Anthony Bourdain once described a great head chef as someone who "leads from the front.“
“I always lead from the front. Cooks always like to see their chef come in before them, leave after them, and always work at least as hard, or better yet, harder than them. And they want their chef to be capable of doing anything they’re able to do. Because you’re going through what they’re going through, there’s camaraderie.“
Regardless of your leadership philosophy, leading a restaurant team is about demonstrating respect for your employees while remaining firm in your expectations of them. That's how you get to a place of mutual trust.
Calling out an employee for being late to a shift in front of their peers can actually breed contempt on behalf of your staff. Don't do that. Instead, correcting behavior privately and praising publicly is a good rule of thumb, and don’t forget to praise often. Let your staff know you recognize their hard work and their efforts don’t go unnoticed.
We're people. And all we really want is to feel seen, heard, and valued. Ask your staff for their suggestions and feedback on how the kitchen or business is running. Ask them how their families are doing. Celebrate birthdays and life events. Send them soup when they’re sick. We all walk into work every day carrying some kind of baggage. Restaurant staff want a boss who’s loyal, who takes an interest in their lives, who will protect them. If you can do that, your staff will trust they can count on you.