Two Ingredients of leadership; structure and systems

Fascinating story of Peggy Cherng Co-Chair and Co-CEO of Panda Express and how she and her husband grew their one small restaurant into a billion dollar empire. Peggy talks of her husband's struggle of maintaining and growing their one small Panda Inn restaurant back in the '80s where when they both saw the potential to cultivate and expand something unique, they decided to give it the old college try. Fast forward today, Panda Express has over 1,900 stores globally and still continues to grow.

What allowed Peggy and her husband to take their small business to the next level? Has Peggy become somewhat of a leader? I say yes. A leader in the sense that she had a vision and was able to lead her troops to that vision. She and her troops achieved a goal. The fascinating part about her story is her use of the philosophy of structure and systems. Actually this is not a philosophy if you really think about it. In other words, look around you. Look at your city and how it operates with signal lights, street lights, sewage systems, and a government. That is a set of systems inside of a structure that allows your city to operate efficiently and effectively. So, inside of Panda Express, Peggy developed a system and a structure to help manage the business. Simple dimple right?

Of course it's simple. If you own a business or are at the head of a business and you can't operate the place profitably or you can't manage the day to day then you need a system and some structure. Some might say, "no way, I have a system". Well, if that is the case, how come things aren't going well?

Another aspect of Peggy's success that I find so fascinating is her philosophy of her employees. Peggy states in this interview, "employees come first, guests come second, and financials come third". That is powerful as employees truly are the most valuable asset in any organization. I've said that for years and it's interesting to see a successful business person basically say the same thing. Pay attention to your employees.

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Categories: Leadership

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