The Critical Importance of Creating Purpose Principles

What ignites lasting change?


In this video, Cheryl Bachelder, former CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, talks about the vision and values that the company established in order to set the framework and guardrails ‚ "the how" of the work of the organization‚ and the importance of leadership as a foundation in that framework.

“If you say you're going to do something, please do it,” Cheryl explains her principle. “And if I say something to you, you want me to live up to that promise.”

Watch this video to learn why an organization needs a guiding set of principles and a common purpose if they hope to achieve their goals.

Interviewer: Cheryl, I'd like to ask you about something called Purpose and Principles here that a lot of people point to, as again, part of the success of the turnarounds. Explain what that is, what is leadership framework here, and what we can learn from you about that.

Cheryl: Well, we assembled a leadership team to do this turnaround. After working on it for a couple of years, we said, "You know, we better really think through what's driving the change and write it down." We brought ourselves in a room, and we crafted what we now call, "The purpose and principles of Popeyes." It begins though with deciding who you serve. We had decided we are a franchisor. Our franchise owners invest in the business model and create success. So we decided to serve them first and foremost. They were the stakeholder of the customer that we would put first in our priority, decide who your audience is, and then we crafted our purpose and principles.

Our purpose statement is to inspire servant leaders to achieve superior performance. We chose our leadership philosophy. We said we want to be and teach servant leadership, and we are in service to our franchisees, our audience, and who do we serve.

Then we picked the six guiding principles that would enable success in that leadership approach. Things like, we wanted to endorse and embrace the passion of our owners' passion, is part of this business. But we also wanted to embrace the facts in the plans, because passion should be guard railed by some real information. So we created a fact set to make decisions by and plans to look out into the future.

We said we wanted to be a coaching and development organization. Peer-to-peer and supervisor to employee, we wanted to create a culture of learning and growth. We said that we wanted to have two particular values. One was personal accountability, and the other was valuing humility. We wanted to teach people to do their part of the puzzle, which is accountability. If you say you're going to do something, please do it. And if I say something to you, you want me to live up to that promise.

And then lastly, we said we want value humility, but because we're all bad at that. As soon as you say I'm humble, you've just erred. We wanted to be able to call each other out, and say, "Look that sounded like it was about you." And this is really about the people that we serve, and how we have guard rails around that. So these principles are how we do business. We say how we do business is more important than what we choose to do. Because what we choose to do anybody can copy. But they can't copy our souls. They can't copy our principles for how we treat human beings with dignity. That's what we wanted to be known for.

If I go back to the purpose, I think what's distinctive about us, is that we chose a servant leadership approach. Not conventional in our culture, not the one most typically talked about business school. We call that out as the way we wanted to be known as leaders.

Interviewer: It's interesting not one word did you say, "Chicken." I would imagine you might have gotten some push-back and said, "No, no this is about chicken, and this is about sales." I guess you had to do some vision casting or some education, if you will, to say, "No, this actually is about the business." Did you encounter any of that?

Cheryl: Well, yes. We really believe our business model. We call it, "The nobility of serving others." We believe we develop leaders for a living. So we're in the service business of serving you food. We believe that's a noble cause, and we're in the business developing leaders because 25% of America's first job was in a restaurant. Fifty percent of America works in a restaurant some point in their life. So our real opportunity to change lives is in the way we grow people. We say we develop leaders for a living that makes sense out of our purpose. It's a higher-order purpose. We're very proud of our chicken, but we're even prouder of the leaders who serve it.


Cheryl Bachelder

Cheryl A. Bachelder is the former CEO Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. and author of Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others. She is known for her crisp strategic thinking, franchisee-focused approach, superior ...

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