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McDonalds Corporation Leadership

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McDonald’s: a name synonymous with fast food, quality and innovation. McDonald’s is known worldwide for its Golden Arches symbol and its mascot, Ronald McDonald.

Two brothers from Southern California, Dick and Maurice McDonald, started operating a hot dog/hamburger stand at the Monrovia Airport. Eventually outgrowing that location, they moved the stand to San Bernadino. Realizing that hamburgers were their most popular product, the brothers reinvented their restaurant in 1948 using a concept that was similar to a factory production line. They called their system Speedee Service. This system was unique to the fast food industry. Instead of cooking food at the same time the customer ordered it, with Speedee Service the food was made before being ordered. This system ensured uniformity in product and speed serving the customer. This idea revolutionized the fast food industry.

Ray Kroc was a multi-mixer salesman who sold the McDonald brothers milk shake mixers. When Kroc met the brothers, he found two men running a small but successful restaurant that thrived by having a limited menu. The limited menu allowed them to concentrate on quality and customer service. Kroc had the idea to take the Speedee Service concept and open restaurants nationwide. In 1955, partnering with the McDonald Brothers, Kroc founded the McDonald’s Corporation and opened the first franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois. In 1961 he bought the exclusive rights to the McDonald’s name for 2.7 million dollars. (http://www.mcspotlight.org)

Hamburger University, the McDonald’s training center in Elk Grove, Illinois was opened in 1961. At Hamburger U, franchisees and operators are trained in the methods of successfully running a McDonald’s franchise. To date there have been over 80,000 people who have graduated from the program. (www.aboutmcdonalds.com)

In 1963, McDonald’s introduced Ronald McDonald, the friendly clown who would become the face of the franchise. Two other significant milestones were the opening of the 500th store and selling one billion hamburgers.

In 1965, the McDonald’s Corporation went public. The stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange on May 7, 1966. (http://www.mcspotlight.org)

Ray Kroc always believed in the entrepreneurial spirit and rewarded his franchisees for their ideas. Some of McDonald’s most famous menu items were created by franchisees. Examples are, the Big Mac, introduced in 1968, and the Egg McMuffin, introduced in 1971. The Egg McMuffin was test marketed as McDonald’s first breakfast menu item. (http://www.mcspotlight.org)

As part of McDonald’s philanthropic commitment, the company opened its first Ronald McDonald house in 1974 in Philadelphia, PA. (http://www.mcspotlight.org)The Ronald McDonald house provides a residence free of charge for families whose children are being treated at hospitals away from their hometowns.

Ray Kroc died in 1984; however, the company still forges ahead with new and innovative concepts. McDonald’s introduced the PlayPlace concept in 1987, which features crawl tubes and ball pits for children to play in. The McCafe concept was started in Melbourne, Australia in 1993 and now there are over 600 cafes worldwide. The McExpress restaurants are located in Wal-Mart stores, and connected to gas stations and convenience stores. (http://www.mcspotlight.org)

McDonald’s restaurants are now found in 119 countries and territories around the world and serve 64 million customers each day. McDonald’s operates over 33,000 restaurants worldwide employing more than 400,000 people. (http:www.aboutmcdonalds.com) More than 80 percent of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are independently owned and operated by local men and women, with 70% women/minority US employees, over 25% women/minorities in leadership and 45% women/minority franchisees. (http://www.aboutmcdonalds.com)

We will begin our study of McDonald’s by evaluating the general basics of  leadership. We then move on to break down the key areas to study more in depth, Leadership, Followers and the Situation. We will conclude our study of McDonald’s with the results of our assessment, final thoughts, recommendations and a summary of our findings.

Basics in Leadership

Leading a group is far from an easy task. One must possess several leadership traits, the desire to lead and the disciple to continue to learn and grow each day. One of the greatest challenges for leaders is the different personalities and work experience that each team brings to the table. An effective leader has the ability to encourage their followers to put aside their professional and personal differences in order to come together as a cohesive unit that will work together to meet the mission of the organization.

According to Bruce Bagley, leadership is the ability to guide and motivate a group of people to a common purpose. Therefore, a leader should possess the ability to drive their followers towards a common goal (10 Questions about leadership).

