Cheryl Bachelder joined an ailing restaurant chain and turned it into the darling of the industry—by daring to serve the people in her organization well.
When Bachelder was named CEO of Popeyes in the fall of 2007, guest visits had been declining for years, restaurant sales and profit trends were negative, and the company stock price had dropped from $34 in 2002 to $13. The brand was stagnant, and relations between the company and its franchise owners were strained.
By 2014, average restaurant sales were up 25 percent, and profits were up 40 percent. Popeyes’ market share had grown from 14 percent to 21 percent, and the stock price was over $40. The franchisees were so pleased with the turnaround that they began reinvesting in the brand, rapidly remodeling restaurants, and building new units around the world.
The difference maker, Bachelder says, was a conscious decision to lead in a new way. She and her team created a workplace where people were treated with respect and dignity yet challenged to perform at the highest level. Silos and self were set aside in favor of collaboration and team play. And the results were measured with rigor and discipline. Servant leadership is sometimes derided as soft or ineffective, but this book shows that it’s actually challenging and tough minded—a daring path. Bachelder takes you firsthand through the transformation of Popeyes and shows how a leader at any level can become a Dare-to-Serve leader.
About the Author
Cheryl Bachelder is the CEO of Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen Inc. In 2012, she was recognized as Leader of the Year by the Women’s Foodservice Forum and received the industry’s highest award, the Silver Plate Award, from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association. Cheryl has enjoyed thirty-five years of leadership at Yum! Brands, Domino’s Pizza, RJR Nabisco, the Gillette Company, and Procter & Gamble. She serves on the board of Pier 1 Imports.
“With high-level experience at companies such as KFC and Domino’s Pizza, coupled with stellar stock prices and profit margins at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Bachelder has the credentials for writing about leadership. Characterized in a Restaurant News article as a “modest buttoned up data wonk” who turned out to be a transformative leader, the author speaks at length in the first half of the book about the four pillars guiding Popeyes’s turnaround and long-term strategy. Much of her subsequent advice about empowering employees, building consensus, setting ambitious goals, and tying daily work to a higher purpose echoes that of other recent management books. What sets hers apart is an emphasis on “servant leadership,” meaning focusing on others instead of self and achieving solid results by being humble, accountable, and modeling personal values at work. Specific tools for assessing accountability, articulating one’s “personal purpose,” and identifying individual talents in self and subordinates are listed. VERDICT While the chatty storytelling style can be off-putting, quotes from thinkers as various as Nelson Mandela and Helen Keller are interspersed throughout with some 40 reflections meant to move the reader from understanding this management philosophy to implementing it. Recommended for those wishing to explore servant leadership in corporate America.” —Elizabeth Wood, Bowling Green State
“Extraordinary! Dare to Serve describes the kind of leadership so desperately needed in the 21st century. A powerful blend of courage and humility, Cheryl Bachelder’s engaging story offers a clear path for leaders to follow, and what makes her message so compelling is the tremendous results she’s produced. I highly recommend this book.” —Stephen M. R. Covey, #1 bestselling author of The Speed of Trust and coauthor of Smart Trust “Dare to Serve is a crisp narrative of Cheryl’s profound leadership journey as a corporate executive. Through balancing people, purpose, and principles, Cheryl produces outstanding results. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how it’s done!” —Denise Ramos, CEO and President, ITT Corporation
“When I speak with leaders, it is hard for them to grasp that servant leadership drives both great performance and great human satisfaction. Cheryl Bachelder provides an inspiring manual on how to be a Dare-to-Serve leader who drives superior results.” —Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and Leading at a Higher Level
“It has been a long time since I have read a book from beginning to end in one sitting, but that is exactly what I did with Dare to Serve, and I had to force myself not to read it again right then and there! It is truly a masterpiece and I will be sharing it with many friends, including those whom I am mentoring, just as soon as it is on the bookstands.” —Colleen Barrett, President Emeritus, Southwest Airlines, and coauthor of Lead with LUV “Anyone who leads anything will learn from the crisp and engaging stories in Dare to Serve. It is one of the best leadership books I have read and is a must-read for any leader who cares.” —Joel Manby, CEO, Herschend Family Entertainment, and author of Love Works
“Dare to Serve stands out as one of the most practical, useful books on leadership that I have ever read. Full of real-world examples and grounded in the dramatic turnaround of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurants, Cheryl shares with us how to serve others with intention, competence, character, courage, and humility. Her practical experience, proven results, and contagious passion to serve others well is an inspiration to all of us who want to make a real difference in the world.” —Bonnie Wurzbacher, Chief Resource Development Officer, World Vision International, and former Senior Vice President, Global Customer Leadership, The Coca-Cola Company “Dare to Serve chronicles both the remarkable turnaround story of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc., and Cheryl’s inspiring personal journey of discovery, which galvanized her commitment to an unconventional approach to corporate leadership that has yielded remarkable results.” —Andy Stanley, founder, North Point Ministries, Inc.
“Dare to Serve offers a candid, behind-the-scenes look at how a struggling restaurant chain was transformed into a soaring brand success through a simple but revolutionary model of leadership based on serving others. This book is a must-read for leaders of all kinds!” —Phil Cordell, Global Head, Focused Service and Hampton Brand Management, Hilton Worldwide
“Compelling and inspiring! Bachelder makes the case for her people-focused approach to leadership through her real-life experience at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. Developed and honed in an industry where service to others is at the very core of what we do, these lessons are sure to translate not only across industries but to our personal lives as well.” —Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO, National Restaurant Association
“Cheryl Bachelder’s brave and unconventional approach to the turnaround of Popeyes challenges all of us to step up our game. Cheryl stands in the gap for us, calling us to a purpose that will drive better results for our organizations, while putting the needs of our people and customers ahead of our own.” —Scott MacLellan, CEO, TouchPoint Support Services, a Compass Group company
“By focusing on the purpose-driven success of those she leads, paradoxically, Cheryl Bachelder gets the results we all want from our organizations. Dare to Serve is about the gutsy principles she applied to a business desperately in need of a turnaround and the spectacular results she achieved.” —Tim Irwin, PhD, bestselling author of Impact
“This book turned my thinking upside-down. Cheryl shares her road-tested wisdom and shows how and why Dare-to-Serve leadership works so brilliantly. This is a game-changing book and should be required reading for all leaders.” —Art Barter, President and CEO, Datron Holdings, Inc., and founder and CEO, Servant Leadership Institute
“Dare to Serve is a game changer! The principles outlined create exponential results far beyond what the individual ego will allow. Boards today are looking for Dare-to-Serve type leaders to ignite possibilities in their organizations. This is a must-read for leaders everywhere!” —Jane Edison Stevenson, Vice Chairman, Board & CEO Services, Korn Ferry, and coauthor of Breaking Away