BELTON — Servant leadership was the focus of the address by 7-Eleven’s president and CEO Wednesday at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor’s annual McLane Lecture.
In a packed house at the Sue and Frank Mayborn Center, Joe DePinto promoted the idea of servant leadership as a key to making businesses grow.
Drayton McLane introduced DePinto and his wife, Ingrid, who is a UMHB graduate.
DePinto, who was featured on the TV show “Undercover Boss” and also appeared on "the Oprah Winfrey Show," stressed the importance of listening to customers.
It has been a cultural journey for DePinto, who said management’s understanding of customers’ needs is the most important part. 7-Eleven has 52,000 stores in 16 countries.
Goals for his company initially focused on what managers and staff wanted.
The inspiration came from James Hunter’s book, “The Servant,” he said.
“At that point, we flipped the pyramid,” DePinto said. “We renamed the headquarters the Store Support Center. We defined the culture as putting the customers first and supporting the people who worked in our stores.”
To weave this new mentality into the corporate culture, DePinto initiated a robust training and feedback program.
“Today our associates at 7-Eleven, across the entire organization, won’t get hired, promoted or developed or receive bonuses without working to lead or leading utilizing our core principles,” DePinto said.