"The Master value is trust. There are no relationships that can survive for very long without it."

- Jim Amos

The Importance of Servant Leadership to a Franchise Organization

October 24th, 2012

How to lead a team, earn respect and grow a business

One reason why I love franchising is that it’s a perfect place to operate as a servant leader — someone focused on inspiring other people and helping them realize their goals.

Leaders need to be able to inspire everyone around them to work toward a common purpose, offering a clear vision of the path forward and enunciating the values that will guide the journey. The best leaders also listen closely to other people, seek input and let people know that they are appreciated.

Being the head of an organization, as I am, can make some people feel lofty. I find it humbling. I know that while I fill an incredibly important role at Tasti D-Lite and Planet Smoothie, I rely on the strength of my corporate team and franchise owners for my success.

Some of the keys that have helped me succeed during my three decades in the franchise industry:

Moral consistency

Situational ethics and management are poisonous to success, whether in business or in life. Leaders who know what is right but who fail to do it out of cowardice or expediency hurt their businesses and sacrifice respect.

Being a servant leader means that you put other people first. That means that sometimes you’ll need to make hard decisions to protect your organization. By acting honestly, you build the trust necessary to guide your team past difficulty.

Listening to every stakeholder

As a franchisor, you must be willing to listen to every stakeholder. Franchise owners pour their money and energy into their businesses and deal directly with customers, and their passion and insights are incredibly valuable to the growth of a franchise system.

At the home office, it’s important to have open communication among all executives. I’m a fan of leadership councils, which bring together all of the presidents and vice presidents of various departments once a week to share ideas for improvement.

At leadership council meetings, we drop our regular titles and responsibilities and work to cross-pollinate good ideas. Each person there understands that their ultimate job is to serve Tasti D-Lite’s and Planet Smoothie’s franchise owners and customers. The best way we can do that is by listening carefully to what everyone has to say.

Moving forward


Leaders must be able to motivate people to action through force of personality, vision and relationships.

Not everyone is motivated the same way, and business opportunities frequently change, so leaders must adapt their behavior to meet the needs of the group while staying positive, confident and goal-oriented.

They must also cultivate leadership traits in others. Good leaders duplicate themselves by finding top performers and helping them build their skills. Servant leaders appreciate people and want to help them grow and prosper as individuals.

The servant leader asks the same simple, six-word question, whether they’re talking to a fellow professional seeking to boost their career or a franchise owner looking to improve their business:

“How can I help you grow?”

Tasti D-Lite chairman and CEO Jim Amos has more than 30 years of experience guiding successful franchise companies such as Mail Boxes Etc. He was inducted into the International Franchise Association’s Hall of Fame in February and is co-author of the newly-released book The Tasti D-Lite Way: Social Media Marketing Lessons for Building Loyalty and a Brand Customers Crave (McGraw-Hill).


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