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Leadership is a steering that keeps companies going in right direction’

Domino’s Pizza, which operates in India through Jubilant FoodWorks, recently opened its 500th store in the country. Richard Allison, executive vice-president, Domino’s Pizza International, tells Himani Chandna Gurtoo that being a leader does not mean an end to the learning process and how the chain entered India at the “appropriate” time.

india Updated: Oct 03, 2012 23:55 IST
Himani Chandna Gurtoo
Himani Chandna Gurtoo
Hindustan Times

Domino’s Pizza, which operates in India through Jubilant FoodWorks, recently opened its 500th store in the country. India is Domino’s fourth-largest overseas market and the chain sells around 70% of the country’s home-delivery pizzas. Richard Allison, executive vice-president, Domino’s Pizza International, tells HT that being a leader does not mean an end to the learning process and how the chain entered India at the “appropriate” time. Excerpts.

What is leadership for you?
A leader is someone who is sure about organisational goals and focus, someone who can instantly infuse ‘go, get and achieve spirit’. He is someone who provides the required resources to teammates and boosts their motivational levels. A leader is one who is ready to share his formulas, learnings and tricks. He should not be insecure about his own success and position.

Who is your inspiration?
For every person, the first dose of inspiration always comes from parents. I have seen my parents working tirelessly to afford my education and then, Patrick Doyle, Dominos Global CEO, who transformed Domino’s business in the US fabulously. I aspire to be hardworking like my parents and a leader like him. Moreover, never underestimate freshers - young enthusiastic freshers infuse phenomenal energy and inspire me a lot.

How do you handle the bad economic scenario, especially when your performance is been constantly watched?
I try to teach my team to focus on priorities. Good and bad economy is a part of business and those who keep their focus on objectives feel confident while answering watchers. No matter what the policy and economic equation is, the fundamentals of team spirit, assurance of job security and right leadership lessons will make you win.

What is the best leadership decision that you have taken so far?
There has been many but one of them was to enter India at the time when it was “looking” like an exciting market. We grabbed the opportunity at the right time and today, we are aggressively growing in the most-exciting market. Today, India is Domino’s fourth-largest overseas market after the US, UK and Mexico. Leaders are those who have the intuition of doing things at the best time.

And your worst decision as a leader?
I don’t regret on decisions rather I learn and move forward.

Are you open to criticism about your decision in front of your team?
Completely, even I ask my team to suggest what better could be done and what probably went wrong. Being a leader doesn’t mean an end of the learning process. Sometimes, your team feels good when you compliment them by saying, “Oh, I did not knew this, thanks for telling me.” Good lessons are based on bad experiences and I never hide my sour incidents or hard-earned lessons.

How does a leader keeps himself-self grounded?
It is one of the most important traits a leader should carry. Success should not affect the attitude of a person. The world remember those who remain grounded, humble throughout and not those who were just good professionals. In the leadership-making process, a man turns into a good human being first and a good leader later on.

Can leadership be learnt? How can a manager become a leader?
It can be learnt, if you have a good leader. A good leader can breed another leader. Bad bosses are insecure about their own positions but leaders will let their managers’ bloom, they won’t feel insecure when their colleagues perform well. I let my team and teammates work, my work is to review, criticise or appreciate them.

Why is leadership so important today?
Leadership is very important because of the growing competitiveness. An organisation will go corrupt if the sole focus is on profitability and business. Leadership is a steering which keeps the firm going in the right direction. Afterall, the brand identity of a company is based on its moral and culture.
This is an era of economic uncertainty; the challenges faced by organisations are much more complex and advanced than they were ten years ago. In times of crisis we need to ensure that we effectively communicate with all stakeholders and employees.

In leadership, do actions count more than words?
Actions do count more at times. For instance: If will arrive late for a meeting, my action will send a wrong message to my team despite several mails and lectures on the value of discipline. Our actions count a lot more than our words.

What is the role of a leader in a sector like fast food chain services?
The fast food services industry is highly innovative; it is a taste-driven sector. In such a case, you have even more scope, because the job of a leader is to differentiate one’s organisation from the rest in the industry. When I am in India, I turn Indian, I start thinking and eating the way Indians would enjoy. The flexibility to adapt to multiple tastes and identify the best one for a particular region is embedded in the trait of a leader.

You motivate your collegues on a daily basis but how do you motivate yourself?
Well, my team, through their display of performance and brilliance in their job motivates me back. The opening of the 500th store in India, excellent financials and selection of partners such as Jubilant FoodWorks motivates me every day. Good results are my motivation.

First Published: Oct 03, 2012 23:50 IST