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Yum! Brands CEO David Novak's new book a lesson in creating a high-performance, recognition culture

Novak seeks to get people aligned, enthusiastic and relentlessly focused on achieving big goals

YUM! Brands CEO and Chairman David Novak offers powerful and sincere directives for creating a cohesive, success-oriented corporate culture in his new book, TAKING PEOPLE WITH YOU: The Only Way to Make BIG Things Happen, (Portfolio Penguin, January 2012).

Over his 15 years leading the world's largest restaurant company and owner of the brands KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, Novak made it one of his top priorities to create a recognition culture in which everyone counted and to do it so successfully that the company would become renowned for it. “It was my job to cast the right shadow of leadership, because no one else was going to live up to these principles unless I lived up to them first,” he writes in the book introduction. “As a leader, you always have to remember that people tend to follow the leader's actions. You can't say one thing and then do another and expect people to believe in you or follow you. As the leader, you have the opportunity to set an example of how the business should be run.”

Under his leadership, Yum! has established itself as a global powerhouse going from approximately 20 percent profits coming from outside the U.S. in 1997 to more than 65 percent in 2010, while driving one of the highest returns on invested capital in the restaurant industry. Today, Yum! is the leading retail developer in China as well as the largest and fastest growing restaurant company in emerging markets with a two-to-one advantage over its nearest competitor. Additionally, Novak has built Yum!'s entire global people-first culture around reward and recognition to drive results.

Novak notes that his book also benefits from the inclusion of interactive tools, which have been provided by two of the most notable thinkers on culture and breakthrough thinking in business, Senn Delaney Founder and Chairman Larry Senn, co-author of Winning Teams — Winning Cultures, and John O'Keeffe (Business Beyond the Box).

“I first met and worked with Larry, founder and chairman of Senn Delaney, when I became the president of KFC in the mid-1990s. Out of the blue, I got a letter from a culture expert who said he had a process, including tools and exercises, that helped people become better leaders and work better as a team. I met with him and was so impressed that I took my KFC team to an offsite meeting in Blackberry, Tennessee, to learn from Larry. They in turn were so impressed that they took the tools to their own team members, and Larry's influence kept spreading until it reached our front-line employees. I used Larry and the Senn Delaney process again when I took over Pizza Hut and in the first years after the spin-off when we used his tools to grow and implement our culture all around the world. Several of my favorites among Larry's tools are included in this book.”

Listen to interview on The CEO Radio Show

Read related article: Driving a Global Corporate Culture of 1.4 million Employees


Senn Delaney is pleased to share an excerpt of the book.
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