Guest Post: “Traits of a Servant Leader- Compassionate Collaboration” by Cheryl Bachelder

promo_02Enjoy this guest post by Cheryl Bachelder, the servant leader of Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen group as she shares about just one important aspect of servant leadership … then go read her entire book Dare To Serve and really start to change your leadership life:


In American culture, we admire and celebrate individual contributors. We hold up CEOs, celebrities, entrepreneurs, community leaders who have accomplished great things, and we attach those great things to a person, more often than a team.

Even in our sporting events, we tend to celebrate the big name player, over the team. Without realizing it, we often arrive at work with this mindset of individual contributor and we forget the power of collaboration.

At Popeyes, we have been working on building a culture of collaborative teams. Today I share with you a few observations from this experience. For context, seven years ago we decided to assign every critical strategic initiative to a cross functional team to define, solve and implement the solution.

Why? We were working on 129 projects that were not resulting in growth of sales or profits of the company. Out of crisis, we had to work on fewer things and work in a different way.


Not all of our teams were successful, but the successful collaborative teams had these characteristics:

  • The team set specific measurable goals. The goals were ambitious, but not crazy.
  • The team spent time mapping out what skill sets they needed to solve the problem and then added team members where skill gaps existed.
  • The team established camaraderie early on. They took the time upfront to get to know one another so that the work process would go more smoothly (and be more fun).
  • The team leader invited each person to bring their all to the team; communicating that each person is uniquely valuable to the team.
  • The team developed a detailed work plan, assigned each deliverable to an owner, and made sure the work could be accomplished in the time allotted.
  • The team figured out how to resolve conflicts constructively, without damaging relationships.
  • Team members met regularly to offer ideas and assistance to keep the work on schedule.
  • The team won as a team and the leader gave full credit to the team at every public opportunity.

So if you read the title of this post, you may be wondering about compassionate collaboration. The word compassionate, according to Merriam-Webster, means to “be aware of another person’s suffering and aim to alleviate it”.

I believe that when you lead a team, this is your job: to think ahead to what the team needs to be successful, establish those conditions, and alleviate stress points for them. In a nutshell, that is the work of a leader who compassionately collaborates.

This post was originally published on Feb. 27, 2013 at



promo_01Cheryl Bachelder is the CEO of Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen Inc., a multibillion-dollar chain of more than 2,200 restaurants around the world. She is the author of Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results While Serving Others, now available on Amazon. Learn more at



Three Thoughts About Dealing With Weeds …

Weeds“Whoever came up with the phrase “A job well done never needs doing again” obviously never weeded a garden.”


Well, some things just have to be done again and again, don’t they?You can weed the garden all you want, but the weeds return again and again. 

Work is like that much of the time.


No matter how well trained your team becomes, eventually someone moves on or quits, another person joins the group, and you have a new challenge because you have new dynamics.  You have to start over and reteach, hoping that they will learn or relearn what you need them to know.

You have to recognize when things have changed and you need to adjust to a new reality.


Sometimes you find yourself “pulling the same weeds” on a regular basis.  The weeds are occurring because you are not dealing with the root cause.  Maybe it’s time to pour concrete over the grassSmile … or at least, look for the causes, instead of spending your energy on the symptoms or results.

You need to recognize when you are pulling weeds instead of dealing with the root cause … and change that.


Sometimes we find ourselves out kneeling in the dirt, pulling suspicious looking plants out by their roots, just because.   The team is the same and you are being diligent about dealing with root causes.   Sometimes the weeds are simply not within your control.

Sometimes you just have to pull the weeds and get back to productive work, knowing that the weeds may come again.

After all , most weeds are disturbingly hardy and sort of difficult to kill completely.

Looking at some growths and trying to decide if they are weeds or just ugly flowers in the Heartland ….



“Why Leaders Love Catalytic Events” via Great Leaders Serve


VisionHow’s this for a vision?

“Men and women working together, focused on the same outcome and doing the right things well to make the vision a reality.”

Mark Miller

Click the title below for more good thoughts around the “magic” that occurs when people get together with intention and focus:  

Great Leaders Serve – Why Leaders Love Catalytic Events – Great Leaders Serve.

Think about this before your next meeting, retreat, or workshop.

What do you hope happens?

What can you do to make it be so?

Planning with intention and focus in the Heartland ….


Mark Miller of “Great Leaders Serve” provides regular doses of servant leadership wisdom in an authentic and respectful manner.  He is also a prolific and well-received author.  Mark also is partly responsible for the most delicious chicken sandwiches in the Universe, in my totally unbiased opinion.

Squeak At Your Own Risk …


I hate to be a kicker,

I always long for peace, But the wheel that does the squeaking, Is the one that gets the grease.”

Josh Billings (probably)

However …

 The squeaky wheel doesn’t always get greased.

It often gets replaced.”

~ John Peers

This is not the most stirring support for speaking up and speaking out in your organization.  The underlying concept is that when you see something that needs to be addressed, you should say something. 

Too often, we sit silently in meetings or one-on-one’s, thinking one thing, but saying “OK” or “Sure”, instead of what we might like to say.

Peers reminds us that “getting greased” has two distinct meanings:   In one case, you get what you need and in the other …. oops.

Why might those responsible decide to remove the person sounding the alarm, and not fix the problem?

1)  If they do not respond well to how someone is squeaking.  How we say it is sometimes more important than what we say.

2)  If the squeaking is less costly to the organization than the fixing of said squeaking.  Everything broken does not need fixing.

3)  If someone with responsibility would have to take ownership of that which is causing the squeaking and does not wish to do so.  Accountability is not always seen as a positive thing.

4)  When the squeaker only believes they have identified the cause and solution, but do not have all the needed information.  Ready, fire, aim …

5)  When the organizational culture is more “don’t rock the boat” than “Sail the tempestuous seas”.   The squeaking in this case is a far lesser problem than trying to improve a culture.

Maybe the real lesson here is that if you choose to squeak, you better be an essential part of the system or so clear and convincing in what you say that the problem is addressed appropriately, rather than that “oops” I mentioned earlier.

Wondering what made me think about this on a frigid Monday morning in the Heartland ….


A Little Perspective Setting …

Okay, let’s do a quick inventory of what is happening here …

Precision marching in step with dozens of other people … Thumbs up

A large group creating massive and recognizable MOVING pictures … Thumbs up

 In front of thousands of people … Thumbs up

 Oh yeah, while playing musical instruments … Thumbs up

 … and they are not even the main event.

Now, let me get back telling you how hard I have to work to juggle MY priorities … on second thought, never mind.

This is one excellent example of the payoff from organization and mindfulness.   Everyone knows what to do, when to do it, and does so flawlessly.   These folks are paying attention to both planning and execution.

 Can your organization do this as well as these college students? 

 What gets in the way of performance like this?

 How can you create this ability in your organization?

 Wondering just how the heck they do that in the Heartland ….