According to Marjorie Bowman, leadership means making a difference, creating a positive change; providing the impetus that creates an atmosphere of change that improves the world, or at least the small part of the world around us. Leadership is the stretch of changing things that can be changed, of providing new thinking, new energy, to the current situation (10 Questions about leadership).

Leadership involves an interaction between the Leader, the Followers and the Situation. If leader, followers and situation are set, the intercept of these sets is defined by leadership. Therefore, leadership is the process by which a leader sees a situation and directs followers to achieve a common goal. Here, leader is the person in action to direct a group of followers. Followers are the people who take orders from leader. Lastly situation is the scenario or problem where action is needed to reach to a common goal.

What it takes to become a leader? In an organization, every personnel need direction form a leader to implement effectively and achieve the targeted goal in time to run the whole organization as a unit. Such a superior is called a leader. In order to become a leader, one should possess leadership qualities, enhance the mission of the organization through mutual votes, and motivate followers through incentives.

Leaders are not all alike, but they do share many common characteristics. Leaders differ from their followers and effective leaders differ from ineffective leaders on various personality traits, cognitive abilities, skills and values (Hughes). There persist many scenarios where leader from one scenario differ from others. For example, approach and functions of a leader in a military campaign differs vastly from that of the leader in an organization. A leader in military campaign has to be aggressive and communication mostly flows one direction. In contrast, in a business organization, a leader gives order but also takes suggestions from subordinates for better decisions. Therefore, leaders differ from scenario to scenario.

Leader’s experience of history in a particular organization is important to his/her effectiveness. For example, leaders if a leader is promoted within an organization, he/ she will have advantages in hitting the job running. Compared to leaders from outside the organization, insider leaders will have better understanding of the followers and situation, efficiently solve the situation.

Power and Influence: Using power and influence to maximize organizational performance is essential for a leadership. When an organizational goal is assigned or missioned, what is a key that can drive followers to follow steps imagined by a leader? Therefore, a leader should hold that power and influence while leading followers to a common goal.

Power, in leadership performance, is leader’s scholar or experience that determines why such a leader is superior among the group of followers. For example, Steve Jobs was an influential leader of Apple Co. and his strategies for organizational performance were outstanding. If a random guy “X” wanted to lead Apple Co, his credentials similar to CEO will be first questioned by the subordinates and then only he would be given the position as CEO. Therefore, source of power comes from something that both a leader already possess and given by subordinates.

Influence comes after power is established in an organization. Beside several motivating tools used by leaders to achieve a common goal, influence stands as a good impression that makes subordinates feel easy and extra motivated towards performance. For example, in company Y, if a leader X has all powers to run followers towards a goal, his dedication towards current organization can be influential to followers. This feel of impression can lead followers to put similar devotion towards organizational performance.

Leaders, born or made: People think that if leader is either in one’s genes or not; other also think that it is built though knowledge and experience. These view of leaders are born not made is just a myth and what constitutes a leader is in fact how a person has ability to handle a situation in leading followers. For example, though an intelligence quality of a teacher comes from genetically from parents, he/she must have advanced education in a specialized field. Therefore, to become a leader natural talents or characteristics may offer certain advantages or disadvantages but cognitive abilities and personality traits are at least partly innate (Hughes, page 17).

Ability to see from followers’ eye: A leader should be able to critically think from followers’ point of view. Each follower in a group has different level of potential, and could have better way in solving problem and leading the functions towards goal achievement. Similarly, a follower may have problems in contribution efforts in daily activities. A leader should be able to find discrepancy in work force and find what can be done to make the efforts smoother. Therefore, a leader should take followers perspective in daily activities and altogether in achieving a common goal.

