As a company culture and leadership consultant, here's one free tip (not that I'll charge you for the second one either): If you're looking for a CEO to emulate, your man is Danny Meyer, the acclaimed NYC restaurateur and master of hospitality.
It's been an exciting year, of course, for Meyer, who has just now added several hundred million dollars to his personal fortune via his wildly successful Shake Shack IPO. Better still, he did this without being a jerk, without exploiting his workers, without cutting corners. Here are three leadership lessons that I've derived from how Meyer does his work:
1. You don't have to be a bleephole: Capitalism doesn't have to be exploitative, and workers don't have to be exploited.
As Danny (everyone calls him "Danny") says, capitalism works, but capitalism doesn't mean you have to be a, uh, jerk. Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group pays above-market wages, offers great benefits, and is always looking for advancement and development opportunities for his employees, whether they are frontline workers or managers. Meyer is also strongly committed to the local community, which he has visibly improved through the efforts of each of his restaurants in various ways.
2. Practice team leadership.
Even though he's a charismatic leader and the public face of his operations, when you watch Meyer privately at work, what you see is not only a person with a singular vision (which he is), but a leader who collaborates with other leaders on his executive team, all of them as smart in their own area of concentration as Meyer is in his.
3. Don't take away the magic that comes from letting employees design their own way of carrying out their duties.
One thing Danny has shared with me is the importance of a leader striking the right balance between letting employees "do their thing" and being sure to course correct when you see them doing something that goes against your ultimate leadership vision. As he tells me, "The goal is to hire really talented people. And you do need to provide them with riverbanks, but you don't have to tell them how to row the boat, within the river. As a leader you need to make it clear that if you go over the riverbank it's not going to work: to let them know the principles and expectations that matter to me beyond everything else. But within that, I want you to show me some strokes I never even knew existed! It's up to me to define my vision of the destination, but it's not up to me to take away their autonomy, which is what lets them be magical and to innovate along the way."