How many CEOs can say they have worked every single jobin their company?
My guess: not many.
Rodney Anderson, founder and chief executive of Pancheros Mexican Grill, a fast-casual restaurant with over 65 locations across the US, is one of the few who can.
In 1992, just after receiving his MBA from the University of Chicago, Anderson opened his first Pancheros location in Iowa City. In the first few years after launching, Anderson worked every job in the restaurant — including dishwasher, cashier, janitor, and cook — in order to get a better sense of how every part of the restaurant operated “and to feel a deeper connection to what my team would be doing on a day-to-day basis, so that I could have a better understanding of what they needed from me,” he tells Business Insider.
This required humility and modesty — two things he’d later realise are absolutely crucial to success.
“In the restaurant business it is very important to realise and understand that what you are doing is probably not ground breaking,” Anderson says. “You’re delivering a product and service that most people are most likely already familiar with.
“Sure, there are small things that differentiate you, but the experience as a whole is one that people are accustomed to,” he continues. “You need to be humble enough to continue executing and executing well on the most basic things, like excellent quality food and superior customer service. If at any point you feel as though you are above these fundamentals, you will likely fail.”
He says as a leader, you also have to be humble enough to pay attention to what is going on around you. “Insight can come from other CEOs, competitors, or even your most loyal of customers. Being receptive to this feedback and taking it well can allow you to address issues and alter certain practices to better serve your customers.”
Another way humility and modesty can help you achieve success: They make you relatable to employees and “create a level of comfort between you and them so there can be open dialogue,” Anderson explains. Having employees feel like they can come to you with ideas and suggestions gives them ownership of their roles and when that occurs, people tend to perform at their highest levels. It’s a win-win.
Anderson says much of his success came from asking questions and “seeking out those who could give quality, trustworthy advice. Learning from others, not being afraid to make my own mistakes, and admitting when I was wrong meant that I didn’t have an ego standing in the way of my success.”
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