Leadership Lessons You Can Learn From The Chick-Fil-A Controversy

Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-Fil-A, recently answered he was “guilty as charged” when asked if he backed the “biblical definition of a family.” This has created a huge backlash from organizations that have differing views. Creating a Chick-Fil-A controversy.


Chick-Fil-A Restaurant

Mr. Cathy and Chick-Fil-A have long been applied Biblical principals to business practices. Feeling that Biblical principals are the best way to run a business. The beliefs of the owners have never been a secret.

Chick-Fil-A believes it is best to be closed on Sundays, to carry no debt, and to give back to the community can only improve their business. And by looking at their business, it’s been great values to follow.

Yet the recent news that they support a Biblical view of marriage has created a huge controversy.

Now, whether or not you agree with his statements you can learn from this situation.

  • Your personal values can affect your business: The news of Dan Cathy saying he believes in the traditional family sent ripples through the blog-o-sphere and news channels. Some praised the comment. Others have shouted their disdain. Those with objections have been having their views aired through news channels.

    They’re calling for boycotts. For apologies. For cities and colleges to kick them out of their place of business. Jim Hensen even pulled their Muppet toys from the store.

    This may or may not adversely affect their bottom line. But the press they’ve received cannot be viewed as good.

  • Stand by your values: Chick-Fil-A is standing by the comments Dan Cathy made. If you’re going to publicly announce what you believe, you must be willing to stand behind them. Don’t waver. If you do, it will cause an even greater backlash.
  • Treat your customers the same: Regardless of your beliefs, do your best to serve your customers. Even if they disagree with you. Serve those that you disagree with the same as you would those that believe as you do.
  • Carry on: You must continue doing business. Having a segment of the public disagree with you may be scary. But you must stay the course and do business as usual. Continue selling chicken, continue serving customers, continue being great.

I believe Chick-Fil-A will weather this storm fine. They’ll come out just as good as before. But that’s because they’ve built their business upon their principles and are unwilling to compromise.

When you’re able to stand behind what you believe, you will be able to come through controversy. It may not be fun. It may not be pretty. But it’s something you can do.

Question: How have your values impacted your business or organization? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • You have to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.

    I think one of the main problems in our society is that so many don’t know what they stand for, so they are overwhelmed by those who do know what they stand for.

    • Great first statement TC Avey.

    • So very true. It’s sad when we see organizations swaying in the wind. Bent by the newest fad.

  • That’s the thing. In Network marketing where I am a business owner its ways how you can lower your standards, your values and do what others are doing. I could take short cuts to get to the top, I could jump from company to company or I could just run my business and organization built on Godly principles. I can pray for my team, I Lead by example and I don’t go against what God has put me here to do which is affect lives for him.

    I stand with Mr. Cathy and I am so proud that finally someone in Business with a voice as loud as his can hold his ground. Who cares if you boycott Chick-Fil-A I won’t and as it appears he has gained more business because of it. This is an example of staying true to your business belief.

    • That’s sad to hear. Lowering of values and standards may get you to the place you want to go quickly but it also ensures you’ll quickly fade away. Glad to hear you’re taking the high road.

  • What I like about Chik-Fil-A is that they are always consistent. They are living with the controversy and moving on. That’s the thing I’ve learned. Make a decision and move on. Sometimes it doesn’t work and you learn. And I think they will weather this just fine.

    • Great point Larry. Consistency in your actions and words are worth much more than going with what’s hot.

  • I think Christian leaders and business people need to stand on their faith and values, no matter the backlash. I know I have lost readers because of writing about biblical leadership principles.

    • I think we all have. It’s all about knowing who you are and what you stand for.

  • its funny how something that has been known by many for years can suddenly become controversial…if you really believe something, it shouldnt be that hard to stick to it when “trouble” arises

    • I know Tyler! It shocked me when all of this hit and people were shocked.

  • I commend the organization for taking a stand. As far as your comment that “this may or may not adversely affect their bottom line. But the press they’ve received cannot be viewed as good” I respectfully disagree. I believe that the organization will come out of this much stronger because they took a stand and is not backing down. All of the boycotts and other nonsense going on certainly will not put them out of business, that’s for sure. Now I’m hungry…I’m going to Chick-Fil-A for some delicious lunch right now!

    • So do I. I think it’s a great thing that they’re standing by their convictions.

      I hope I’m wrong and you’re right that the press can benefit Chick-Fil-A. To me, there’s not been a positive note to the whole ordeal in the main media. It’s all been tearing Chick-Fil-A down and twisting words. Here’s hoping good will come out of this.

      Stop it, you’re making me jealous! I wish I could go to a Chick-Fil-A but the closest one is a 3 hour drive. Counting down the days until Catalyst when I can get my chicken fix.

      • By the way, the parking lot was full and the drive-thru line was literally around the building, which I had never seen before. How do you survive in life without a Chick-Fil-A?!

        • That’s awesome. Glad to see that their business is going strong! Maybe it will payoff for them in the long run.

          I don’t know, I just don’t know…. After the first taste I was hooked. Now we look for it where ever we go. The major bummer was when we were down in WV. Major power outages on Saturday and the power comes back on after 3. Chick-Fil-A was closed the rest of the day and of course the following day. Talk about depressing!

  • Yesterday, my pastor talked about how watchmen on the ancient walls of jerusalem were called to stand on the walls and watch out. So the call was for the church to stand for something, not just sway and be vague and accommodate everyone/everything when the heat comes.

    Personally, I am just amazed at this whole thing – i come from such a conservative culture and a CEO taking this stand back home (kenya) would not cause such ripples. I mean everyone would back him up. The heat would be on those who don’t.

    But i have come to recognize that our safety is in Christ, not culture. The world is changing everywhere..including previously ‘conservative’ nations.

    My take – just pray for people to know the truth be a light. And take a stand, no matter the heat. Great post and reminder.

    • That’s beautiful Ngina. Your pastor has got it spot on.

  • Your values have to be first, above anything else and yes that will shape your business. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God……..”

    • That’s so true and seems to be the foundation of their business. How do you apply that to yours?

  • I had a lot of respect for Truett Cathy and the legacy he’s passed down…after this I have even more. I love that they stand up for their beliefs. Great post and great way to pull in how leadership really affects many parts of our lives.

    • Exactly. And from some reports coming in, it seems that they’re experiencing a bit of an uptick in business. It’s amazing to see how standing up for one’s beliefs can benefit you.

  • Deborah Bird

    There is a movement among liberal circles in the blogosphere to show up on August 1 asking for a free meal…or at least a large water claiming a verse from Scripture about feeding tlyour enemy. I hope I hear this request and can buy that meal for that soul.

    • That would be awesome to see. I wouldn’t doubt it if they stepped up and actually did feed them. It would also be interesting to see how others respond to the requests, if they’d step up like you’re willing to.

  • You’re brave to approach this issue, Joe, but it needs to be discussed. Although I believe in traditional marriage, I also promote equality and love for all. Based on my values and beliefs, my initial reaction to Chick a Filet was negative, and my initial reaction to KFC, positive. After further thought I’ve decided that all of these fast-food restaurants should seal their lips about who and what they support. I think these are personal decisions and it should be left to the individuals. I don’t want to see anti-this and pro-that propaganda at every restaurant I dine. Personally, I have a good mind to say “boycott any restaurant that serves propaganda.”

    • Dan, I’m glad you appreciated the discussion. Topics like this can be a touchy subject to breach for businesses. We need to be aware that when we speak on topics that may be near and dear to us there is the possibility of backlash.