Other significant components to become a leader in an organization: According to Hogan and Warrenfelz, the skills and behavior of a leader constitute four categories. Intrapersonal skills: a leader has these skills to adapt stress level in goal orientation, and in adhering organization rules. Interpersonal skills: a leader has these skills to communicate, direct, build relationship with follower and other organizational personnel. Leader skills: these skills in leaders help them to build teams effectively and get results through other concisely. Business skills help leader to analyze issues, make decisions, financial savvy and strategic thoughts in achieving organizational goals (Hughes, page 273)

McDonalds is a company committed to people; both customers and employees. A part time job at McDonalds can turn into a long-term career because there are many opportunities for advancement. Most of McDonalds employees are under 20 years of age and 70% of them are students (Navaz, 2011). The student/employees are usually open to flexible schedules and unsuitable hours. McDonalds is willing to work with their schedules more than other fast food companies, which is why students prefer employment at McDonalds. They are also drawn towards discounted or free meals and other miscellaneous rewards, such as trips or tickets to the movies (Navaz, 2011).

The key to the company’s success is its strong leadership practices (www.streetdirectory.com). According to aboutMcDonalds.com, McDonalds was rated the most admired company in the world in 2011. That same year they were rated the best place for diverse managers to work and number one in management quality. The employees of McDonalds implement a global strategy called, “plan to win.” The plan to win focuses on people; products, place, price and promotion (Goldman, 2011). Due to excellent marketing campaigns, people are aware of its existence and the products offered. The company strives to provide customers with “an experience” by providing quality food at a great value, in a clean and welcoming environment. The restaurants are bright, casual and provide a sense of nostalgia. The price of McDonalds products are one its customers can afford. The company cares about its people and views its customers as the reason for its existence. Customers expect the food to taste good, be quick and not cost a lot and that is what McDonalds offer.

The company has a number of initiatives in place to motivate employees and build loyalty. McDonalds motivates their employees through their educational assistance program and through scholarships. They also offer a “McScholar of the Year,” by awarding three student-employees a $5000 scholarship. McDonald’s is the only restaurant organization that awards college credits from the American Council of Education. While at Hamburger University employees can earn actual college credits. Working at McDonalds also offers competitive wages, free uniforms, paid holidays and vacation. They also provide medical, dental and life insurance (aboutmcdonalds.com).

The convenient locations of McDonalds are another reason for their success. McDonalds are usually in easily assessable locations, off US highways. Over half the population lives within 3 miles of a McDonalds, this makes it very convenient for students that do not yet drive to travel to work (www.kiev.info/food/mcdonalds.htmMcDonalds). McDonalds is now a brand name, which makes it easy to sell a product. McDonalds attract both young and old customers and employees and they always looking for new ways to bring in people. The current marketing initiative is free WIFI (www.business-standard.com).

Teamwork among employees is crucial for McDonalds to operate efficiently and the corporation recognizes this. They take a task and break it down into small tasks; this was called McDonaldisation (Navaz, 2011). McDonalds uses an assembly line to prepare food to ensure a high quality product and high performance of the employees (aboutMcDonalds.com). Each employee is trained to do a specific job; cashier, fries, drive through, etc. If they leave their post other members of the team will not be able to do their job and the entire assembly line will suffer. The order is then passed on to the kitchen and grill stations, sandwich maker, etc. Without teamwork McDonalds would not be the successful organization it is today. From the moment a customer enters the restaurant and places an order with the cashier; teamwork is present.

The team members are not self-reliant but depend on direct input from management. The management’s job is to motivate employees, keep them productive and morale high. A study done reveals McDonald’s managers possess mentality, “which complies more with the Taylor’s scientific theory in which, according to them, the crew members are likely to work harder when they are being pressured and supervised closely for the maximum expected output” (Navaz, 2011). Management attends Hamburger University, which provides extensive leadership training. The company has implemented the effective motivation strategy that is based on the existing motivation theories.

The situation is the third critical part of the leadership equation. (Hughes, 2009) The situation can be anything from specific tasks to a wide variety of scenarios. At, McDonalds, the situation is generally how the managers and employees interact with customers to meet their expectations. Customers are the one unpredictable variable in a stores day, customers will come in, but what mood or desires they have constantly change. That is the daily situational challenge for employees.

