In past I have spoken of the importance of a leader operating from his or her heart. In my opinion, if you want to transform the culture and results of an organization, leaders need to connect heart-to-heart with their people. This will transform their spirit, resulting in a group of motivated, passionate people who feel valued, cared for, and connected with their leader and hence the organization.

Sun Tzu’s quote, made over 2,500 years ago and explained in Art of War, still remains relevant today:

“Heart sustains the warrior but may run amok if cut off from the mind’s direction and discipline. Mind without heart is sterile, but heart without mind is reckless. An effective leader needs both mind and heart.”

Now I would like to tell you a story that is an example of recognizing excellent leadership and operating from the heart.

Smart Heart Leadership

Yum! Is the world’s largest restaurant company. It owns of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s, and A & W Restaurants. The group has over 34,000 restaurants worldwide and employs in excess of a million

Yum! has a set of strong core values, one being recognition. Leaders are encouraged to provide awards that are innovative, different, fun, and get attention while driving their core values.

Chairman David Novak set the scene with these awards back in 1994. As the new president of KFC he introduced the now famous “Floppy Chicken Award.” This fake chicken was presented to outstanding performers with a comment of their achievement written on the chicken. Each one was numbered like the collector’s item they are. Novak also gave the recipient $100 because, as he put it, “You can’t eat a rubber chicken!”

A good friend of ours, Peter Hearl, an Australian, was US President of Pizza Hut until late 2006 when he became Chief Operating and Development Officer for Yum! During his time as Regional Vice President for Yum!’s Asia Pacific business, and during his time at Pizza Hut, Peter gave out a “Golden Glove Award.” This award was an actual boxing glove that he presented, over 300 times, along with a cash prize to recognize knockout performance.

Upon taking his new role, Peter was searching his mind for a new award to drive core values. His predecessor as Yum! COO, Greg Creed (also an Australian who is now President of Taco Bell USA), had just started to brand the sort of operations leadership to which Yum! aspires as “Smart with Heart.” Peter picked this up and had each restaurant brand take a deep and wide dive to clearly define what “smart and heart” truly meant within their businesses. Defining their high impact drivers and then putting clear measurement methods around them is one of the reasons for the success of Yum!

For example, one measurement method they use across all brands to measure success is “CHAMPS”:

  • Cleanliness
  • Hospitality
  • Accuracy
  • Maintenance
  • Product Quality
  • Speed with Service

Peter has now instigated a “Smart with Heart” award. It is an impressively large heart-shaped globe with Yum! emblazoned across and the word “heart” pictured below. The award is presented to Yum! employees and associates all around the world who epitomize “Smart with Heart” leadership.

On his travels around the world Peter personally presents this award in front of staff, and sometimes customers, for outstanding contributions in line with that particular brand’s definition of “smart and heart.”

This is a great example of promoting heart within a business and having everyone involved in determining what “smart with heart” means to them. Well Done, Peter!

By Ken Wright – to find our how you can become a Smart Heart Leader, email me at – 

Your turn – What do you do to be a Smart Heart leader?