Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management

C-Suite Speaker G.J. Hart Offers Leadership Advice

by Karen Doss Bowman

GJ Hart Portrait - 2017

SUMMARY: GJ Hart, executive chairman and CEO of California Pizza Kitchen, shared "Lessons in Leadership" for the JMU College of Business (CoB) C-Suite Speaker Series last month.

GJ Hart, executive chairman and CEO of California Pizza Kitchen (CPK), was the latest guest for JMU’s College of Business (CoB) C-Suite Speaker Series. He shared his strategies for success through his presentation, “Lessons in Leadership,” on Thursday, Oct. 26.

GJ Hart Delivers C-Suite Talk

Hart, who joined CPK in August 2011, has been credited with turning around a declining brand through his innovative leadership style, characterized by his commitment to establishing a collaborative corporate culture that thrives on employee engagement. Since late 2016, CPK has achieved an average of $633 million annual sales and an average of 11.5 million pizzas served each day. The company, which has nearly 300 restaurants in 16 countries, employs more than 14,000 people. 

During his presentation, Hart offered six strategies for effective leadership:

  1. Be the best you can be. Challenge yourself to be better today than you were yesterday.
  2. Dream big. Believe in the possibilities so that you can inspire others.
  3. Lead with your heart. Show passion for your work and compassion for those you lead.
  4. Trust the people you lead. Create an environment where people feel valued.
  5. Do the right thing. Make sure employees know they can count on you.
  6. Serve the people you lead. Recognize their successes, encourage them when they make mistakes.

All of these strategies should be executed with courage, Hart added. Leaders don’t always hear the things they want to hear, but it’s important to “listen more than you speak,” he said. 

“As a leader, you set the pace, you set the standard, you set the expectations, and you need to role model the behavior,” said Hart, who along with his wife, Heather, provided the naming gift for the Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management. “As a leader, you need to make sure that you’re serving every single person [who works for you].”

Published: Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 2, 2019

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