone who has been tasked to lead others. WinShape reminded me that I may be a leader who can get results, but if I’m not looking to grow myself it limits my capacity to grow those around me.”

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