Division Vice President, Franchise Operations

Who was your most influential leadership mentor and why? I once worked with a gentleman named Alan Houston, a senior executive who inspired me because of his commitment to do the right thing. The company we worked for expected high year-over-year growth and he was the first executive I saw who was willing to create the right balance between short-term and long-term results, even if it meant not hitting the target immediately. I developed my philosophy from working with him: Do the right thing, not just the right now thing.

Who in your family had the most impact on your success? Without a doubt, my mom had the biggest impact on me. I grew up in a single-parent home and there were challenges. She always told me not to let anybody look down on me because of my financial situation or cultural background. She instilled in me a strong work ethic and the belief that I must be responsible for my future, and that society doesn’t owe me anything. She was a religious person, and her sense of values and constant support gave me strength of character that I carry with me today.

Headquarters: Miami, Florida
Web site: www.bk.com
Primary Business: Fast food hamburger restaurant
Employees: Approximately 27,000 corporate- and company owned restaurant employees in the U.S.

What is your most rewarding career accomplishment? Being able to take a number of under-performing work groups and turn them into high-performing teams. I’ve been in turnaround situations where I was told to get rid of certain people, or ‘clean house.’ I took a different approach. Through clear communication, people development, goal-setting, and recognition, those same teams were able to do things no one thought they were ever capable of. I’m a big believer in people. If you provide them with a combination of strong leadership, great training, and the right tools, you will make a difference. Most employees want to win, and when you create that environment, they will win.

What’s the worst fault a leader can have? Every leader has some ‘blind spots,’ but the biggest opportunity I’ve seen is when leaders don’t recognize that their teams want to be held to high standards. They want to be accountable and they want to perform at the highest level. Many leaders believe personal popularity can motivate their team to a different level of performance. The problem with that approach is if your primary lever is personal influence, then the moment you do something unpopular, you neutralize your ability to lead. I try to maintain a more formal, professional relationship with my team. The focus stays on the results we need to deliver and a high level of accountability, which positions them for greater rewards. Some leaders think that holding people to high standards will not endear them to you, but I have found it be to just the opposite.