3 Traits That Separate Leaders from Managers in the Restaurant Industry
By Angela Rose, Hcareers.com
A great restaurant is like a well-oiled machine, always running perfectly and efficiently. Each piece, like the kitchen and the wait staff, has a unique purpose. Yet each works seamlessly in conjunction with the rest to deliver the best dining experience. It’s up to the chef or restaurant manager to keep this machine functioning smoothly. However, the best go beyond simple oversight, becoming true leaders. While similar at their core, managers and leaders are not entirely the same. Consider these three traits that separate them.
1. Leaders Innovate
A manager is responsible for maintaining previously established policies and procedures. This may mean ensuring there are a specific number of servers schedule for each shift. It might include stocking the bar with a preset selection of spirits. A leader, on the other hand, comes up with new ideas and better ways of doing things. This keeps the restaurant moving forward. A leader will look at the average amount of business during each shift and adjust the server schedule accordingly. He will stay current on the latest trends in mixology and stock the bar with in-demand ingredients.
Of course, a leader must practice forward thinking while still keeping an eye on the bottom line and maintaining control of every situation.
2. Leaders Inspire
A head chef or restaurant manager is responsible for controlling her staff. She must ensure they’re working diligently and accurately. If she’s a leader, she’ll inspire them as well. The result is confidence and a bond of trust that will show itself in many ways. Her team may eagerly rise to the challenge of a revamped menu. They might proactively seek cross training opportunities. They will definitely work together to exceed their previous ‘best’ in everything, from service time to kitchen cleanliness.
Of course, a leader must inspire enthusiastic teamwork while still keeping tabs on individual performance metrics and insisting on accountability.
3. Leaders Ask Why
Some chefs and restaurant managers do as the restaurant owner or corporate office tells them without question. If an order comes down to add a vegan gluten free dish to the menu, they do it—even if their establishment is famous for wild game and pasta. If a higher up demands that they cut the bus staff’s hours, they do it—even if it will impact seating during the dinner rush.
A leader does not, at least not without first asking why—even though it may mean challenging his superiors. Where a manager is like a soldier, executing orders, a leader understands the value of his front line view of the action. He sees both the big and little picture completely, using that knowledge to help higher ups clarify their goals and create workable plans.
Are you a manager or a leader? It’s possible to master both roles, if you have a chef or restaurant management position that allows you to do so. If you’re ready to grow in your next culinary home, visit Hcareers.com.
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About the Author
Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for Hcareers.com.
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