Cheryl Bachelder is a passionate restaurant industry executive serving as the CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. Ms. Bachelder has come to be known for her great, servant leadership—leadership that turned a struggling company around by shaping a work culture that emphasized serving others—both within the company as well as the customers it serves. In 2015, she wrote a book, “Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others,” chronicling the tenets of the Popeyes turnabout.
But the book is not just a retelling of this success. Although a rather quick read, it’s a deep book of leadership wisdom that some readers have likened to having “a cup of coffee with a true culture builder.”
Effective leaders step out of the spotlight
Dare to Serve continually draws the reader back to one of Ms. Bachelder’s central themes: effective leaders step out of the spotlight. Pointing out that most people (including most leaders) expect that leaders will be and maybe should be in the spotlight, Ms. Bachelder asserts the opposite; that servant leaders willingly step from it and shift the focus from themselves to their people. Servant leaders focus on their people. They listen. They involve others in decisions and continually empower. They are humble and courageous. They aspire and serve over self interest. They help others pursue dreams. They serve others and, consequently, bring superior results.
Most notable are the book’s challenging—often soul searching—questions posed throughout its chapters. These questions continually echo Ms. Bachelder’s primary question: “What if the spotlight appeared on the stage and you were not in it?” and include other “Dare to Serve Reflections.” Here are some of them:
- How do you gain meaningful feedback from those you serve?
- What steps have you taken to create a work environment that brings out the best performance from your team?
- How well do you know the people who work for you? Do you know the three or four events of their lives that have shaped who they are today?
- Most leaders can tell you the weaknesses of their team members. But can you cite the strengths and talents of your team? Are you accessing their very best capability?
- Are you and your team listening carefully and learning continuously from the people you serve?
- How do you use the power that comes with your position: for personal gain or for serving the people and the enterprise?
- What is the most important achievement of your life? Was the win for you—or for the people on your team?
- Do you have big ambitions for yourself or big aspirations for the people on your team?
- What is your daring aspiration for your team that is beyond what they know how to accomplish today?
- Think of a humble leader who you deeply admire. What qualities do you see in this person that you want to be evident in your leadership?
So how does this apply to sharing our faith?
How have you really considered the person you are trying to reach for the gospel?
Has your effort been about them or you?
Do you know them? See their life as important?
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you set out to discover what significant events, people and beliefs in their life have shaped them?
Just like effective leaders, effective “evangelists” step out of the spotlight as well, turning it—and our focus—onto those we are trying to love. As we consider the humble leader we respect most, we look to Jesus as our role model, the ultimate servant.