Describe your leadership style . I focus on the fundamentals . The first is to set out a vision that everyone sees clearly . That is almost a full-time job since it ’ s not a single event . The second is to spend time with my senior leadership team to help them evaluate more clearly that all of the roles in the organization are filled with the right people in the right positions and to ensure everyone is embracing our values and living our culture .
What has inspired your leadership style ? I ’ m always inspired by great leaders who set out a vision that no one could see at the time , and then successfully led their team to fully see and finally accomplish that vision . Studying those environments , and what happened along the way , is very inspiring when you understand how much ambiguity and chaos existed between the vision being shared and its successful execution . Many leaders assume that high-performance companies made it relatively easily to that point , which no one saw until the trail was blazed . I don ’ t think that ’ s ever been the case .
What is your biggest leadership challenge ? Building a strong culture , by far . Vision has always come naturally to me . And while it ’ s been a challenge to ensure I ’ m effectively communicating that vision with clarity , it pales in the challenge of building a strong culture that can execute on it — especially when the culture you build flies in the face of everything people are taught in school and much of corporate America . When our teams are all aligned around our culture , the strategic and tactical steps necessary to execute on the end-state vision comes very easily . mediately . Next , I defined our core values : Entrepreneurial Thinking , Courage , Candor , Reliability , One Team . The detailed behaviors that exhibit those values are crucial to successfully executing on our highly aspirational vision . Our leaders measure everyone in the organization each quarter on those values . If any team member isn ’ t living all of those values , they are given at least three specific examples and are coached in those areas by our leadership team for 30 days . If they still aren ’ t there after 30 days , they are given another 30 days of coaching to improve . If they can ’ t get there during that time frame they are released from the team .
Culture building is my biggest leadership challenge because most teams and leaders don ’ t value culture as much as they do strategies and tactics while you are building a culture . They don ’ t appreciate what they don ’ t have and don ’ t instinctively appreciate that building a strong culture has to come first . Strategies and tactical execution fall into place easily if you get your culture right and the entire team embraces it , lives it and protects it . When we don ’ t do that well , it ’ s always a tactically chaotic environment full of confusion , blame , and excuse .
Where is the best place to prepare for leadership : an MBA school or OTJ ? OTJ for sure . While an MBA is helpful for a foundation of understanding all the moving pieces of a company , nothing prepares you for success better than failure . I ’ m a huge fan of failure . It ’ s really the only place I ’ ve ever learned anything of real value . However , the skills that need to be developed to excel at failure aren ’ t taught in any schools . Those skills have to be learned on the job , and you learn them in our companies by living our culture . I believe that anyone has the potential to learn how to be a great leader if they are willing and able to plan , reduce risk down to an acceptable level , embrace failure when it happens , and celebrate those failures by sharing what they learned with their team .
Are tough decisions best taken by one person ? How do you make tough decisions ? Decisions always need to be made by one person . We identify the decision-maker up front and encourage decisions to be made as far out in the organization as possible . However , when you do that , be ready for your team to push back . While people generally like to complain when not being able to make decisions or complain about the decisions made “ higher up ,” you can watch most of them push back on making a deci-
How do you transmit your culture from your office to front-line employees ? The first step in building our foundational culture was to establish core values that we are willing to both hire and fire on . I learned a hard lesson early on : you can ’ t establish your values by committee , especially when you don ’ t have a well-defined culture in the first place . After learning that , I spent hundreds of hours determining the values that would lead to a culture that could easily execute on my vision . I landed on three core tenets : Honesty , Integrity , Respect . If you don ’ t live by them , you get ejected from the team imsion that was traditionally made by one of their leaders . We encourage vigorous debate with the decision-maker ’ s entire team . This is a place where all of our values become extremely important . The person making the decision needs to have the courage to be vulnerable and ask for help . We have to rely on all team members to have the courage to be candid when expressing their views and use entrepreneurial thinking to discover all the available possibilities . Finally , when the decision-maker decides on a course , one team is used to ensure that everyone , regardless of how they feel about the decision , gets behind the decision and supports the person who made it .
Do you want to be liked or respected ? I draw a clear line between like and respect at work . Every day I ’ m asking my team to embrace risk and take responsibility for their decisions without fear of retribution if they fail . To build that kind of trust with your team , there must be mutual respect . In my personal life , I want my family friends to both like and respect me . However , being “ liked ” in the work environment is too subjective to be productive and doesn ’ t allow for making tough decisions when parts of the organization aren ’ t aligning with my vision .
Advice to CEO wannabes : Being a CEO means you always have to look at the overall organization , which includes your entire team ( employees ), partners ( franchisees and their teams ), and clients or customers . Understand that all of the decisions and actions you and your team make have a profound effect on that entire ecosystem . This will allow you be a better CEO . Remember that if you set a precedent , you ’ ll have to stick with it for a long time , especially in franchising . This will also help ensure you think through and explain the “ why ” you or your team used when you make decisions , and help them understand the reasoning behind those decisions won ’ t be a moving target . Finally , all leaders , and especially CEOs , should be extremely curious and constantly looking for ways to learn , understand , and develop . Doing so will allow you to be both confident and humble , and that ’ s one of the best leadership examples you can ever set .
Describe your management style : Since my main role is to lead by communicating our vision and set the best example on how to live our core values and culture , I rarely manage .