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Posted on Oct 20, 2017

Values in Leadership: Managing 3 McDonald’s Restaurants

Values in Leadership: Managing 3 McDonald’s Restaurants

Cheryl Hunter got into the franchise business over 40 years ago, with International Dairy Queen. She then worked with the McDonald’s Corporation for 17 years, where she managed 300 restaurants and 5 departments. But after hitting up against a “glass celling” she decided to leave the corporate world and purchase some franchises of her own.

For 16 years, Cheryl ran three McDonald’s restaurants in Johnston County, North Carolina.

One of the things Cheryl learned while working in McDonald’s corporate office was the importance of operating principles and values. If you can model the values and articulate them with passion, you can then make a tremendous impact through all levels of management.

She also recognized that values could be used to hold people accountable.

Operating Principles

For her franchise business, Cheryl selected the following operating principles (or values), which she based on Biblical principles:

  • Doing it right the first time
  • Doing it right when no one is looking
  • Pupil to learn as much as the teacher
  • Honesty and Integrity
  • Care about the person as much as the task

A great quote from Cheryl is: “Your values aren’t your values unless you’re living them.” She says if you only pay lip service to them no one will pay attention to the values when you talk about them.

Watch a short segment of the interview to hear a few of the great insights offered by Cheryl.


In the full interview video – which you can watch here – Cheryl talks about these operating principles in greater detail.

When Pupils are Equal to Their Teacher

Looking at the third principle – the pupil to learn as much as the teacher – Cheryl felt strongly that there are lots of opportunity in this world, and if she could elevate everyone up a level, then the teacher could move on to the next thing too.

She also talked often with managers about who was ready to be promoted, so they would have someone ready to take their place and ensure “students would be equal to their teacher in knowledge.

Honesty and Integrity

Regarding the fourth principle – honesty and integrity – one of Cheryl’s favorite sayings was:

We can solve anything, as long as you don’t lie to me, you don’t steal from me, and you don’t mess with my young men or young women.”

Coming out of a corporate environment, something Cheryl recognized as being important was for all employees to feel secure in their jobs. She didn’t want anyone living in fear, which sadly she found very prevalent in the corporate world and also to be very counter-productive.

For Cheryl, this approach of operating with honesty and integrity translated into having many long-term employees for the 16 years she ran her franchises.

Care About The Person

An important aspect of her last principle – care about the person as much as the task – was how it helped employees on a personal level. Cheryl came to recognize that many of the people who choose to work at McDonald’s are people who have not yet experienced success. So Cheryl worked hard to create an environment where every employee could be successful.

This is where Cheryl leveraged McDonald’s outstanding training program. Employees learned that when they followed the defined steps of a process, they would experience success.

This is a terrific example of caring for your people by leading with values.

Cheryl also recognized that many in the fast food business saw their work as “you can take this job and shove it.” If they weren’t treated properly and managed well, they would simply go down the street and work for someone else. Not only was this not helpful to employees, this was not good for the business owner because all of their investment in training would be lost.

As a leader, this means the care and respect you show others is critical.

To listen to the whole interview with Cheryl, please visit: Values in Leadership.


This is a new Business Leader Series called Values in Leadership, where I share relevant insights gleaned from interviews with successful business leaders. I welcome your comments or questions by emailing: