I started working at my first restaurant when I was fifteen years old and was glad to have found a part time job. The daily challenge of providing food and drink to an unknown number of patrons and making a business out of transforming strangers into regulars had an allure for me that continues to this day. It suited me and I stayed.
Now when I say ‘suited,’ do not mistake that for a belief that I had some sort of a special gift. I am not a famous chef, but instead I grew into the role of manager because I had a knack — a knack for thinking, talking and doing. Subsequently, I led and managed places of my own, as well as places for other folks of all sizes and styles: restaurants, taverns, nightclubs, casual service, quick-service, fast-service, entertainment complexes, single units, multiple units, local, national and U.S. government-owned.
Cha Cha Changes
People ask me about the changes to the industry that I have witnessed and I always reply that it is more complicated now, but for the most part the complications have been added to better serve, or better protect the guests and employees. Of course, the quest for profits and the whimsy of governance have also provided some interesting sparks. Change is always felt foremost by the beholder and any change (in my mind) is best defined by degrees, alter – modify – transform – revolutionize.
The fact is, if you are a manager or leader, there is an overwhelming demand for resiliency and that includes facing all matter of changes. In order to be successful with people in the hospitality industry, you must be prepared to wear many hats (assume the correct persona) when leading a team/tribe. You might have to “go against the grain” or be abrasive in the opposite direction of “who you are” to get things done. (Is this not embracing change?)
The right action at the right time (not always the way you would feel most comfortable) will most effectively address your problems. Any problem you face has two parts: (1) everything you can see or process, and (2) the course of action you take toward resolution. It is your action or inaction, not just your intention that will either resolve the problems or cause them to blow back in your face. This is why organizations and owners place a premium on problem solvers rather than problem identifiers. (“You handled that nicely” as opposed to “Thanks for handing me that bag of snakes.”)
Leadership vs. Management
Leadership enters the conversation when one is speaking about the influence/interactions/impact upon others. Management is an accepted term for a “job”…that one can get… to control/ build/ buy/et all, things. You can be a leader without management responsibilities, which is called a figurehead. If you have no other person within your span of influence (a sidewalk cart) then you can manage things without being a leader.
For a long time there has been a great deal of play given to the discourse on the “differences” between management and leadership. And yet, business management gurus of the world have long stated that most business managers have leadership built into their job description. Natural-born leaders will need to be skilled at actually managing business operations if they hope to be successful in a managerial role. Business realities dictate that if you are named to manage a department or group, you are expected to lead its direction, manage the resources, and be accountable for results, good or bad (people, performance, profits, culture, legacy, etc.).
If you have a job as a manager which includes supervision of others then you are expected to show some iota of leadership skills, as it will be on you to get the group to pull together (without breaking apart) and accomplish the tasks set forth. There are many good managers who are bad leaders and many (short lived) acceptable leaders who are bad managers.
Leaders+Managers = Leadagers
The above job likely includes driving sales, controlling costs, meeting or exceeding standards, doling out rewards and punishments, communicating up, down and across, and serving and protecting the organization, among other things. As such, you need to be part shaman-ambassador-fill-in- worker-camp counselor-traffic cop, or better yet, all leader-manager. I prefer the term leadager.
I advocate verbally compounding leader and manager to illustrate the point that if you are managing people, it is the proper terminology to use. Even though most old school folks will never make a job title out of any part of the word leadership, the fact remains that in “our world” — management and leadership are logistically inseparable.
Chase LeBlanc is the founder and CEO of Leadagers LLC, a business consultancy serving the hospitality industry. He is the author of the soon to be published book, HIGH IMPACT HOSPITALITY: Upgrade Your Purpose, Performance and Profits! You can find it on Smashwords now @ http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/21286
The Leadagers LLC programs enable companies to achieve higher levels of performance and profit by improving the predictability of your leadership production process. And, for individuals to become better managers – faster!
And you can find Chase on Twitter and Facebook as Leadagers - “Leaders who manage – Managers who lead”