We place the customer experience at the core of all we do. (http://about mcdonalds.com) Customers are why McDonald’s exists, without the person who walks or drives into the restaurant, there would be no McDonald’s. McDonald’s demonstrates their appreciation by providing with high quality food, and superior service in a clean, welcoming environment, at a great value. The goal of McDonald’s is quality, service, cleanliness, and value for each and every customer, each and every time. (http://about mcdonalds.com)

To ensure that they provide a consistent customer experience, McDonald’s takes pride in being a premier educational and training institution. They prepare managers to operate multi-million dollar businesses through leadership training at Hamburger University. McDonald’s continually looks for opportunities to provide employees with the tools they will need to be successful. McDonald’s is a leader when it comes to diversity and inclusion, developing curriculum that teaches employees how to move from awareness to action in the areas of inclusion and intercultural management. (http://about mcdonalds.com) McDonalds is a leader in mentor/mentee relationships across the entire organization. They pair up advisor and learners then use web based tools, formal and informal training sessions to incorporate learning. All of the training, interaction and cultural awareness is designed to make the experience of every customer a good one and keep them coming in to McDonald’s

McDonald’s should be given credit for increasing the standards of service around the world. When McDonalds opened restaurants in Hong Kong in 1975, they offered consistently clean restrooms. This was unique to Asia and it drove customers to demand this service at other restaurants and institutions. In China, McDonald’s is taking advantage of the use of personal vehicles by opening drive-thru restaurants. McDonald’s has opened a restaurant and a McCafe on the underground premises of the French museum, The Louvre. McDonald’s now offers free wireless internet service at restaurants worldwide. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald’s) When you increase the service standard, you make the situation more predictable.

McDonald’s is a leader, and innovator in bridging the gap between leaders, followers and the situation (customer expectations).

As we enter the New Year, our nation’s economic outlook remains dreary. In a time with high unemployment rates and businesses cracking under the pressure of a troubled market, McDonald’s has managed to remain on top. What is their secret that has carried them through these turbulent times and has aided them in not only remaining one of the top players within the fast-food industry but has allowed them to financially prosper?

When asked how McDonald’s has been able to thrive, Karen Wells, a top company executive, explains their success boils down to two main components – listening to customers and maintaining a cohesive bond between their franchisees, suppliers and corporate staff. “We believe in the McDonald’s System. McDonald’s business model, depicted by our “three-legged stool” of owner/operators, suppliers, and company employees, is our foundation, and balancing the interests of all three groups is key.” (AboutMcDonald’s.com) They have found triumph in choosing to pay attention to the few things that can truly add value to the company rather than waste time measuring areas that may or may not affect their overall goals. Instead, McDonald’s continues to streamline business practices and focus on what they have found their customers are most interested in. The best way they have found to maintain a strong and prosperous environment is to continue heavily investing in their multi-level training programs for employees. To get the best, you must provide the best is a philosophy that McDonald’s has been following since opening their doors in 1952.


Many view McDonald’s as being a “McJoke” – offering low-paying and low-skill work to our uneducated population. If this holds true, then why do business schools worldwide dissect their business practices? They clearly on are to something as they have been able to transform a once small hamburger stand into a multi-billion dollar empire that extends their reach to all corners of the earth.

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management professor, Edward Zajac, describes McDonald’s as being “a slice of the U.S., like Coca Cola.” They have grown to become one of the few businesses in American history to exceed selling products and services to its customers.

To speak of McDonald’s as a leader within its market, in terms of power and influence, it is important to define these key terms. Power is described as the capacity to produce effects on others, or the potential to influence others. Influence is described as the change in a target agent’s attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors as the result of influence tactics.

We believe in the McDonald’s System. McDonald’s business model, depicted by our “three-legged stool” of owner/operators, suppliers, and company employees, is our foundation, and balancing the interests of all three groups is key

Jim Skinner, current CEO, acknowledges that during McDonald’s more than 55 years of service, they have transformed into one of the most recognized and sought out brands around the world. Holding such a high status within its industry, Skinner stresses the importance of utilizing their acquired power and influence to help improve not only their business practices but also the world around them. Skinner notes that being held to such a high standard is not only a privilege but an ongoing responsibility as well. In wielding such power and influence across the world, it is imperative that McDonald’s continue to practice good corporate social responsibility that makes way for positive change that affects their customers, their community and environment. Ways in which they meet these needs is by using their clout and muscle to create constructive change within the areas of: nutrition and well-being, sustainable supply chair, environmental responsibility, employee experience and community (Message from Jim Skinner). “We give back to our communities. We take seriously the responsibilities that come with being a leader. We help our customers build better communities, support Ronald McDonald House Charities, and leverage our size, scope and resources to help make the world a better place.” (AboutMcDonald’s.com) Additional measures begin at the restaurant level to reduce the use of energy, which is then followed by taking steps at the industry and market levels by evolving the menu to address the balance and choice – to promoting the use of sustainable sourcing.

