There are a handful of interpersonal skills every good leader possesses. Some come easy to us and some are harder to master. Either way, making these part of your routine will help you to grow as a leader in the restaurant industry. Whether you are a natural-born dynamo or a lead-quietly-by-example manager, these 5 habits will help you improve your leadership abilities.
- Communicate well and often. Effective communication is the cornerstone of great leadership. Utilize every means of communication possible: Email, text, bulletin boards, Post-It notes, etc… Do whatever it takes to NOT be a silent, stoic leader. If that’s your current MO, replace that bad habit. Be open, communicative, and clear with what you say. The old “never assume” adage applies here and in two ways:
- Never assume your team knows the goals upper management has set forth. Lay out clear expectations for FOH and BOH when it comes to sales, costs, schedules and the like. Pass along the vision of the company. Be a strong link between the restaurant staff and the people who sign their paychecks.
- Never assume your team automatically understands your appreciation for their hard work and dedication. Make it clear to them often and abundantly. Shout-outs on social media and praise in group meetings go a long way to boost morale. Learn to effectively use a number of different communication strategies to pass along your vision and values, share inspiration, and give clear commands—all while being transparent with information and open to feedback.
Also, be certain your team understands communication is a two-way street with you. Be available to hear their concerns, ideas, and feedback.
- Never stop learning. There is an abundance of materials available to hone your leadership skills. TED talks, e-books, podcasts, print materials, seminars, webinars … the well of information is deep and wide and free in many instances. Make it a daily habit to learn something new and valuable, even if it’s just a tiny nugget of brilliance. When you find wonderfully helpful resources, pass them along when you’re done. Sharing your newfound knowledge benefits you twice when it can teach and inspire you as well as your staff members. Which flows into the next habit…
- Become a coach. I know your job title is restaurant manager, not coach. This isn’t Little League. No, actually, it’s the BIG League. This is your career. Creating a winning team benefits everyone. Viewing yourself as a coach in addition to being a manager will do more for your staff – and you – in the long run. The restaurant manager is a fixer where a coach strives for improvement, always. A manager is the 24/7 source for the answers to all the operation’s issues. A coach trains and encourages the team to problem-solve and see issues through to resolution. Certainly, your staff needs to remain accountable to management, but the manager who constantly rushes in to fix small issues will be frustrated and exhausted. He or she will also find themselves surrounded by coworkers who are stagnant in their growth.
- Be emotionally intelligent. Skilled leaders are masters of their emotions. They don’t fall apart or fly off the handle in stressful situations. Instead, they have the ability to look at a problem and calmly find a solution. As a restaurant manager, you know each shift will have its share of challenges, some days you are knee-deep in them. There will always be an abundance of annoyances that can provoke you. Try hard not to let them. Work to master a high degree of emotional intelligence. Achieve this through self-awareness (identifying your own emotional triggers), being proactive in addressing the immediate needs of your staff, and realizing that 90% of these challenges are likely pretty insignificant. A ten second (literal) cool down in the walk-in helps too.
- Be a beacon of positivity. This may be the toughest habit to master. After all, most people we run across are quite adept at being joy-sucking bags of negative energy. But an effective leader is able to remain positive when things don’t go smoothly. Train yourself to view shortcomings as opportunities to learn and build. Your positive outlook will encourage others and it will produce a culture where people want to be around you. Be the ultimate positive spin doctor, so much that your confident attitude irritates those aforementioned suck bags.
These 5 skills may not always come naturally to us. It may take time and discipline before they become second nature. Habits, good or bad, are formed by repetitive action. Commit to mastering these simple acts and soon, you’ll practice them without thought. Purposeful, positive, proactive daily habits make for more effective and dynamic leaders.
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.
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