To have your business run like a well-oiled machine, you need more than excellent service. You need someone to give momentum to the machine and make sure that all the gears work well with each other. Restaurant leadership is similar to that of any other business, yet specific since it’s moving very quickly. There are a lot of things taking place at the same time and many contributing factors. To be a leader means to master the following.
Know the business
A restaurant leader should know the restaurant business inside out. They should know every part of it, or at least know how all the parts connect in a chain that represents the business, and how they relate. On the other hand, they should have an excellent knowledge of the part of the process they are in charge of. This includes the aforementioned relationships, as well as, the numbers. Financial acumen is crucial in a leadership role as it has a great effect on the decision making process. Also, know your kitchen, know your storage, know your dining area, and your lobby, in theory, and practice.
Know the people
Knowing the people as a restaurant leader means knowing “your people” as in staff members, knowing your audience, as in the restaurant guests, as well as, knowing people in general. With the knowledge of who you work with and where you need them to be, you will find a way of getting them there. Recognize what it is that keeps the spirits high with your staff and keep them motivated. Find out what your establishment is missing and what it is the guests want to help improve the service. Believe it or not, running frequent assessments, namely surveys, you could get valuable insights into the needs of the two groups.
Know there is always more to know
Know that you and your staff can improve through constant learning. Always be prepared to top your game by sending people to training courses. This way you will be able to provide excellent service, keep up with the industry, and improve your offer.
Know the culture
Depending on how high you are on the leadership ladder and what stage the restaurant is at, you should promote the restaurant’s culture. Your job might be to set the culture. If not, your job might simply be to act on it. Always remember what your restaurant is, the message it is trying to convey and what it represents. Keep your staff on the same page so you can promote your brand together.
Know what’s going on, always
Your role is to lead but to lead, you will need to observe. You need to be aware of what’s happening in your restaurant at all times. This way you will be able to quickly spot any potential issues before they turn into real problems or major disasters. It could also improve your decision making and help you improve processes as you will be making informed choices and getting inspired by the actual situation in the field.
Know when and how to act
Making the right decision at the right time will help the restaurant to move forward. The leader should have enough information to be able to do this. On the other hand decision making can involve taking the risk and the leader should know when taking this risk is justifiable and when it could bring great benefits.
Occasionally, it will happen that the decision which was made turns out to be the wrong one. The leader should be able to spot it, assess what went wrong, and correct the mistake.
Know when to be flexible and when to stick to a plan
Know what your position is and what your goals are and create a plan which could help you get there. Without goals and a direction you want to take, you will not be able to lead as you will not know where you are leading to. However, seeing that in restaurant business things tend to move quickly, a leader should act quickly and be flexible. Stick to your main goals, review the smaller ones and the pathways you chose to get to them. See what works best for you and your team and adapt to events you weren’t able to predict. This could be anything from a staff member needing a day-off on short notice to major kitchen disasters.
Know how to communicate
Now, this is what makes you a true leader. Communication is a major part of what gets people to follow you. You work, the effort you invest in the business, your management skills are all recognized by the staff, but the way you communicate should be your strongest side. First of all, communicate with respect. Second, communicate clearly so everyone knows exactly what their tasks are and what is expected of them. This way people will understand what their responsibilities are and what they are accountable for. Finally, communicate to get to the bottom of a problem and help get to a solution. Communication with your every move and people will know what you are doing and why you are doing it.
Restaurant leadership is to lead and to manage at the same time. Leaders can be both born and made, but we need the right set of circumstances to be able to recognize them. This is why the best restaurant leaders often come from other positions within the restaurant where they had a chance to shine and stand out. It’s usually either that or a fat CV with a list of ways someone had affected and improved other businesses. Whichever you are, there is a lot you need to know and the more natural this knowledge feels to you, the better you will be at the job you do.