Crisis makes a CEO.
True leaders shine the brightest in the darkest times. In those moments of extreme adversity, a leader’s reaction to the trouble can be a telling detail that foreshadows the future of a company.
In Steve Ritchie’s case the future looks bright.
Ritchie initially made headlines as the charming, newly appointed CEO of Papa John’s. He got his start at the world’s third largest pizza delivery company in 1996. He made $6 an hour then. Ten years later, Ritchie had become a franchise owner and operator.
By 2014 Steve Ritchie had worked his way up to Chief Operating Officer and became President of the company in 2015. It’s clear that Steve Ritchie worked his way up from the bottom. He’s exactly the self-made beacon to lead Papa John’s and there’s three reasons in particular why he’s especially qualified to succeed in the company’s top role.
- A Sense of Compassion
In a direct letter to customers, Steve Ritchie showed compassion to the feelings certain customers may have after recent headlines and events. The new CEO distanced himself and the company from previously made statements and actions that were not reflective of Papa John’s company values.
- A Refreshing Sense of Accountability
In the same letter, Ritchie took accountability for any missteps associated with the company and outlined behaviors that would no longer be tolerated at Papa John’s.
- Transparency in Execution
Steve Ritchie understood that frustrated customers didn’t need or want lip-service. He offered much-needed action steps the company would take to regain the public’s trust.
All three qualities are necessary for leadership that inspires followers and unites companies. In his open letter to Papa John’s customers, Steve Ritchie exhibited them all efficiently.
A CEO, Not a Boss
The ability to adjust to uncomfortable situations and lead through trying times are qualities every exceptional leader needs to embody. Gracefully handling a company crisis and shifting the business into a new and brighter future requires a skill set that many bosses simply don’t possess.
That’s what separates a boss from a Chief Executive Officer. It’s the difference between a light bulb and the North Star. In Steve Ritchie, it would appear that Papa John’s has found their North Star.