Great job! How Yum Brands uses recognition to build teams and get results

  @FortuneMagazine July 25, 2013: 7:25 AM ET
NOV12 david novak

Novak in his office, surrounded by prizes and photos of employees


Something's odd about David Novak's office. Look at the knickknacks on his desk -- a rubber chicken, a set of teeth on skinny legs with oversize feet; on the coffee table, a plastic hog and a red clay roof tile. Framed photos have taken over every square inch of wall space and, strangely, most of the ceiling, showing Novak not with Presidents and sports stars but with people you've never seen. If you didn't know, you wouldn't guess that Novak is CEO of Yum Brands, a Fortune 500 company (No. 201), one of the corporate world's great financial performers, though it operates in a notoriously competitive industry. You certainly wouldn't suspect that those odd office features aren't just personal quirks -- that they're actually essential elements in a leadership system that has produced the company's knockout performance.

Novak, 60, may be the business world's ultimate team builder. Over the past 30 years, he has developed a discipline for nurturing and developing leaders that centers on recognition (though that is by no means its only important element), and those knickknacks are among the scores of bizarre prizes that Yum gives out; the photos show him giving awards to employees around the world. "I don't have one piece of artwork," he says. "This has got to be the cheapest office in corporate America. But it's the best. People want to see the CEO's office, and when they come in, they understand what's important in our company."

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