Lessons In Leadership: Setting the Tone

By C. Ross Berry on September 16, 2020

How Chicken Sandwiches & Pixie Dust Can Strengthen Your Organization

As we have discussed in previous Lessons In Leadership, Ethos plays a key role in the path to success. Ethos is critical to clear, effective decision making. This can apply to your own personal career development or how you serve your employees. It can also be instrumental to identifying potential employees that will strengthen your organization or even working as a team to give back to your community.

What is clear is that having and understanding your organization’s Ethos is an advantage. In fact, there is an entire industry centered around aiding corporations in developing their core values, vision and mission statements. Often, this comes as an item on the organizational development checklist. However, implementing a manufactured corporate ethos can be difficult.

Ideally, an organization’s ethos is organic. Meaning, the core values are already naturally in place and the vision and mission statements serve only to articulate the organization’s heartbeat. These naturally occurring values tend to be a distinct reflection of the firm’s leader. This is a powerful phenomenon, because it means that the executive leadership has the ability to set the tone for the entire company.  

A strong example of this is Chick-fil-A. The Georgia-based fast food chain upholds the personal ethos of their founder, Truett Cathy. This impacts all aspects of their brand from advertising, to quality, to interaction with customers—even their operating hours are a reflection of their ethos. Their ethos has become so intertwined with their decision making, the values of Chick-fil-A are synonymous with the business.

Similarly, Disney reflects the family-focused values of its namesake, Walt Disney. While the definition of family has evolved over the years, and the implementation of the Disney ethos reflects this evolution, creating happiness for families is still at the heart of the company’s values.

All of this points to the lasting influence that leadership can have on the character of an organization, and therefore, the importance of finding the right leadership for your company.