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Papa John's Handling of Employee Tragedy a Reminder of What Good Leadership Looks Like

Papa John's Handling of Employee Tragedy a Reminder of What Good Leadership Looks Like
Image credit: SimonQ | Flickr

The best leaders know that actions speak louder than words -- an adage recently exemplified by Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, who responded with a touching gesture when tragedy struck one of the pizza chain’s employees.

After staffer Gordon Schaffer was killed by armed robbers while working the late shift at a Tennessee location, Schnatter hopped a plane to attend the funeral and personally express his condolences to grieving family members. Furthermore, Schnatter picked up all of the medical and funeral service costs, The Tennessean reports.

The family was both stunned and moved.

Related: Papa John's Founder: 'I Am the American Dream'

"We never once imagined that this would touch anyone high up in the Papa John's corporate office, let alone John Schnatter," Schaffer’s sister, Devan Cronin, wrote in a Facebook post. "He was visibly distraught when speaking to my family about the tragic loss of my brother and it was apparent that he didn't come just to pay lip service."

Cronin added that his presence “was so much more meaningful than any monetary donation."

While Schnatter has discussed his uniquely homespun hiring process before as well as his employee management strategy, this latest act should serve as a heartrending example of how great leaders, with a little empathy, can transform their companies into communities. 

Related: 8 Keys to Being Identified as a Leader