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Principles – Alive & Well?


Think about a time when one of your close friends disappointed you. They let you down. They acted in a way that was inconsistent with your expectations. Perhaps the behavior was so unexpected, you were surprised and taken aback. You couldn’t comprehend why they would act that way.

  • They lied, when you thought they valued honesty.
  • They gossiped about you, when you thought they had integrity.
  • They betrayed a confidence, when you thought they were trustworthy.

A principle that you thought was important turned out to not be important to your friend.

This same thing happens in the workplace.

When we work without a set of principles, consistently executed in our daily actions, we disappoint the people counting on our leadership.

At Popeyes, we serve over 300 franchisees, individual business owners who own and operate Popeyes restaurants. On any given day, one of the franchise owners will call and ask us to resolve a problem for them. Their request may seem simple enough – but if we are not careful, we will solve one person’s problem and create a new problem with another owner. We always need to have a principle in mind – a principle that we apply consistently to every franchise owner. Otherwise, we will disappoint.

Sometimes these are difficult conversations. Recently, a franchisee asked if they could close their restaurants early. Our normal operating hours are 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. So how would we answer this request? What would be the principle? After reviewing the situation, we concluded that the Popeyes principle was that we advertise to our guests that we are open every day from 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.  If we let one owner close the restaurant at 8 p.m., we will disappoint the guest who arrives hungry at 9 p.m. We are a chain restaurant – that must mean having open predictable hours to be successful.

The same is true in how we conduct ourselves with our franchise owners; we must behave in a principled way. If an owner makes a reasonable request, and we respond with a rude remark like, “That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” the franchise owner will be disappointed in our behavior. They might conclude that we don’t value their opinion, or that we are arrogant. If we have a principle of “respect for our owners,” then we will think before we speak – and answer their inquiry with a polite, “I’ll look into that for you. Can I call you back in a few hours?”

Many organizations have plaques on the wall with fancy statements of principles or values – but if you interviewed the people in that organization, they might say “actions speak louder than words.”

What would people say about your organization? Do you have principles that you live in your daily actions? Or do you have a plaque collecting dust?

Over the next six weeks, I will be writing about the six principles that we chose to guide our daily decisions and our behaviors at Popeyes. As you read about our principles, consider what principles your organization or team uses to guide your daily actions.

What are the principles of your team? Are they alive and well?



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