His answer was refreshing because the temptation for many high level executives is to accept the accolades and bask in the light of their own brilliance. For many, it is so easy to get caught up in believing their own press. Some believe that the success of the business is due solely to their business intelligence. Although it may be one of the reasons for the success of the company, it is critical to remember that people are the backbone of any successful organization.
In that same interview, the CEO also stated that another ingredient that made the restaurants so successful is their commitment to identifying the next leader(s) in the company. The leadership believes that developing bench strength within the organization will result in a sustainable business model that values people first, then profits. One way this is done is through frequent leadership visits to a certain percentage of their restaurants where they make it a point to sit down not only with the managers of the restaurants, but also with each of the hourly employees. They ask them about their supervisors and how they interact with the team. They also ask how the business can improve. This ground level, in-the-field intelligence not only helps the company, but, in the long run, also helps to foster loyalty within the ranks of the restaurant staff.
As leaders it's important for us to really support our people, making sure that we are connecting with them on a regular basis. One on One interaction, whenever possible, is key to employee engagement.
Leadership like this causes employees to feel valued and to take ownership as clear stakeholders in the success of the business. When employees take ownership in the business, the result is happy customers, happy employees, and increased profitability.
As a leader you will be tempted to go it alone, but never lose sight of the fact that the most important asset you have is your team. It’s about people.