All Things New

A photo by Liz Weston.

Since leaving Chipotle 5 years ago, the time I’ve spent working in other organizations has helped me greatly in many ways that I couldn’t have predicted, including building people development systems from scratch. When you work at a company for 10 years you adopt the viewpoints of management, embrace the culture, and generally move in the same direction as everyone else is, with a few detours as new ideas are introduced. And you certainly benefit from all those that have gone before you to help chart the course of leadership development within the organization.

The idea of a strong people culture, creating opportunities for the people who already work inside the organization, and empowering those who have high standards, became so engrained into my DNA as a leader that I couldn’t imagine everyone not doing it this way. It was an honor and a great opportunity to help foster a high performing culture across 200+ restaurants, and getting to where we were going by developing my team and providing them with opportunities to grow. When I left Chipotle in 2012 I wrote about it extensively on my blog and continued, and still continue, to be a champion for those beliefs.

Over the last 5 years since leaving Chipotle, I have learned how to dance with the concepts around building a strong people culture that served me so well as a leader, as well as how to also add new elements into the mix of leadership development to match a changing economy, a changing workforce, and a changing industry. Growing up in a system and culture of people development is very different than being a catalyst for change in organizations building those systems. But all of that hard work makes it even more gratifying, and it has made me a better leader for having to chart that course, along with the other great leaders I have been privileged to work alongside.

What I learned over the last 5 years of an evolving, but still people-first leadership style, is that as times change, you have to be flexible and open yourself up to new ways of doing things, particularly in cultures that do not have a strong people development foundation to build on. What is second nature to you may be completely foreign to someone else who has never been exposed to what you have been exposed to. But it is just as important as it ever was, even if the person on the other end of the conversation doesn’t know it yet.

While times change and new techniques and styles of leadership development are applied, the incredible importance around people development remains a constant. Over and over again, I have seen the eyes of amazing people just light up as they embrace amazing opportunities that change their lives, forever. Keeping those conversations new, keeping them fresh, and imbuing all of the genuine passion you can muster as a leader to cast the vision of where you want to take your company, and them along with it, is the silver bullet of leadership development.

When developing the leaders around us stays new and fresh for us, it also keeps us from becoming complacent and jaded “experts”. It also keeps us hungry and humble as we continue our own journey of leadership development so that when we as leaders invest in the next generation of leaders, we light a fire that will never be extinguished.

If we do our jobs right, we will provide these new leaders with the reproducible skills to start a fire inside of new leaders that lives far beyond us, and that is the best legacy any of us can hope for.

All things new.


Published by

Bobby Shaw

I am a former restaurant company executive with a passion for developing existing and future leaders to achieve high standards. I love helping organizations develop strong people cultures with an emphasis on leadership development that result in top-notch operations and better business results. I have over 30 years in the restaurant business in all facets of operations, from my start at McDonald's in the grill area in 1984 to overseeing 200+ restaurants with Chipotle Mexican Grill from 2002-2012 to leading Freebirds World Burrito's resurgence from 2013-2016 to working with the Salad and Go restaurant startup as CEO in 2016/2017. My real world experience transcends the typical operations background with a focus in leadership development and coaching. At the core of my background and experience, I believe that how leaders get results is just as important as getting them, and what got them where they are, won't necessarily get them where they want to go. I work closely with individual leaders and companies to improve their results through understanding how their strengths impact the overall results. My goal is to help business leaders and companies learn how to leverage the strengths of their employees by understanding their strengths and what they’re good at, and using that knowledge to positively impact their entire organization.

2 thoughts on “All Things New

  1. I often sit with my managers and say- the change starts here.
    We forget that we drive the leadership to allow the environment. Not the other way around…

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