SERVANT LEADERSHIP & This Popular Female CEO’s Leadership Style May End the Debate on Best Leadership Style, Ever

by Marcel Schwantes, Inc. Magazine, 2/17/17.

…The answer is in two words: Servant Leadership.

In her 2015 book “Dare to Serve,” Bachelder outlines her philosophy for transforming Popeyes. In a nutshell: “We needed to serve the people who have invested the most in Popeyes.”

This means that Popeyes is unwavering in its dedication to serve the people who own the restaurants that serve the customers who walk in the door to experience scrumptious Louisiana cuisine.

This idea of customers coming second is not a new concept. More people-oriented companies are tuning in to the incredible financial return that comes after they invest first in the development, care and engagement of those on the front lines, who serve their customers.

Leaders are finding that when they improve the employee experience (or in Popeye’s case — the franchisee experience) by instilling the servant leader ethos throughout, the customer experience is richer and more satisfying, leading to more loyal customers.

And Then There’s That ‘Spotlight’ Problem

Bachelder uses a great illustration with powerful imagery to pinpoint the leadership problem. She says that leadership is not unlike being on a Broadway stage. When we go to a Broadway show, the spotlight hits the stage, and we wait for the main actor to come out and join us because we know that will be the beginning of the story.

Leadership, she says, is much the same. When you get promoted to a leadership job, people wait to see who you are, how you’re going to act, how you’re going to lead, and they form their conclusions from there.

Bachelder and her team concluded that too many leaders hunger for the spotlight, too many leaders want to stay in the spotlight, and too many leaders forget to shine the spotlight on others.

So they brought this idea of servant leadership over and said, “What if we turned the spotlight to the people we serve instead of keeping it to ourselves. And what would that look like?”

Well, they did. And the results were incredible.

The Six Principles Expressed in Popeyes’ Purpose

In her book, she describes how she created a culture based on what is now the “Popeyes Purpose,” which is expressed in six principles of how they work together. She says that the choice wasn’t an easy one, but her leadership team made a conscious decision to adopt and practice these six behaviors that her team found as “essential to serving people well” and delivering superior performance.

The spotlight problem is solved through the six principles of passion, listening, planning, coaching, accountability and humility…

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