Great companies have great leaders. This statement is true 100% of the time. Show me a company that is waning, sales falling, people unengaged, and customers frustrated and I’ll point to poor leadership, or at the very minimum, a leadership gap.
I never want to see my company in that position, so if you come to our shop you will see leaders who are highly engaged with our team members. They are constantly taking an educational approach to their leadership.
And I could not be more proud.
Most days you will also find me there, leading our leaders. This is by design, so that I can create a culture of leadership where leaders know that their contribution matters, and they have an influence on the people coming through our shop.
We are running a leadership factory.
We are Different
Most businesses like ours have a structure that looks something like this…
Corporate Headquarters generally are the most engaged in the success of the brand as a whole. This is because they have the most direct interaction with the leadership of the company. In many cases, they have the only interaction with the leadership of the company. This is where the first disconnect between the vision of the company leadership and the rest of the company usually begins.
Without high-level engagement between a company’s leadership and everyone else, vision fades and dies.
Corporate Headquarters then relies on the District Manager to get their desires accomplished on a more localized level. This district manager is motivated by bonuses to his or her pay based on the performance of his district – the area of the country he or she is in charge of.
The district manager’s success relies on their ability to convince the general managers of the overall vision of the company and get their buy in.
Successful district managers can make a good salary, which is one reason general managers want to become district managers.
These are the managers we generally have contact with, as the public, when we have some kind of problem with our experience. These poor people take a beating. General managers for most companies are overworked, underpaid, and just want to move on with their lives. They want to move up (become a district manager) or move on.
We all know what an employee is…
As I said, we are different. Our structure looks more like this.
My wife and I, the owners, work in the shop 5 days per week. We work alongside our team. Together, we serve our guests, seeking to exceed their expectations of service and quality. We cheer each other on, and we celebrate successes together. When there is a change that needs to be made, we communicate our vision with the entire team.
Everyone is involved in fulfilling the overall vision. One result of this is that we create more leadership, organically.
The number of people on our team who were hired and made leaders immediately is zero. We don’t have to do this, because we give everyone an opportunity to demonstrate their leadership abilities, as we work beside them. This servant leadership approach also helps to produce leaders that lead with our values. In short, we produce leaders, not managers.
When everyone works together, not worried about titles or special levels of leadership, the result is a team who genuinely like one another and truly want to do their best. They do not do it solely for me, they do their absolute best for one another. This is by far the healthiest culture in a workplace which can possibly be established.
To be clear, this is not an “anything goes” lackadaisical environment. Far from it! We all work extremely hard every day to exceed our customers’ expectations over and over again.
And we are constantly trying to get better.
We are never satisfied with the status quo. We celebrate our victories, fine-tune when we feel like we could have done better, and dream and stretch our vision beyond its current borders. This stretching happens day after day, week after week, and so on. When I look back and think about how much our vision of who we are has evolved since our first days and weeks, I am so proud to be part of this team of leaders.
It has never been all about me. It has always been all about our team and our guests.
My job as a leader is to serve the team and our customers. I don’t have to have all of the answers. I don’t have to be smarter than the people I work with. In fact, I think it is awesome when one of our teammates comes up with a brilliant solution to a challenge we are facing. I only half jokingly tell customers that part of our success lies in the fact that I have learned to hire people who are smarter than me.
Each person on our team has strengths. I have strengths, and plenty of weaknesses. When you put us all together, we are dynamite.
We are Bakeristas.
We are Sourdough Cuppa Joe.
If you are looking to develop a culture of servant leadership in your business, you are in the right place. We would love to be of help to you in any way we can! Comment on this post so we can connect.
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