Jimmy Collins got his first job delivering groceries by bicycle at age 12. The arrangement worked well for both him and his employer, Collins recalled Thursday at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
“Do you know why he hired me? To do the things he didn’t like to do,” said Collins, now 77 and the retired president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A.
Doing those things, and doing them well, can open doors, said Collins author of “Creative Followership: In the Shadow of Greatness.”
|Jimmy Collins, former president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, holds up a $2 bill during his presentation in the DeSantis Family Chapel on Thursday. Collins said he would surprise employees with $2 bills for excellent service.|
Collins was this year’s guest presenter for the MacArthur School of Leadership’s annual speaker series. PBA student Nicole Moceri, owner and operator of Chick-fil-A Lake Worth South, introduced Collins, who spoke in the DeSantis Family Chapel.
Collins said the tenants of Creative Followership are based on the words of King Solomon in Proverbs 27:18: “He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who cares for his master will be honored.”
Creative Followership works because it is based on principles, not rules, he said.
The first principle of Creative Followership is to choose your boss, he said. He came up with a list of four criteria, he said, after enduring a series of bad bosses when he was still in his 20s.
Among those criteria: Not working for a lesser person than himself; working only for someone he could respect, look up to and learn from; working for someone who is building or growing something; and working for someone who is open to input and who would respect his decisions.
When he decided later to form a food service consulting business and work for himself, “I realized I wasn’t such a great boss,” he said.
Eventually he went to work for a friend, Chick-fil-A founder and former PBA American Free Enterprise Medalist Truett Cathy. Collins helped Cathy design the forerunners of the Chick-fil-A stores and the first mall restaurant.
“When I chose Cathy, I chose not only a boss but a good leader,” he said.
Once an employee chooses a good boss, “you’ve got to make the boss successful,” Collins said. “When you take that on and do what it takes to make the boss successful, that boss will take you along for the ride.”
Another principle of Creative Followership involves taking initiative. “Do not wait for the boss to tell you what to do,” he said, adding that it’s always a good idea to “do more than what is expected.”
He also offered another piece of advice: You are not going to make many good decisions,” he said. Instead, “make your decisions good. When you start something, do whatever it takes to finish it right.”
Collins said that by caring for his boss, he was rewarded.
“It was the path to success and satisfaction for me,” he said.
|Tim and Juanita McGraw (back row, center) congratulate present and former recipients of the Jerms McGraw Second Chance Scholarship. This year's recipients are Suely Rivera (front row, left), Ashley Rivera (front row, center) and Elijah Hall (back row, right). Last year's recipients are Ralph Cheriza (back row, left) and Melanie Kafka (front row, right).|
The evening began with the presentation of the Jerms McGraw Second Chance Scholarship to three adult students in the MacArthur School of Leadership: Ashley Rivera, Suely Rivera and Elijah Hall.
The scholarship was created in memory of U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Jeremiah McGraw. Known by his nickname “Jerms,” Lt. McGraw was a student in the MacArthur School of Leadership while serving as a Marine reservist, part of the 4th ANGLICO unit in West Palm Beach.
Lt. McGraw died at age 22 on Sept. 10, 2009, while serving his country. Prior to his death, Lt. McGraw earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from PBA.
Lt. McGraw’s parents, Tim and Juanita McGraw, were on hand for the award presentation.
Also recognized during the program was another local leader: Bill Hobbs, the 2013 MacArthur School of Leadership Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient. Hobbs is executive director of the nonprofit Urban Youth Impact.