7 Ways to Refine Your Restaurant’s Leadership


Leadership is paramount to operating a thriving restaurant. The better quality of leadership you provide, the better quality talent you’ll attract. Embrace leadership with the strategies below to help identify your restaurant’s culture, strengthen your staff, and improve your operation on a daily basis.

1. Define Your “Why”

Knowing what to do and how to do it is meeting the minimal criteria. Understanding the reasons why you do the things you do and conveying these concepts to your whole team positions you as a leader. When you prioritize your “why,” your staff will be more inclined to live it and preach it.

2. Train Your Culture First

The key to retention is creating a culture employees want to invest in. Establish your restaurant’s mission and the essence of your culture, lead with it in training, and make sure everything you train stems back to that purpose. When you align employees with culture, your team will become a cohesive unit that will perform with your mission in the forefront.

3. Confidence is Key

As Hemingway once said, “The best way to find out if you trust somebody is to trust them.” Let your team members know you have faith in them before telling them why, how, and what to do. Expressing that you believe in your staff and instilling confidence in them is an underrated, powerful tool that can significantly impact their performance.

4. Shine the Light

Light is the only thing that makes things grow; if your employees do things you like, always shine the light on those things. Even if it’s as simple as saying “thank you for being on time today,” showing your employees you appreciate their efforts will encourage them to continue their good work and keep them around.

5. Never Stop Learning

With the evolving nature of the foodservice industry, it’s imperative that chefs, managers, and everyone on staff stays thirsty for knowledge and wisdom. Read books, blogs, and publications that provide insight on the dos and don’ts of culinary trends, hospitality approaches, leadership strategies, team building, and everything in between that will help your business grow.

6. For Big Success, Think Small

Setting big goals is commended – but to achieve them, you need to think small. Make a long-term goal, such as reducing turnover or increasing sales in the next year, and calculate each goal based upon months. Smaller goals make it easier to keep the momentum going and attain your target objective.

7. Don’t Forget the Basics

The root of your training should stem from how the restaurant business works. Teach your team members the ins and outs of operational costs such as food, beverage, labor, and rent, as well as your average revenue. These concepts can help your staff recognize how incredibly slim your margins are, emphasizing the importance of following recipes, promoting the menu, and providing superior service to every guest.


Adapted from Jim Sullivan’s article “10 Daily Leadership Resolutions for 2019.” Jim Sullivan is the founder and CEO of Sullivision.com, a leadership training company whose clients include Walt Disney Company, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Applebee’s, Sam’s Club, Marriott, and more.