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National Restaurant Association - What makes a great leader? Ask these 6 women

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What makes a great leader? Ask these 6 women

We asked six of the industry’s most successful female executives how to excel at leadership. Here are their tips:

Julia Stewart, chairman/CEO, DineEquity Inc., Applebee’s and IHOP parent, Glendale, Calif.

The No. 1 attribute − and by far the most important − is the ability to articulate a vision internally and externally for the enterprise. When you can clearly communicate your vision, and the role that each person plays in achieving it, people respond. They believe in you, they will follow you, they will invest in your company.


Cheryl Bachelder, president/CEO, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen Inc., Atlanta

When you become the leader, people look to you for four important things: Providing a clear picture of where you are taking the organization; selecting, developing and coaching the people to help them deliver their best work; creating a work environment that brings out the very best in people; and holding the team accountable for delivering performance results.


Lorna Donatone, region chair for North America/CEO of Schools Worldwide, Sodexo Inc.

Be authentic and genuine. Business is made up of people. It’s not about what we sell: the products or the food. It’s about the people. Yes, we have to deliver results; I wouldn’t have gotten where I have if I didn’t. But the team has to be with me for me to succeed. I focus on them and they can feel that. Thinking of people first has made me a better leader.


Roz Mallet, president/CEO, PhaseNext Hospitality, Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

Have clarity when it comes to understanding your own core competencies. Also, never stop learning. Intellectual curiosity is the key to expanding your knowledge base personally and professionally. Finally, work on your leadership style and skills every day and lead with the acknowledgement that ‘it’s not about me.’


Dawn Sweeney, president/CEO, National Restaurant Association

Have the vision to look five and 10 years down the road. Without long-term vision, your team will founder. When they understand the ultimate goals, everyone will pull together. Leadership is never just one person. One person may be great, a hero even, but an individual operating alone isn’t leading anyone.


Clarice Turner, senior vice president, Food & Evenings Americas, Starbucks, Seattle

Be curious. Ask good questions, but also listen, value and leverage diversity of style and thought. Create trust and value to build amazing teams and consistently achieve remarkable results.

For more about women in the restaurant industry, go to America Works Here

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