Your Experience Means the Most to Your Organization

Which serves a leader more - taking every available opportunity or staying put and growing where you are?


Cheryl Bachelder, former CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, discusses the sometimes counter-cultural notion of longevity in the workplace and how focusing on what's best for the organization usually produces what's best for the people who work there. She believes that it is rewarding to see things through, but leaders often don't stay in an organization long enough to experience those rewards. 

“There's not a culture of longevity,” Cheryl says. “Therefore there's not a culture of leaving legacies in the lives of the people that have been entrusted to our care.”

Are you bringing experience to your organization?

Interviewer: You talk about stay put, add value and the longevity of just sticking around.

Cheryl: Yeah, stay put and add value. I think that's counterculture, too. And I think it's part of just getting ourself out of the way. The average CEO stays in position two to three years. They either move on to a bigger, better job or they get fired. Those are your two options. I've always wanted to be in the first camp.

Interviewer: Right.

Cheryl: But sometimes you get fired. So there's not a culture of longevity. Therefore there's not a culture of leaving legacies in the lives of the people that have been entrusted to our care. So I think what's really special about our leadership team, is that they've been willing to set aside personal gain for the benefit of the enterprise by staying here this long period of time. That what they've noticed is they've grown more, because they've seen through their ideas. Wrestled through the problems that they've created and become better. And then they've been able to build this capability deeper in the organization.

It's much richer and more rewarding to see things through, than it is to be a splash in the day. Right? You come in, do the big splash, leave town. But leaders don't often stay long enough to experience those rewards and see the potential of them.

Now, one of the things people always ask me is, you could go to somewhere else, you can make more zeros. You could get a bigger job, with a bigger title and more money and more stock options. All this stuff. I have been extremely well served by focusing my ambition on what's right for this enterprise. The leader doesn't lose by making the enterprise and the people their first priority. In fact, if they can remember to do that, they're more likely going to have greater success then the rest. That maybe be hard to trust. But it's been my life experiences that if I throw myself at, my ambition is thrown at developing these people as leaders, and growing this enterprise to be prosperous for the owners that we serve, I'll be well served. I don't have to worry about that.

Interviewer: Wow.


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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