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Do You Love The People You Lead?

For over 18 years, I’ve been in a leadership position with small business owners, the franchisees who invest in and run restaurants. Let me share with just five things that are annoying about a small business owner:

  1. They have a lot of emotion and relatively few facts.
  2.  They always want some special favor.
  3.  They never trust the franchisor leader.
  4.  They are quick to anger and slow to forgive.
  5.  They always defend their people, even when they are wrong.

This was basically the worldview when we began the turnaround of Popeyes. Franchisees were difficult to deal with. Unfortunately, our entire business model and future success relied on them. What would we do?

We would re-frame our thinking about our most important business partner. We would love them. We would find a way to see them as important, experienced, valuable people to our future.

We would “re-frame” all those annoying traits – and find the reasons why we LOVE them:1.

  1.  They are risk takers – willing to bet their lives and bank accounts on Popeyes. We are grateful
  2.  They sometimes find themselves in difficult situations. We are here to help.
  3.  They have a long history with our company. It will take time for trust to build.
  4.  They are passionate people. We appreciate their zeal for our business.
  5.  They are loyal to their people. We could learn from them.

Think about the people you lead. Can you list everything that is annoying and difficult about them? Have you ever attempted to re-frame that view and find qualities you LOVE in them? What would be their reaction if you did?

Relationships change slowly. Forgiveness is given reluctantly. Trust builds slowly.

I remember a really frustrating meeting about three years after I joined Popeyes. Our leadership team had attempted to evidence our care, concern, and commitment to the franchise owners. But trust remained elusive.

Looking at the franchisees across the room with their arms folded in permanent resistance, I decided to ask a question: “What would it take to gain your trust?”

There was a long quiet time. The body language changed before the words were spoken. The arms unfolded. The faces softened. The minds opened a bit. And the leader of the franchisee group said, “That’s a reasonable question. Perhaps it’s time to trust you more.”

Trust is not a permanent thing. We’ve had lots of ups and downs since that day. But there is one difference. The franchise owners now believe we are sincere in our desire to work closely with them. We aren’t perfect, but they are willing most days to give us a chance. They trust us more than they used to.

Think about the way you are leading today? What annoys you about the people you lead? What do you treasure about the people you lead?

You have an opportunity to love the people you lead.

Let’s start today.

Follow along with our companion video series as we explore the 40 Questions that can help you become a Dare to Serve leader.

One Response

  1. As an assistant principal, I believed that the teachers loved the children, albeit in very different ways. My Dad taught me that people do the best they can, “if I could do better, I would do better” reminds me that each of us has our story that brought us to where we are. Sometimes I was put in a difficult position that could have been easily avoided and resented the teacher that put me there, but over time I came to realize that they could not see things as I saw them unless I taught them how I saw them. The same was true of the students and parents I worked with. I think the most important factor in appreciating those I served was giving myself the same leeway that I needed to give each of them.

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