The Five Pillars of Restaurant Catering are the foundation of everything we do here at The Catering Institute – the first of these is Leadership, and it’s a pillar that is crucial to scaling and sustaining a healthy catering revenue channel. Strong leadership means that the program’s vision can be communicated clearly not only to the organization internally but to customers externally. And as with any great structure, foundation is key – leadership must be supported by the organization’s management team and be aligned with stakeholders for maximum engagement.
These are all vital elements to Leadership overall, but what are the qualities that we look for in a leader specifically? I think nearly all of us have looked to leadership at some point in our careers, and many of us have become leaders in our respective specialties, but do we regularly define what qualities are important to us? It might not involve writing them out on paper, but it’s definitely something important to at least understand which qualities are going to have the most success in a peer group – it might even change between organizations. No matter where you are, or what title you hold, there are always opportunities to be a leader – a thought leader, a team leader, a trainer, a mentor.
Thinking about leadership as a style, here are ten great leadership qualities that seem to be common across all walks of life:
- Regardless of how you hold yourself in regard normally, when you are responsible for a team, you should hold yourself to even higher standards. As a leader you are the face of your team, whether that’s an internal team or the organization as a whole – and your behaviour is more noticeable (whether good or bad) as a result. When you make honesty and integrity your key values, and you follow through on those traits, your team is likely to follow in your footsteps
- Ability to delegate
- One of the hardest things to do as a leader is to trust that your team can do what you have asked of them. Whether it’s taking responsibility for a project in its entirety or a much simpler individual task, letting go of the reigns shows trust in those you work with. The key to successful delegation is identifying the skills of your individual members and finding out what they enjoy doing most – this will allow you to delegate tasks appropriately and may also result in team members excelling at something they love to do. This builds trust both ways – for you as a leader because your team sees that you understand who they are as employees, and for them as a team because they are doing (well) what you have asked of them. Delegation allows you to focus on the higher level items that should take up the majority of your time as a leader
- As a leader you are often responsible for sharing goals, ambitions, pathways to success or even simple day-to-day items – clarity in your communication is key to being able to succinctly describe what needs to be accomplished, and it’s also a positive way to ensure your team stays interactive with you and one another. Letting them know that they can speak to you when they need leadership is vital to the success of a team – an unapproachable leader makes for an unhappy, unguided team
- If you expect the best out of your team, then you have to lead by example. Nothing is less motivating to a team than being expected to pull all the weight and not getting any guidance, support or help from a leader. By proving your commitment to the task at hand, the team as a whole and to your position as a leader, you earn the respect of those around you. Those that respect you are more willing to work with you to help achieve your goals
- Ability to inspire and motivate
- When people feel valued and needed, they are more likely to put in extra effort the next time they are relied upon. Of course, monetary rewards often signal that someone has performed positively, but often enough, a simple “Thank You”, “Great work!” or “You really helped me out” is sufficient to let your team members know how important they are to you. Acknowledge work that has been completed, successes that have been made, and goals that have been achieved – motivating your team to keep improving themselves as a group and as individuals will only reap the best of rewards
- Noted as an emotional intelligence, self-awareness is a key leadership quality that is the ability to recognize and understand your own moods, emotions and drives, and their effects on others. By being able to do this, you can be a strong, confident, stable leader – rather than one that may react unexpectedly, or irrationally. Understanding how your personal feelings and emotions can not only affect your leadership style, but the attitudes of those in your team, means that you can adjust accordingly to ensure that the team environment remains as positive as possible at all times
- Vision and goal setting
- Setting a vision for the organization or the team is so important as it provides members with a goal to work towards – a clear understanding of the messaging they should constantly be sharing, the motivation for the business, and the drive to success. Goal setting is key to creating stepping stones for the team to realize their accomplishments along the way – this helps them see that they are making progress towards company goals, and setting individual goals allows for personal growth within the company. When you make time to set these goals in place, you demonstrate that you are listening to what your team needs, allowing them to become better at what they do, and so creating better work for you as a leader
- Positive role model
- It’s impossible to work for, or with, someone who is negative. Negativity permeates every aspect of a team, from the motivation of the team to get work done, to the general tone of conversation and attitude between members. Even in the face of adversity, or during extremely stressful occasions, it can be hard to keep the negativity from creeping in – although everyone understands a bad day now and again, don’t make it constant. Your team will look to you in their times of need, which means putting aside whatever issues you have of your own, to be a support for them. Demonstrating that hard times can be overcome, showing that a team provides an important support system, and behaving in positive ways as much of the time as possible, means that your team is likely to take your
- Your own confidence in who you are as an employee and a leader means that your team will also have confidence in you. Understanding your strengths, and sometimes identifying your weaknesses, are key to showing that you are a confident leader, one that is ready to guide his/her team and work towards achieving the goals set before you
- Although this is a quality that anyone should have, leaders should be more respectful as an example for the rest of their team. Respect for those working with, below and above you can only have positive connotations. Understanding who those around you are, having respect for their personalities, their qualities, their beliefs and morals, and showing that respect at all times are all key in demonstrating your own great trait
A good leader takes the lead and has the ambition to succeed, while motivating the team to perform to their best at all times. What leadership qualities do you look for?