business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Cincinnati Business Courier has a fascinating interview with Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen in which he proves the truism that anything can be accomplished if you are not worried about who gets the credit. He spends much of the interview applauding other people in the Kroger organization who he says have been responsible for its amazing run of the past few years, and generally seems to count himself lucky for consistently being in the right place at the right time.

You can, and should, read the story here. But there are a couple of quotes that I'd like to pull out and highlight.

Regarding the influence that the Mariano's acquisition will have... "The next stores we start opening, you’ll see some Mariano’s influence on the restaurant part of our business (where customers can buy prepared foods to take home and eat). You’ll see some things that we’ve learned from Mariano’s, everything from sexy stuff to functional stuff."

Regarding the Kroger mindset... "When I go into a store, I always look at how long does it take for me to get hungry? We’re in the business of feeding people. How do our associates engage with customers? Every day we have the opportunity to help 8.5 million people have a better day. Well, are we doing that?

"The other day I got a letter from a customer. She said all of her family and all of her husband’s family had been in town all week. She had an hour of open time, so she went and bought two bascarts full of groceries. She said, 'I’m standing in line and the floral woman comes over, opens a register and checks me out, and then goes and gets a couple people to help me out to the car with my groceries. What they don’t know is my family and my husband’s family were here because my husband has stage IV cancer. It was incredibly helpful for me, the things your associates did.' Our associates did it because they could see she needed help. We get to do that every day."

Regarding the learning curve at Kroger... "Everything you do will help you learn and improve from where you are. You just have to be humble enough to use it.”
KC's View:
Bingo. Not only does Rodney McMullen always come across to me as the kind of guy you'd want to be in a foxhole with, but also as the kind of leader you'd want to follow into that foxhole, knowing that you wouldn't be there very long.

I don't know about you, but people who practice a philosophy of servant leadership and who seem to have their egos firmly in check are looking really good to me right about now.