Domino’s Pizza is known for getting pizza to customers quickly, but it doesn’t take the same approach with its employees. Domino’s and its CEO, Richard Allison, know that focusing on people takes time and can’t be rushed. Of all the ingredients that go into making a delicious Domino’s pizza, the most important is the focus on its people.
I had the chance to talk to Ritch for my book, The Future Leader. With all the moving pieces of leading a massive company and keeping Domino’s at the forefront with innovative ideas like mobile order tracking and ordering with emojis, Ritch holds true to his people. Technology and innovation are important, but it’s nothing without strong people. He believes that in order for leaders to be successful in the future, they must prioritize their employees and create an environment that celebrates and develops future leaders.
Moving People Forward
Being a leader isn’t about sitting in an ivory tower and giving commands—it’s about moving the company and everyone in its towards a better future. People are at the heart of any progress the company makes.
For Ritch, leadership is all about marshalling the collective resources, skills, and energy in the organization towards a vision. He views his job as a leader to make sure all 15,000 Domino’s employees and 300,000 franchise employees are moving in a common direction to build a brand and achieve business goals.
“Every day, those people wake up and make choices all day long about how they’re going to spend their time,” Ritch said. Each day, I only interact with a small handful of them directly. I think part of leadership is trying to make sure that every day, even when you can’t personally be there to guide it, people are committed and passionate about where we’re trying to go, as a company.”
In order to focus on people, Ritch believes leaders must align their teams around objectives so employees know what they’re trying to accomplish together. They make sure everyone on their teams has the resources and capabilities to actually work towards that vision and play their part. That means communicating regularly and being open to feedback. People-focused leaders empower their employees with tools to get the job done instead of simply charting a course without providing the resources.
Developing Future Leaders
Much of a leader’s job is to develop their people and encourage their success. Leaders who focus on people don’t just push the entire company forward—they also invest in individuals and give them resources to grow personally and professionally.
Ritch put it this way: “We have to make sure we’re creating a compelling path of opportunity for people and that we’re investing in their growth and development over time. It used to be that their loyalty was assumed. Now, loyalty has to be earned. What better way to earn that loyalty than by focusing on helping create other leaders?”
Domino’s has done this by evolving its approach to learning and development. Domino’s hires employees at all levels with the goal of growing them into leaders over the next 10 to 15 years. Ritch says the company wants to source the majority of its leaders internally instead of having to go outside and hire them.
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Domino’s Global Operations Leadership Development program, or GOLD, is an immersive four-year experience to build the next generation of Domino’s leaders. The program teaches them the hard skills of running the business, but it is also constantly changing to include training of softer skills that are becoming more crucial for future leaders. Ritch says the program is a work in progress and that the company is investing time to consider how to properly teach the skills, both technical and people-related, that future leaders will need.
Domino’s also offers a huge variety of other training programs for employees in stores, corporate, and the supply chain, with a goal of continually building up their employees.
Future leaders must also continually develop themselves, as well. Ritch says it’s crucial to leaders to take the time and invest in themselves and their own skill development.
Changing Skills For Leaders
Ritch says that over his career, the skills that are important to success have changed. Early in his career, he believed having hard skills was the most important thing because it helped leaders fulfill their responsibilities and get things done.
“Now, in this job as a CEO, it frankly is the softer skills that are more important,” he said. “It’s about setting a vision. It’s about aligning a team against that vision. It’s about motivating people. It’s about developing people and giving them opportunities to grow over time.”
Future leaders must continually develop themselves as the needed skills change, but they won’t be successful if they don’t focus on their people. Great leaders develop other great leaders by giving them opportunities and creating frameworks for development.
Successful leaders and companies are continually developing, but Ritch Allison shows that the secret ingredient is this: focus on people and help them grow.
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