In the theatre of life, when the lights dim and the spotlight hits the stage, it typically shines on the leader. All eyes are fixed on them — the protagonist, the visionary who expects you to follow.
But according to Cheryl Bachelder, the CEO of restaurant chain Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the most effective leaders step out of the spotlight and turn it instead on those they lead.
They possess two traits that set them above the rest, she says. They are “courageous enough to take people to a daring destination, and humble enough to selflessly serve others on the journey.”
Having the courage to set big goals and the humility to put the needs of your followers above your own describes a management style called “servant leadership.”
In her new book, “Dare to Serve: How To Drive Superior Results While Serving Others,” Bachelder details how embodying these characteristics helped her achieve a dramatic turnaround at Popeyes, which went from $US13 per share when she took over as CEO in 2007 to trading in the $US60 range today.
Bachelder tells Business Insider that many people “discount this as nice-guy leadership that’s about hugs and campfires.” In reality, it is the most effective form of leadership, she says, since employees perform best when management sets high expectations and then provides respect and support.
“When you ask someone to tell you about their best boss, they tell you about the ambitious accomplishment they had under the leader, and how the leader made it possible for them to have this remarkable achievement,” she says.
Of course, it’s not always easy to help others shine. Business is competitive, and “we’re all trained to win,” Bachelder notes.
“I’m imperfect like everyone else,” she says. “That’s the point. I aspire to do better. Every day I hold a mirror and ask, ‘Did I live up to my values today?'”
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