What are the strategies that McDonald’s uses to retain their power and influence within their market? In order to remain competitive and hold the top spot, McDonald’s has developed programs and tactics for attracting and maintaining talented employees. Understanding the importance that education and training holds in today’s society, it has been estimated that McDonald’s invests over $480 million annually in providing topnotch training to all employees – regardless of the level of their role they fill. Considering the demographic that are most often found working behind the counters, this can be life changing for those who are affected by poor education poverty as they are offered the same training opportunities. McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, was known for his strong emphasis on finding and maintaining quality employees with strong work ethic and a desire to strive for higher achievements: “If we are going to go anywhere, we’ve got to have talent. And, I’m going to put my money in talent.”

Kroc’s dedication to the overall betterment of his company was evident in his belief that every person working for the company is of equal importance. He placed the same value on those who held positions within the restaurants and those who held top executive positions at corporate headquarters. McDonald’s estimates that more than 50% of their owner operators started off behind the counter as well as 75% of their current restaurant managers (McDonald’s.Com). To further call attention to the opportunities for growth provided, Skinner is not a graduate of college. He was able to make his way from the bottom to the top and now holds the position of CEO. This is a true testament to their commitment of providing quality training and education from the bottom up. It is this management style that will ensure the Golden Archers remain a powerful and influential icon within our culture for many years to come.

The main focus of McDonald’s training and educational programs is the mastering of leadership skills. “We strive continually to improve. We are a learning organization that aims to anticipate and respond to changing customer, employee and system needs through constant evolution and innovation.” (AboutMcDonald’s.com) Over the course of our studies, we have learned the importance of quality leadership and how one obtains the skill sets needed to be effective and influential in their roles. According to McDonald’s website, they have two primary educational tracks employees can follow Restaurant Operations Leadership Practices and Business Leadership Practices.

Restaurant Operations Leadership Practices teaches participants the following:

•Use appropriate leadership approaches to develop high-performing teams and individuals
•Recognize the importance of team building and use appropriate tools and techniques to help teams reach their full potential
•Develop skills in leading teams

•Prioritize restaurant needs to improve people, QSC&V, profit and sales
•Diagnose and correct factors leading to poor quality food
•Develop a Restaurant Improvement Plan
•Use tools and techniques to develop teams
•Identify strategies to build employee commitment
•Prepare and conduct performance reviews
•Develop the skills to lead others in Operational Excellence in service quality, product quality, and maintaining restaurant equipment •Translate classroom activities into action plans

Business Leadership Practices teaches restaurant managers the following:

•Awareness of how adopting and fostering accountability can impact business results •An understanding of how creative thinking techniques can be applied to operational challenges within the restaurant •Understanding of how they can better develop restaurant talent to improve business results •Understanding of the social responsibility culture at McDonald’s and with motivation and ideas for incorporating social responsibility activities into their businesses •Build fundamental business planning skills, and practice promoting a positive image of McDonald’s in an effort to build community relationships

These are just a few of the many ways McDonald’s guarantees its sustainability as one of the most powerful and influential entities within the fast food industry. In analyzing their business practices, you are able to see the effectiveness of providing an environment that encourages education and training as a gateway to continued growth in the areas concerning power and influence. “We provide opportunity, nurture talent, and develop leaders and reward achievement. We believe that a team of well-trained individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences, working together in an environment that fosters respect and drives high levels of engagement, is essential to our continued success.” (AboutMcDonald’s.com)


“Our values are not just words on the page or inspirational sentiments about who we strive to be. They underline our everyday decision-making.”

Values are “constructs representing generalized behaviors or states of affairs that are considered by the individual to be important” (Hughes, p 168). Your values play a key role in your day-to-day decision-making process. Roy Kroc believes “what is good for us, is good for us all” and this is the tone that he set for his staff to follow as well.

