11 Attributes of Leadership Restaurant Managers Should Exercise

As a restaurant leader, part of your value to your brand comes from your ability to “manage” certain metrics that lead to service excellence and store profitability. Metrics such as Food Cost, Labor, and Ticket Times are things you are expected to manage, monitor and improve. While some restaurant managers think they are also to manage the people in their charge, effective managers realize they need to “manage” things and “lead” their people. Following are important factors of leadership every manager desiring to improve should master:

1. UNWAVERING COURAGE – Courage is based upon your knowledge of your abilities and your function within the restaurant. No staff member wants to be “bossed around” by a manager who lacks self-confidence and courage. No intelligent employee will follow such a leader very long.

2. SELF-CONTROL – The manager who cannot control himself/herself, particularly under pressure, cannot lead others effectively. Self-control sets a mighty example for your crew, who will emulate you, resulting in “grace under pressure“.

3. CONSISTENT JUSTICE – Without a sense of fairness and justice, no manager can earn and retain the respect of his staff. Your restaurant’s policy handbook should be your first point of reference for maintaining a consistent consequence for specified infractions. Remember, consistency is the key. An effective leader cannot play favorites.

4. DECISION MAKING – The manager who wavers in decision-making shows that he is not sure of himself and will face an uphill challenge trying to get buy-in from his staff.

5. EFFECTIVE PLANNING – The successful leader must plan his work, and work his plan. A manager who moves by reactively by guesswork, without practical, definite plans, is comparable to a ship without a rudder. Sooner or later he will land on the rocks. Every restaurant should have Systems in Place which aid in this regard.

6. DOING MORE THAN EXPECTED – One of the burdens a leader must bear is the willingness to do more than he requires of his followers. Not only must you be able to manage the training of your staff, but you must also be able to perform all functions in your restaurant yourself, at least adequately, in order to assist where and when needed.

7. PLEASANT PERSONALITY – No rude, overbearing manager will lead with success for long. Leadership calls for respect of others and of self. Followers will not respect a leader who does not exhibit a pleasant personality.

8. EMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING – The successful restaurant manager must have empathy for their staff. Their performance affects the success of the restaurant’s operations. Therefore, a leader must understand them and their problems and come to their rescue when necessary. The guest is always right, except when they’re WRONG. There are times when you as their leader must defend or shield your staff from certain situations. A great leader recognizes those situations.

9. EYE FOR DETAIL – Successful restaurant leadership calls for an eye for detail. See the restaurant through both the guest’s eyes as well as the staff’s. Vigilantly look for ways to improve the guest’s experience as well as ways to make the job functions of your staff easier to execute.

10. ASSUME FULL RESPONSIBILITY – The successful restaurant manager must assume responsibility for the mistakes and the shortcomings of his staff. If he tries to shift this responsibility, he will not remain the leader. If one of his followers makes a mistake and shows himself incompetent, the leader must consider that it is he who failed and take steps to prevent the situation from happening again.

11. COOPERATION – The successful restaurant leader must understand and apply the principle of cooperation and be able to cause her followers to willingly do the same.

Also, leadership training or leadership development courses could prove to be invaluable to your leadership effectiveness.

While this list by no means is intended to be exhaustive, it does contain a foundation upon which a restaurant manager can successfully develop a style of leadership that his/her staff will respect and follow. Without the ability to lead, a manager will find there are no followers. And if you’re leading and nobody is following, you’re only taking a walk.

Brian Bruce, an author of multiple articles published online and in several industry trade publications, has been cited in multiple news stories as an authority in Executive Restaurant Recruiting. He’s an Executive Restaurant Recruiter with HHB Restaurant Recruiting and recruits nationally. He can be reached at 405-361-7582 and by email at Brian@HeadHunterBrian.com.