The First Rule of Crushing Your Career

October 28, 2020

by Dee Ann Turner

Mallory started the Zoom call with her coach talking about how frustrated she was to be assigned as an on-boarding mentor to a brand new team member. It sounded like an opportunity for added responsibility and a chance to exhibit leadership skills. The coach was confused why Mallory was unhappy about the situation.

After a few minutes of conversation, it became evident that a chemistry issue divided Mallory and her new mentee. Her coach explained that the differences should not impede Mallory from accepting the responsibility and performing at a high level. If a young leader wants to grow, she needs to learn to work with everyone, not just the people whose personality is appealing to her.

If you want to grow in your career, then Rule #1 is:

When given responsibility, take it.

It doesn’t matter how small or seemingly insignificant the role is, it is usually a stepping stone to greater responsibility, if you perform well. Leaders who are faithful in the small things are often given bigger and more responsibility in the future.

Assuming additional responsibility, increasing leadership competency and consistently delivering results are critical on the path to leadership opportunities. If you see something that needs to be done, then do it and do it well.

Early in my career at Chick-fil-A, my first boss resigned and the organization was not quite sure where to place me. They took months to decide. While they were contemplating my future, I was creating it. I simply did what needed to be done. At that time, the company had very limited processes and no systems for selecting the corporate staff. It was causing a lot of chaos for hiring managers, human resources and the candidates. Not to mention that my boss, Truett Cathy, kept receiving “you done me wrong” letters from confused and disappointed candidates. I made it my job to stop the chaos and the negative letters through creating processes and systems for the organization to use to select extraordinary talent.

No one told me to do it. In fact, for a little while, I am not sure anyone knew what I was doing, but there was a need, so I took responsibility for providing the solution. Soon after, the organization realized I was doing something useful – solving a problem, so they gave me a promotion and the resources to effectively improve our selection processes.

For the most part, my 33-year career grew out of accepting that responsibility in the first few months of working at Chick-fil-A.

You won’t know until you accept it and pursue it. If you want to crush your career, begin by taking every opportunity for additional responsibility.


Author Dee Ann Turner

Dee Ann Turner is a 33-year veteran of Chick-fil-A, Inc. Prior to retirement in 2018, she was Vice President, Talent and Vice President, Sustainability for Chick-fil-A, Inc. Selected as the company’s first female officer in 2001, she was instrumental in building and growing Chick-fil-A’s well-known culture and talent systems. During her long career, she worked closely with founder, S. Truett Cathy, and other key leaders as an architect of their organizational culture. Turner was responsible for thousands of selections of Chick-fil-A Franchisees and corporate staff members. Additionally, she led Talent Management, Staff Learning and Development, Diversity and Inclusion, Culture and Engagement. Most recently, Dee Ann launched and led the Sustainability function focusing on Chick-fil-A’s strategy to implement sustainable practices at the then $10.5 billion company.

Today, she leads her own organization, Dee Ann Turner & Associates, LLC, writing books, speaking to over 50 audiences per year and consulting and coaching leaders globally. She is the author of the best seller, It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture. Her latest book is Bet on Talent: How to Create a Remarkable Culture and Win the Hearts of Customers was released in September 2019 and her new book, Crush Your Career: Ace the Interview, Land the Job and Launch Your Future will release in March 2021.