McDonald’s Mission and Corporate Values (AboutMcDonald’s.com)

“McDonald’s brand mission is to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat. Our worldwide operations are aligned around a global strategy called the Plan to Win, which center on an exceptional customer experience – People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion. We are committed to continuously improving our operations and enhancing our customers’ experience.”

How do you align your employee’s values with that of the company? This is where effective recruitment becomes important. McDonald’s is very forward with their value system and their intent to attract those who share the same ideals. Values play a central role in leadership which is why it is important to McDonald’s that fill their offices and restaurants with individuals who are able to choose right from wrong, and between ethical and unethical behavior. Mr. Skinner expresses that their actions are guided by their values and they hold themselves to high standards of honesty, fairness and integrity. You can see how they value the importance of transparency within their company as their business practices and annual reports are made available on their website. A good leader earns respect from their followers by being open, honest and trustworthy. These have been, and continue to be, the core values of McDonald’s. “Sound ethics is good business. At McDonald’s, we hold ourselves and conduct our business to high standards of fairness, honesty, and integrity. We are individually accountable and collectively responsible.” (AboutMcDonald’s.com)

In studying the actions of Mr. Skinner during his 35-year tenure with McDonald’s, it is clear which work ethics are in the forefront of his leadership process. You can narrow down his most commonly used values as being altruistic and affiliation. His altruistic values are evident in his commitment to helping those that are needy and powerless and to improve society. His affiliation values can be seen in his enjoyment of meeting new people and working in team environments. He encourages staff to take on the same value system as he feels it is a sure way to success.

Another area of importance to McDonald’s is their promise of “doing the right thing.” A great illustration to showcase this practice is in regards to recent attacks from the media and activist groups for their contribution in the ongoing obesity crisis our country is facing. Mr. Skinner, as CEO, showed his character when he stepped up to the plate and vowed to help promote healthy lifestyle choices. To do this, he reshaped the fast food industry by creating healthier menu choices as well as emphasized the importance of wellness and nutrition.

Defining moments such as these shows the value of the four qualities of true leadership that Bennis and Goldsmith (Hughes, pg 167) introduced: vision, empathy, consistent and integrity. It is Mr. Skinner’s innate ability to utilize these skill sets that separate him from the rest. You can see his confidence in his leadership skills as he went against the grain by accepting partial responsibility of the obesity epidemic and made proactive changes without being forced.

A final area to note is the value placed on learning the cultural differences of the areas that McDonald’s resides in. The company has expanded their restaurants to over 140 countries which makes it very important that we learn and respect the different ways of life in each area that we serve. It is especially important to be aware and sensitive to the differences in leadership in different cultures. McDonald’s has adapted their training programs to the specific value system of each area.


In order to achieve the high standards set forth by company executives, McDonald’s seeks out leaders who possess the same philosophies, values and management styles as those demonstrated early on by founder Ray Kroc. Research shows the ownership of certain traits alone does not guarantee leadership success. When studying past and current effective leaders, there is evidence that shows how they stand apart from others. Traits of top leaders include, but are not limited to the following: drive, energy, tenacity, initiative, honesty and integrity, general knowledge, technical knowledge, emotional stability and team work. According to Shelley Kirkpatrick of the University of Maryland, these key traits help leaders acquire necessary skills; formulate an organizational vision and an effective plan for pursuing it and take the necessary steps to implement the vision in reality. (Leadership: Do Traits Matter?)

It is well known that there is an ongoing debate over whether one is born with leadership skills or if they are learned over time. An in-depth study of this very topic in our high performance leadership course introduced us to a wealth of expert opinions as well as real life stories supporting both sides of the argument. The cohorts of our class have combined the study of this topic as well as our individual on-the-job experiences to conclude that an effective leader is a blend of innate qualities, education and real life knowledge.

