11 Attributes of Restaurant Leadership

As a restaurant manager, part of your value to a company comes from your ability to “manage” certain metrics leading to service excellence and store profitability. 

By Brian Bruce
Metrics such as Food Cost, Labor, and Ticket Times are things for which you are compensated for managing, monitoring and improving. While some restaurant managers think they are also to manage the people in their charge, the exceedingly successful managers realize they are to “manage” things and “lead” their people. The following are important factors of leadership every manager desiring to succeed and excel should master:

1. UNWAVERING COURAGE - This attribute is based upon your knowledge of your abilities, and of your function within the restaurant. No staff member wishes to be dominated by a manager who lacks self-confidence and courage. No intelligent employee will be dominated by such a leader very long.

2. SELF-CONTROL - The manager who cannot control himself/herself, particularly under pressure, can never control others. Self-control sets a mighty example for your crew, which the more intelligent will emulate, resulting in “grace under pressure“.

3. CONSISTENT JUSTICE - Without a sense of fairness and justice, no manager can command 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. He cannot lead others successfully.

5. EFFECTIVE PLANNING - The successful leader must plan his work, and work his plan. A manager who moves 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 necessity of willingness to do more than he requires of his followers. Not only must you be able to manage the training of your staff, you must also be able to perform all functions in your restaurant yourself, at least adequately, in order to help where needed.

7. PLEASANT PERSONALITY - No rude, overbearing, careless manager can become a successful leader. Leadership calls for respect, of others and of self. Followers will not respect a leader who does not exhibit a Pleasant Personality.

8. SYMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING - The successful restaurant manager must be in sympathy with his 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 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 seek ways to improve the guest’s experience as well as ways to make the job functions of your staff more easily executed.

10. ASSUME FULL RESPONSIBILITY - The successful restaurant manager must be willing to 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 his followers to willingly do the same.

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. alert-info

Running Restaurants
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