The book: Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others — part memoir, part business school case study, and part leadership inspiration and instruction text.
The brain: Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of fast food chain Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. Cheryl has studied leadership for over 15 years and has served as a leader for brands including KFC and Dominos — so she knows a thing or two about the subject.
The best bits: The first half of Dare to Serve conveys the story of the turnaround that Cheryl led at Popeyes.** The second half of the book provides principles and thought-exercises that take you on a journey to servant leadership. Throughout you will find gems like:
Servant leadership simply means service above self.
Superior results are the measure of how well we serve. Serving and performing go hand in hand.
The first step in turning around your organization’s performance? Think positively about the people you lead. Your attitude will determine the altitude of your performance results.
Five benefits to you of becoming a Dare-to-Serve Leader:
- People will tell you the stuff you need to know.
- People will be more likely to follow your bold vision.
- People will actually do the stuff you need to get done without a lot of reminding.
- People will perform better.
- People will watch out for you and protect you from yourself.
A Dare-to-Serve Leader pursues a daring destination for the people and the enterprise. You can’t serve the people well if you don’t have aspirations for the team to be wildly successful. The steps:
- State the daring destination with a plausible business case.
- Focus on the vital few actions, the hard things that must be addressed.
- Commit the resources needed to reach the destination, as evidence of your conviction.
- Create a work environment that brings out the best in people and performance.
- Have the courage to measure and report progress.
It is the leader’s responsibility to bring purpose and meaning to the work of the organization.
I don’t think there are “bad guy” leaders and “good guy” leaders — we all have bad and good traits. The problem is, we fail to deliberately decide between the two poles of self-serving leadership and serving others well… We struggle between who we are and who we wish we could be.
Business has a prominent role in the world today, driving economic growth in developing nations and teaching future leaders life and work skills. With this opportunity for influence comes a moral imperative to steward the people and the organization well. Stewarding the future leaders of the world is a significant responsibility.
The brand story: Dare to Serve actually contains two stories: Popeyes’ and Cheryl’s. Since you can learn about the turnaround at Popeyes in my upcoming book, Extraordinary Experiences: What Great Retail and Restaurant Brands Do**, I wanted to relay a bit of Cheryl’s story here. She shares with humility and vulnerability about her personal and professional experiences and her revelations and stumbles on the servant leadership journey.
Early in my career, when people asked me my career philosophy, I would say ‘Think like a man, act like a lady, and work like a dog.’ I took this line from the cover of a book I had never read, yet I quoted the title for twenty years. Did I seek the spotlight? You bet…I did not know that a leader who stepped out of the spotlight to serve others would drive superior performance results. I certainly had not seen a demonstration. Along the way, I met leaders in nonprofit organizations who were definitely serving others… I admired their leadership and the profound impact they had on other people’s lives… Puzzled by the apparent courage in some leaders and the humility in others, I reflected on the kind of leader I wanted to be. Conclusion? The leader must have both — the courage to take people to a daring destination and the humility to selflessly serve others on the journey… I wish I’d figured this out sooner.
The bottom line: Dare to Serve is a much-needed text that provides proof that servant leadership produces real results and help to adopt and implement it.
Listen to my conversation with Cheryl to learn:
- why self-focused leaders are less effective than those who are focused on serving others
- how work is central part of the design of life
- how servant leadership is not for the faint of heart — it requires people who aspire to be the best leader they can be
**I explain the story of Popeyes’ turnaround in my upcoming book, Extraordinary Experiences: What Great Retail and Restaurant Brands Do. You’ll learn how servant leadership drives Popeyes’ and the results it’s produced. Sign up for my feed, don’t miss information on how to get your copy.
Other brand book bites:
- Do Lead by Les McKeown
- Non-Obvious by Rohit Bhargava
- REMOTE by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson