serve

WHO MATTERS MOST?

Who are the most important people you serve – the owner, the boss, the customer, the employees? Which one is your primary focus? When I joined Popeyes in 2007, my first day was the international franchising conference in Orlando, Florida. As you would expect, on my first day I was brimming with excitement and anticipation about this challenging new leadership opportunity. This would be my first chance to meet the Popeyes franchise owners – the people who own virtually all of our restaurants – the entrepreneurs who have made Popeyes their livelihood. Certainly, they would be excited to meet me too?

It didn’t take long to understand that the franchise owners were not excited to meet me. They had met seven CEOs in the prior four years. I was just “CEO Number 8.” They were in year eight of a downturn in the sales and profits of their restaurants. They were tired of the situation – and if they had chosen a slogan, it might have been “Not Going to Take It Anymore.”

In fact, one veteran franchisee put it this way. “You see Cheryl. We are abused children. And you are just another foster parent. Don’t expect us to trust you anytime soon.”

Long pause on my end. In fact, these words still give me pause.

How many people in the workplace feel like abused children? How many of them think their leader is just another foster parent; “don’t expect us to trust you anytime soon.”

I’m afraid the number is much higher than we want to think.

As you think about your leadership, who are the people counting on you to serve them well? What would serving them well look like? How would they know that? How would they measure that?

“It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.”

Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant As Leader

At Popeyes, we chose our franchisees as our #1 priority and determined we must serve them well. Here is what our franchisees tell us matters to them:

  1. They want to be listened to, demonstrating that we truly value their experience and point of view.
  2. They want us to be honest with them, especially when we make mistakes.
  3. They want to be part of the decision-making process, not the recipient of our decisions.
  4. They want us to be accountable, to actually do the things we say we are going to do.
  5. They want our ideas to deliver positive results to their business.

Is that too much to ask of the leader? Listening. Honesty. Inclusion. Accountability. Results.

Isn’t that what you would like from your leader?

You have an opportunity to serve the people you lead well.

Who matters most in your organization? Will you serve them well?

Reclaiming the purpose of your work week

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.” -Proverbs 22:1

Have you ever had someone’s name come up in conversation, and you just rave about that person? You speak well of them, you tell about their outstanding character, you love to be merely in the same room as them.

This is a person with a “good name.”

A good name is ultimately what lasts. Riches don’t go with you to the grave, but your character does. The problem is that we tend to lose focus in the working world. It lures us to build up money and accumulate things. And we end up forgetting about the most important task that the 40 hours a week should see us doing—that of building good character.

So how do you start to focus on building up a good name instead of building up riches, which come and go?

Here’s four ways to start:

1. Allegiance to God, not man. We have to yield daily to His principles and start to live in the reality that we are working for the Lord first, our boss second. When we have the mindset of working for God, we pay more attention to his rules, his ways, and his directions. As our boss and the one we serve, he desires vastly different things than many of the bosses that we will encounter. Stay always in the mindset that you are working for Him and serving Him first, and His ways will gradually become yours. God isn’t interested in making you rich (“Oh how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God!”)—he’s interested in making you more into the image of His son.

2. Loving others more than yourself. When we are self-centered (which is a lot of the time!), we focus on what will serve our kingdom best. For me, this generally leads to giving more time to myself, spending more money on myself, and thinking about myself. I’m essentially putting my resources into puffing up my own world.

Ouch.

But when you start to focus on others and spend time learning how to love them, two things happen. You start to build others up, and by doing so, you become more of a servant-hearted person. There are few people I know that would rather spend time with someone who’s prideful rather than someone who’s humble.

3. Integrity. Simply put, you’ve got to be the same person…everywhere you go. Many people build up a good name for themselves at work, but their home life is a train wreck. It’s not worth it to receive accolades as a professional but fail as a brother. It doesn’t build one area of your life and neglect the rest. Your name is a holistic representation of who you are. It comprises your work self, your church self, your personal self, your family self, and more. The task is to bridge any gaps that remain and fix inconsistencies.

4. Gratitude. Many go through life blazing their own trail and leaving a cloud of dust behind them. They use people to get what they want and step over people to get to the top. What they’re leaving behind them is a trail of people who think poorly of them because they’ve been treated poorly, which in the end doesn’t serve the person at all. Who wants to be at the top, only to find that everybody hates you?

The antidote to this path is gratitude. Yes, fight hard, become better at what you do. But thank the people that help you along the way. Thank your mom and dad for raising you and teaching you. Thank your boss, even if they weren’t so great (you can always learn something from tough people).

Thank your teachers, your friends, your spouse.

Thankfulness yields a good trail of people who think well of you. We live in a world of overworked, under-appreciated people. So when people feel appreciated, they appreciate you back. A hand-written note truly does amazing things to the heart. I’ve seen people change their countenance before my eyes when I’ve handed them a thank-you note.

What about you? What has your experience in the working world been like? What steps have you taken to make sure you’re pursuing the right things? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

Changing the Landscape

Recently driving to our family vacation in Colorado I was struck by a virtual sea of wind turbines that dotted the horizon for miles along the panhandle highways of Texas. Having grown up in Texas it occurred to me how much these three armed giants have changed our landscape! Traveling these highways as a boy we saw an occasion tumbleweed, some grazing cattle and a lot of nothing! What struck me as I marveled at the spinning rotors was the thought, isn’t that what we are called to do as Christian Leaders and that is to change the landscape? What was even more remarkable was that a cost of over $1,000,000 each, how many of them stood idol, not really doing what they were made for.

As Christian leaders we understand the ultimate price that Christ paid on the cross and that cannot be measured in dollars. Our calling is to make a difference in the market place, to make a difference….and change the landscape! Are you up to the call? How do you measure up?

As the parallels continued I thought about what these turbines are designed for and that is providing power to millions of households and business throughout the land. As Christian Leaders we are called to not only share the saving power of Jesus but be transformed!

Romans 12:2 NIV says….Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is ---his good, pleasing and perfect will.

So the question is, how are you changing the landscape? Are you empowered by the Holy Spirit and how is that power impacting your leadership? Here are 10 simple reminders:

  1. Share your vision
  2. Live your values
  3. Lead with compassion
  4. Do what right for your people
  5. Serve others
  6. Lead by example
  7. Develop others
  8. Invest in yourself
  9. Be Salt & Light
  10. Pray daily for your team

Keep in mind on a wind turbine that the rotors spin to produce the power. In your life your three sources of power are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirt. May you lead in that power every day!