My first job ever was McDonalds, just like probably 65 percent of the human population. The day I turned 15 years old, I had my work permit in hand, and I was hired on the spot at my local McDonald’s, I was absolutely ecstatic. Well, over the next year, I learned so much, that the store manager decided to make me a manager the day I turned 16 years old. What a great idea. This decision dictated my life for the next 13 years. McDonald’s is not a bad job, because you learn alot of life making decisions at McDonald’s, just the money isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Overall, I learned 5 Valuable Things about Leadership, maybe more, but I’ll give you the top 5.
#1: Value Your People
People are precious, especially hard working people that are money motivated, and willing to give you thier all for the next 8 hours of thier shift. Really, there is nothing better than people that are all in for your business. Your bottom line is thier bottom line, so the bottom line, is take care of them. Give them the hours they want and need. Give them the grace they need, but most importantly, give them the praise they deserve. Employees come and go, but dedicated employees are hard to come by. When you value your people, you play them to thier strengths, you know thier strengths, and you know thier weaknesses. On busy days, let them shine, by placing them where they are strong at. On slow days, help them improve and motivate them to get better at the things that they are not so good at. The whole purpose of training your people, is to raise up the next tier of leaders. When you value your people, you give them confidence and prove to them that they are indeed valuable.
#2: A Good Leader Gets Thier Knees Dirty
When you are a good leader, you don’t mind showing your employees that you are willing to do the work it takes to help get the job done. It all falls back on how much you value your people, that you are not a slave driver, but a caring employer that is dedicated in meeting the bottom line, and that’s sales. Slave drivers sit back and crack whips while thier slaves make them money, but a good business leader will motivate his people through his dedication, his actions, and his sacrafice, by stepping in and leading by example. A leader that leads by example will have a great following, and with a great following comes great success. Success starts with a great vision, but it ends with the people that you utilize as a business owner to help accomplish the task at hand to reach the overall goal.
#3: Don’t Abuse Your Authority
Employees do not repsond to abusive leadership. I’m not sure if we understand communism, or have taken notes from Fidel Castro, but dictatorships just don’t provide great results. With that said, people don’t want to be forced into hard labor. People don’t want to feel like the Israelites in Egypt, people want to be lead. People want to see that there is hope at the end of the tunnel. Most employees will not follow an employer that tries to lead by force. People are not obligated to work for you, and when the opportunity arises for them to quit, they will. Think about it this way, like a quarterback that has lost his football team, the offensive line will not block for you, the running backs will not run for you, and the receivers will not catch for you. If you lose your team as a business owner, the chance at success is next to nil, and your career as a business owner, is likely over. *WARNING* If this is you, it is not to late to make it right, sincerely apologize to your crew, and show them that you are dedicated to working with them, rather than them working for you.
#4: Make Hard Decisions Under Pressure
A good leader can make decisions on the fly, but a great leader can make tough decisions on a fly. Imagine being short handed in a store that requires 4-5 people to operate, and you only have 2 or 3, what do you do? As a great leader, you will play your people at their strengths, and make decisions to operate the business successfully. These decisions might not be orthodox, but they may be effective. The best way to learn how to make these decisions is to practice them, and to have a plan in place on how to react when situations arise. No day will be perfect, and you will experience short comings in your daily operations, but if you have a team that respects you, they will work for you. If your willing to lead by example, your team will follow you. If you value your people, then the transition in tough days will be that much easier because they will be willing to compensate for you.
#5: Know Your Numbers
Any person that has worked at McDonald’s in a leadership role, knows that McDonald’s is more about numbers than food. It’s about seconds, how fast can we make the food when it comes in? How fast can we get the customer in and out? How fast do we respond to a dilemma? How long is this food good for? Without these questions, we could not develop a criteria to rate the customer’s experience. Remember customer’s come once, but clientele come back over and over again, and invest in your business. It is our duty to maximize our services every time we approach a job. It is our duty to give our client our very best work. It is our duty to evaluate our service, so that we can make it better every single time.
Overall, I recommend that every young person start at McDonald’s, even as an employee, you learn great valuable tools that not only can you use in business, but in every day life. Valuable lessons are hard to come by, but when you learn them, you don’t forget them. These are just a few things that I learned in leadership in McDonald’s, and they’ve prepared me to run my own business. I pray they are helpful to you as a business owner. If there is any questions, please feel free to contact me.