Exploring the Leadership Dynamics: Steve Ells and Chipotle's Challenges - A Thoughtful Essay

Published: 2024-01-19
Exploring the Leadership Dynamics: Steve Ells and Chipotle's Challenges - A Thoughtful Essay
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Leadership analysis Company
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1266 words
11 min read

Following Chipotle Mexican Grill's safety issues, its CEO, Steve Ells, decided to step down. Society thinks that the decision to step down is what the company requires. The current position of Steve Ells is executive chairman and responsible for planning and overseeing its innovation. Most people think that Steve was only good at founding the organization and growing the company, but it has become so big that he can no longer manage it. Steve Ells founded the restaurant to deliver and produce food with integrity. Society lost trust in Steve after the recurrent issues to do with food poisoning. In 2015, the company started reporting food poisoning cases, leading to multiple outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella norovirus. It led to the closure of multiple stores following the investigation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health organizations. Ever since the organization has been reporting several food poisoning cases, its effort to retain its previous stock market has been futile (Walker 232). The company has been struggling to recover sales by trying to lure customers. Therefore this paper will analyze the advantages Steve has over society. Steve could not have founded and grown a company like Chipotle Mexican Grill if he did not have the capabilities. Steve has unique trials and entrepreneurship skills that should not be overlooked. Steve Ells revolutionized casual dining in 1993 through Chipotle's development and the concept of food with integrity; Steve has people's health interests at heart.

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Stepping down and getting involved in setting the organization's vision for the food concept is not the best decision. Since the company's initiation, Steve positioned it as "the pinnacle of relaxed, casual dining. He positioned the organization differently from competitors such as Taco Bell, Burger King, and McDonald's. The company differentiated itself with fresh food, the menu items that were prepared by hand. The foods were not over-processed and delivered in a casual environment (Walker 233). it was one of the strengths of the company.

Steve is a visionary entrepreneur who saw an opportunity in the fast-food industry. Most fast-food restaurants do not care about nutrition and the quality of food (Sarah). However, with Steve, he made sure that his fast-food restaurant delivered healthy food. On the contrary, the opponent thinks that Steve Ells had overstayed as he watched the company crumble. The critique maintains that Steve Ells had leadership skills for a smaller company. The organization had grown so much that it needed a leader with talented executive skills to change the workplace and address the restaurant's real issues. Steve's leadership has resulted in a chain of stumbled crises from one to the other, thus failing to revive the organization's growth once enjoyed.

Stepping down does not mean that he has failed as society perceives the whole story. Steve Ells is a chief and not a manager; making him remain in control of the kitchen and food concept would give the organization ample time to bounce back. Steve had undertaken executive roles that he had no skills in, thus leading to unending problems.

The incoming leader will bring refreshing insight into the table to strengthen the core operating and brand fundamentals, leading to a long-term positive effect. Steve, at some point, acknowledges that the organization has been teaching its employees incorrectly. He said that they spent too much time teaching esoteric elements of the culture to empower people instead of focusing on essential customer services. Steve also criticized the organization that it is dirty and that something needs to be done. Thus, leadership change will help the restaurant bounce back and is not a demotion for Steve Ell.

The new management under Niccol has appeared to modernize Chipotle and make culture relevant. After the hiring of Niccol, everyone thought that the problem would go away. It only resurfaced in 2018. The company's problem was perceived as the inability to keep the food from contamination. Organic and locally produced ingredients instead of large corporate farms make it hard to comply with food safety measures. It becomes even harder to monitor the root cause of different infections and when they happen. The organization was built on the foundation or concept of food integrity. It was the only thing that made the company unique and different from others.

On the contrary, society feels that it does not make sense when the organizations are founded on food integrity and produce meals that make them sick. An increase in digital sales as most critics argue would only make the organization reposition itself. The customer's perception will end up changing, and the uniqueness of e Chipotle diminish.

Additionally, the critique also feels that Steve could have ventured into a new consumer market. While targeting food integrity, the company should provide a range of demographics and increase the awareness of the new type of customers. Additionally, price stability has been another issue at the hotel. More so, the restaurant has shipped food across the states to deliver to restaurants. According to the local news, the local area is defined as sourcing from farms about 2350 miles from participating restaurants. The organization providing natural and organic food is a problem since other competitors' products or supplies have lower prices (Kal 1). Therefore, it should have combined whole foods with organic ones to reduce their meals' prices. They are relying on organic food alone may be hard to keep the price from rising. Furthermore, organic food may have issues when it comes to safety and infection cases.


In a collision, Steve is one of the most outstanding entrepreneurs. However, society has failed to see this. Society has viewed him in terms of food poisoning and how he has allowed it to recur. Steve started the company singlehanded from the few resources he had and made it a successful company. He had a unique idea of food integrity and most fast-food restaurants hardly emphasized this. Steve wanted people to consume healthy meals.

Additionally, Steve has tried to address the hotel's safety issue by coming up with many strategies and working with health organizations to identify the challenge. All this effort proved futile. Steve also tried to hire other employees to help address the issue leading to no concrete solution. On the contrary, the critics feel that Steve had failed and waited for a long to step down. People think that Steve is, not competent enough to lead such a big company and he belongs to a small organizations. Niccol's appointment saw the recurrence of a similar issue of food poisoning in 2018 after Steve had stepped down. This means that the whole issue has to do with the company’s food, and Chipotle should change its business position, vision, and mission. However, the organization was positioned on a foundation of food integrity including fresh and organic food.

Steve has been a successful entrepreneur since he started Chipotles, a local and small restaurant with the hope to start another fine Dining restaurant in the future when he has made a lot of money. Surprisingly, the restaurant grew into the biggest hotel in the US. He started from nothing with a unique idea that has yielded jobs for unemployed Americans. Therefore, there is something unique, that people do, not see in Steve Ells.

Work Cited

Kal, Gullapalli, “How Chipotle Became the Gold Standard of Mexican Fast-Food,” Business Insider, January 21, 2011.

Sarah, Whitten. Steve Ell’s departure as CEO from Chipotle could be just what the beleaguered restaurant needs. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/29/ells-departure-as-chipotle-ceo-could-be-just-what-the-restaurant-needs.html.accessed 4, December, 2020

Walker, Russell, and Greg Merkley. Chipotle Mexican Grill: Food with integrity? .Ed. Kellogg School of Management, 2017.

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Exploring the Leadership Dynamics: Steve Ells and Chipotle's Challenges - A Thoughtful Essay. (2024, Jan 19). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/exploring-the-leadership-dynamics-steve-ells-and-chipotles-challenges-a-thoughtful-essay

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