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The 5 Foundations of Transformational Restaurant Leadership

Posted by Steve Smith on 10/15/15 7:00 AM in Restaurant Management

2 minute read Print

restaurant leadership

Leadership. That’s a big, bodacious word, used frequently by bloggers, gurus, and CEOs. Let’s break down the meaning of this word: Leadership is both a research area and a practical skill, regarding the ability of an individual or organization to "lead" or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations. 

Transformational restaurant leadership starts with guiding your restaurant team effectively. Ask yourself: Am I a good restaurant leader? How can I be a better leader?

During your self-analysis, start with the current results your restaurant is achieving.

  1. Are you profitable?
  2. Do you have an employee turnover rate of less than 30% per year?
  3. Does your team have a culture of trust?
  4. Are you excited to go to your restaurant everyday?
  5. Do you refer to your team members as them or they versus us?

Regardless of your current answers, transformational restaurant leadership can positively affect profits, culture, and lifestyle at your restaurant for you, the leader, and your family, the team.

Here are 5 fundamental strategies to help you be or become a better restaurant leader.

1. Foundational Trust

It all begins and ends with the foundation of trust that your team has for you and for each other. A team that trusts has a clear vision of what they do and why they do it. They trust you and each other to be honest, respectful, and supportive, especially when the rail is full of tickets, every seat is taken, and you’re on a 1-hour wait.

2. Servant Leadership

A truly effective leader has a mission and mentality of service to his or her team. A “servant leader” is focused on the people. It's less about what you're doing and more about who you're being. It's how you show up for your team. It's being available to handle the human side of your team.

3. Enlightened Hospitality

As Danny Meyer says, “The definition of hospitality is something that is done ‘for’ you, and the opposite is done ‘to’ you." How are you as a restaurant leader making your team feel? Chances are your team is expressing hospitality to your guests the same way you are expressing hospitality to them.

4. Focus & Discipline

The restaurant biz can be very disruptive and that was before the advent of Twitter, Facebook, and Yelp! You as a leader must understand how to keep yourself and your team focused and disciplined. With clear and consistent policies, procedures, and systems for a fluid workflow, your team can stay focused on what matters most.

5. The Excellence Factor

Excellence is a moving target that can be pursued by integrity, discipline, creativity, and never-ending improvement. You and your team must be fanatical about your restaurant’s cleanliness, food quality, guest service, and the never-ending challenge of being “excellent” everyday.

When you believe in and live by these 5 foundations of Transformational Restaurant Leadership, you are well on your way to growing yourself into a highly trusted restaurant leader.

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Written by: Steve Smith

Steve has 30 years of extensive experience in the hospitality industry. His background includes franchise and independent polished and casual dining, resort development, brew pubs, and dozens of new restaurant openings and re-launches. His operational acumen spans more than 20 years. Steve's coaching expertise delivers real results and cultural change for his clients. Steve is a recognized and respected expert in leadership coaching, procedures and systems, cultural behaviors, brand and concept development, and marketing. On the Board of the Lancaster Chapter of The PA Restaurant and Lodging Assoc., he’s highly involved within the community and the success of his clients. He brings a wealth of operational experience and coaching to the table every time. Steve's leadership style and extreme attention to detail provides his clients superior results.

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