'I Wish I'd Fired More People'
Entrepreneur|March 2018

It took the founder of Panera Bread three decades to perfect his recipe for a well-run business. Now, after stepping down as CEO in January, he looks back on what he wishes he’d done differently.

Ron Shaich

I was the CEO of a public company for more than 26 years—that’s longer than Cal Ripken, Jr., played baseball. And I wasn’t the only one who stuck around Panera for a long time. Many of my colleagues did, too. In one case, a senior executive grew up with me there for more than 20 years. His job eventually outgrew him, and he totally checked out. He knew it, too, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell me. He just kept showing up to work. I pushed him and waited for him to step up. For years. But I didn’t fire him.

Looking back, I understand why: I was too obsessed with being a caring leader. What I should have done was let him go sooner, and many others like him.

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