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Assumptions Of The Leader

I challenge you this week to examine the assumptions you make about the people that you lead. I believe that if you assume great things about the people you lead, you will get great things. If you assume the worst, expect to get it.

At Popeyes, we run quick service restaurants with 15-30 people working in each restaurant. As I tour these restaurants, I meet some amazing leaders. Leaders that create warm, family-like teams that deliver excellent food and service to the restaurant guests. The best restaurant leaders have taught me this important lesson about leading people. Your assumptions matter.

“Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”
~ Ann Frank

Assume People Want To Do Well – People do not come to work planning to fail. The leader’s job is to give people training for their role, set clear expectations, and help them solve the obstacles they encounter. When you assume they want to succeed, you set people up for success.

Assume People Want To Grow – People do not come to work to get bored and stay in one role. The leader’s job is to know the people well and to figure out how best to grow them for more responsibility. If you assume they want to grow, you will spend time determining their strengths, give them roles that put their talent to work, and you will look for an opportunity that they could aspire to reach. When you assume they want to grow, you make sure that they do.

Assume People Will Make Mistakes – People make mistakes. The leader’s job is to allow learning to occur from the mistakes. If you understand that people make mistakes, you won’t be harsh and critical of the person when it happens, you will acknowledge the matter, suggest a way to avoid it in the future, and give the person the benefit of the doubt. When you assume that mistakes are a natural part of growth, you forgive people and give them another chance.

Assume People Need Appreciation To Thrive – People need recognition. The leader’s job is to look for opportunities to recognize good work and publicly let people know how much you value their contributions. People need at least eight positive comments for every criticism you give them. The two most important words you can say on a daily basis are “thank you.” When you assume that people need appreciation to thrive, you give it to them often.

Assume the people want to feel a sense of belonging. People need family and they don’t always have it at home. The leader’s job is to build an environment that is safe, welcoming, caring, and fun … a place where the people feel part of something that matters. The workplace is a place of relationship. When you build strong relationships among your team, you are leading your team to high performance.

Assume People Have Potential – You can choose to see more potential for the person than they see for themselves. People need someone who believes in them and sees their potential. The leader’s job is to give the person opportunity to stretch their capability, yet not fear failure. Only the leader can give people permission to be courageous in their personal development. When you see capability that no one else has ever acknowledged or encouraged in the person, you give them the confidence to reach that potential.

“If you find it in your heart to care for someone else, you will have succeeded.”
~ Maya Angelou

This week I was with one of our experienced Popeyes owners and he said this profound statement, “I wonder what would happen if I assumed every person I hired was capable of a successful career in the restaurant business?”

In the restaurant business, almost everyone begins in an entry level position and works their way to manager, supervisor, and eventually owner. The success stories are many. I wonder how many more success stories there could be if every leader assumed that the people we hire could have a fulfilling career in our industry?

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