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