Several times on this blog I have referred to the fact that you cannot manage servers. This is always followed up by the idea that you have to lead them instead. Managing servers is very much like trying to herd cats. I think this is a fairly easy concept to grasp. The difficulty in putting this idea into action is differentiating between being a manager and a leader.
Being a manager makes you responsible, but it does not make you a leader. Leadership requires a separate set of skills. If you choose to be a manager instead of a leader, someone will step up to fill that leadership role. The problem is that they may lead their followers in a direction that makes your goals more difficult to achieve. Nearly every goal a manager can have is made easier with the support of their staff. Developing the qualities of a leader is the easiest way to get your staff to follow you and help achieve your goals.
“You can get everything you want in life, if you just help enough other people get what they want” –Zig Ziglar
Zig lays out for us one of the fundamental truths in life. I believe that statement is true with the same certainty that I believe the earth is round. It is the basis of the mentality of a leader. It all starts with accepting the idea that in order to lead you must find a way to incorporate the goals of those around you into what you want to achieve. Leaders help people get what they want. People follow those who they trust will help them get what they want. If you cannot help people get what they want in achieving your goals, you must be able to change what it is that they want.
There are five traits every successful leader must develop:
Before I get into these five traits, I want to make some simple observations about leadership. Leadership is an incredible topic because truly great leaders share their wisdom with others. I am not seeking to propose some radically new technique to become a leader. Instead I want to describe leadership through the words and thoughts of great leaders. I will not claim to be one of the world’s greatest leaders, but I will seek their guidance in every point in this series.
“Leadership is action, not position.” – Donald H. McGannon
The people above you give you the title of manager. The people below you will give you the title of leader. There is no resume for leadership. There is also no such thing as a leader emeritus. You have to constantly renew your leadership. You must earn it with every new staff and each new employee. For this reason, these traits must become part of who you are. No one will follow a part time leader.
“You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower
This again is the difference between leadership and management. If you must use threat of force to achieve your objective, you are not leading. You must be able to create the shared vision. Authority is the last resort of a poor leader. Too many managers will resort to using their authority to justify their instructions. Taking this paternal tone with your staff will force them into the natural response of acting like petulant and defiant children. This moves you further away from achieving your goals.
“When leaders take back power, when they act as heroes and saviors, they end up exhausted, overwhelmed, and deeply stressed.” -Margaret J. Wheatley
Learning the skills of a leader takes time and energy, but in the long run it is the only way to avoid burning out as a manager. You do not have time to run a restaurant and fight with your staff. Many times managers become so frustrated that they give up focus on running the restaurant to spend their energy fighting with their staff. The path of least resistance in the long run is to learn to lead your staff and enlist their help in keeping the restaurant running smoothly. In the long run learning to lead is far less stress than endlessly trying to manage your staff.
“Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal. “ -Vince Lombardi
This is why there is still hope. I have heard people many times called a “natural born leader.” I am here to tell you that no such thing exists. The only way to become a natural at anything is to practice it so many times that it becomes instinct. The world’s greatest marathoner learned how to walk as a baby just like the rest of us. This is a talent you can learn and one that will make you more effective in everything you do.
Over the next few weeks I will cover these five traits of leadership. As I update, I will attach hyperlinks to the list above. This is going to be geared towards management, but is something that everyone can benefit from. Whether you look to advance in the restaurant industry, in a different field, or just want to see yourself achieve personal goals, these skills will help you.
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