ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Joe DePinto, 7-Eleven’s CEO, leads through serving others and taking responsibility, reports Texas CEO Magazine. The magazine spoke with DePinto about his leadership style, successes, challenges, where the company has been and where 7-Eleven is headed.
DePinto says he would describe his leadership style as “one of service and support.”
“I learned that servant-leadership mentality at West Point. I try to set clear expectations, then provide resources and coaching to help others be successful, and then get out of the way,” he told the magazine.
When it comes to mentors and role models, DePinto has been fortunate to have plenty around him through his service in the Army and attending West Point.
“These mentors instilled the idea of selfless service, always trying to improve and approaching every challenge with a can-do attitude and mission orientation. I think the most important thing that I learned, though, was to always do the right thing,” he told the magazine.
The best leadership advice he’s been given is that “true/good leadership is both hard and inconvenient.” Another piece of advice DePinto finds himself repeating is “the price of leadership is criticism.”
“You’re not always going to make everyone happy with the decisions that you make. How people respond is up to them. That’s the price of leadership,” DePinto told the magazine.
He also understands how vital 7-Eleven employees are to the business.
“Dedicated men and women doing their job every day, and the culmination of all of that, is what the enterprise truly is. And taking care of those folks, treating them right, making sure they have opportunity … that’s how we keep the organization growing and [it] enables us to continue to exceed our customers’ expectations,” he told the magazine.
DePinto said his biggest achievement at 7-Eleven is growth and proximity to customers.
“In the U.S. alone, we’ve grown from about 5,800 stores to more than 13,200 stores today. Globally, we went from 29,000 to more than 82,000 stores. There’s been a ton of growth, and with that growth has been really strong financial performance,” he told the magazine.
What keeps DePinto up at night is ensuring that “the company is anticipating and keeping up with the rapidly changing environment.”
“Things are moving so fast, and COVID has accelerated that. We teach our employees about what we call a VUCA environment—volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. That’s what we live in today, and we’re working to prepare our people and our business to anticipate change so we can continue to meet and exceed the needs of our customers,” he told the magazine.
According to DePinto, the future of 7-Eleven is a focus on customer first, innovation and growth.
“We want to continue to innovate to meet [customers’] needs and exceed their expectations. That includes growing our food-and-beverage business. We are also going to expand our global footprint. … In the past, we have really focused on concentrating our stores where we go, which has left a lot of opportunity for growth. Of course, with all of that growth, we remain committed to leading the way in sustainability and continuing to be a catalyst for thriving communities,” he told the magazine.
Check out the NACS Ideas 2 Go video featuring 7-Eleven’s Evolution Store in Dallas to see how the convenience retailer is creating a food- and beverage-forward experience.