Smart Leadership with Mark Miller of Chick-fil-A

4 Ways Leaders Can Scale Their Impact


Being something of a foodie myself, of course I started my chat with Mark Miller, Chick-fil-A Vice President of High-Performance Leadership, by asking, “What’s the secret ingredient in your chicken?”


“Chick-fil-A’s secret ingredient is hospitality.” – Mark Miller


Honestly, I was hoping for an actual recipe. But wasn’t surprised when he told me, “The secret ingredient is hospitality.” Because as anyone who has been to Chick-fil-A knows, they hire, train and retain based on creating a staff environment that is truly hospitable. And in a fast-food world, that is a much harder recipe to match than some number of herbs and spices.

In the case of Mark’s new book, Smart Leadership: Four Simple Choices to Scale Your Impact, he goes into some detail about how those four ingredients can help transform leaders and create more opportunities for change and impact.

We talked about how leaders can get bogged down in what he and his research team eventually came to call “quicksand.” That’s all the challenges—little and big—that can really distract leaders away from the core activities that make them effective.


“If you want to have a greater impact, you have got to commit to lifelong learning.” – Mark Miller


For example, he talks about how good leaders need to start by defining reality. Because the quicksand, as he says, isn’t the villain: we are. And the first step towards getting out of the quicksand is to evaluate the facts about how you got bogged down in the first place.

Mark made a great point about assessment in this regard. He said, “The value in assessment isn’t in what you learn, it’s what you do.” Did you catch that subtle difference? You can be startled or alarmed, depressed or angry about the reality you’re trying to lead through. But your reaction to the facts is only a reflection on “where you start” to get smarter. If you know you don’t want to stay there… you’ll take action.

I love talking with Mark because just about every other sentence out of his mouth could be the subject for a blog post. Take a listen and learn from someone who has built a career on empowering others to be better, smarter leaders.


Four Smart Choices:


1. Confront reality.


“The value in assessment is what you do with that assessment.” – Mark Miller


2. Grow capacity.


“The best leaders are constantly looking for ways to increase their influence and impact.” -Mark Miller



3. Fuel curiosity.

“Our past success often prevents us from an even brighter future.” -Mark Miller



4. Create change.

“Leaders have a role of creating positive, strategic, and sustainable change.” -Mark Miller


Listen to the Aim Higher episode by clicking here.


For more information, see Smart Leadership: Four Simple Choices to Scale Your Impact.




Image Credit: Cristian Escobar



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