I was somewhat surprised to see the sudden departure of Don Schroeder the CEO of Tim Hortons, although with the companies recent results not reaching analyst expectations, the demands of the continuous success of a public company always weigh heavy.
It was interesting to watch Don Schroeder in action a couple of years ago when I was one of the judges at the annual Financial Executives International Best in Class Invitational MBA Case Competition. The case study that year was Tim Hortons and the challenge they face (and still do today obviously) as to how to grow their business, especially in Canada where they seem to dominate every street corner.
Don spent the whole day there, listening intently to every schools presentation, making notes, talking with anyone and everyone there, highly engaged and approachable. At the evening celebratory dinner he delivered a speech that really highlighted his passion, love and vision for the company and acknowledging the hard work of the student teams and how his teams faced similar challenges every day and how well they rose to them. As a lawyer practicing in Hamilton he worked for a number of franchise owners and eventually became a franchise owner, finally joining the corporate head office as Executive VP of Human Resources, an unusual and unique route for a lawyer and finally became CEO.
It will be interesting to see if the vision and connection that he so obviously had with the business can be repeated, or perhaps it should not be and it is time for a change that needs to happen to take Timmies to the next level.
Tim Hortons share price might get affected short term by this news, but the brand is strong enough to survice and thrive. But this is one of the critical aspects in personal brand leadership, having that strong a vision that enables a leader to rally employees (or in a franchise situation even harder – owners) to believe that your decisions are the right ones for the business and build on a brands success and get everyone to come along for the ride. Look what happened to Starbucks when Howard Schultz left to see how quickly things can go wrong.