As current CEO, Mr. Skinner believes that to attract leaders you must present yourself (organization) as a leader in your given market that welcomes challenges and unpredictable circumstances as these are what pushes the mold and gives you the opportunity to venture out and tackle issues in new and innovative ways. Psychologist Warren Bennis and colleague Burt Nanus state that “power is a leader’s currency, or the primary means through which the leader gets things done in the organization. A leader must want to gain the power to exercise influence over others. Also, power is an “expandable pie,” not a fixed sum; effective leaders give power to others as a means of increasing their own power. Effective leaders do not see power as something that is competed for but rather as something that can be created and distributed to followers without detracting from their own.” (Academy of Management Executive – Kirkpatrick and Locke)

Top executives at McDonald’s recognize the need for leaders who understand that leadership does not happen overnight. It is an ongoing lifestyle that you must maintain in order to continue to be the most effective and influential leader you can be. The secret is in your daily studies. It is a complicated area to master that has many components that range anywhere from “respect, experience, emotional strength, people skills, discipline, vision, momentum and timing.” (Academy of Management Executive)

Every organization looks to their leaders to master similar skill sets as a good foundation for effective leadership; however, each organization chooses to seek out certain traits more than others that meet their overall image and style. For example, the traits needed to lead a military troop will be very different from the traits needed to run a fortune 500 company. One may fit the role of leader within on position but may fail to meet the required needs to lead in another.

Through many public appearances and interviews, McDonald’s had been very open in what they want and except from their followers that hold positions of power and influence. Below is a list of some of the most desired traits that Mr. Skinner looks for in his top employees.

Ideal Traits that McDonald’s Employees Possess
•Team Unity
•General intelligence
•Analytic intelligence

The most important aspect of quality leadership, according to Mr. Skinner, is team unity. McDonald’s prides itself on the importance it places on creating and maintaining an integrated, reliable and productive team. One of the main traits McDonald’s looks for in their leaders is the ability to execute this type of leadership style without flaw. From the top down, their company works together as a cohesive unit. An effective leader is one who has the ability to delegate responsibility to employees they deem as competent in getting the job done right and in such a way that is aligned with the mission of the organization. Encouraging your subordinates to achieve successes in the spirit of the corporation can be done by showing you view them as intelligent, dependable, trustworthy and efficient. In setting this tone, your followers will be more inclined to express their loyalty by producing quality work in a timely manner.


‘Your track record certainly stacks up and gives us confidence we can count on you to achieve bottom line results. But what also impressed us in your case was how you get things done’.

We’ve discussed the important traits and skill sets that are attractive to companies who are looking to fill leadership roles. Once you have selected a leader, how do you measure their effectiveness? Measuring leadership behavior is different than measuring other areas of organizations, i.e., financial stability. When auditing a company’s financials, there is a set method and formulas to utilize to ensure goals are being met. Unfortunately, there is no “set” method that will evaluate and rate leadership. What one company may view as a necessity, another may not. In order to gauge leadership behavior is to assess tangible results. These are the results that you can see – satisfied customers, increased sales, expansion of company, etc. Leadership behavior is of specific importance as these are the steps that are taken by your selected leader to meet the current needs of your organization.

As there are no universal frameworks for measuring the effectiveness of behavior, McDonald’s tailored their own assessment to meet their needs. First, they identified the most essential leadership behaviors needed to support their company. Next, they had to determine how they would measure the behaviors exhibited by their leaders. They chose to utilize the following methods to get a thorough understanding of the effectiveness of their current business practices. McDonald’s relies on direct observation, multi-rater feedback, surveys and pre-existing assessment models. In turning to several different styles of measurement, McDonald’s is able to go straight to the leaders, employees, suppliers and consumers to get direct feedback. Mr. Skinner stresses the importance that McDonald’s is a united team – from the bottom up – and it is necessary to measure all areas of the organization.

Why is it significant to monitor the behaviors within your organization? It provides opportunity to enhance better selection, to promote or reward loyal employees and/or to reach a decision to terminate those who are not helping meet the organization’s goals. With the input of employees and customers, top executives at McDonald’s can create training programs that are tailored for the specific areas in needs of improvement.

Constructive criticism and observation are both the driving forces that lead to internal and external improvement of the organization. It supplies the company opportunities to alter their behavior and to discover methods to operate at a higher level.

Raising the bar of quality customer service and wonderful career opportunities, McDonald’s takes advantage of collecting feedback in order to learn how to better perform and which leadership behaviors are of most importance and most effective for their targeted market.

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