The Keys To Leadership

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They build statues for leaders, not managers

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.

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Sergeants and Generals

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For those of you who do not know me personally, I have a confession to make.  I am a huge history nerd.  This means that The History Channel’s “America: The History of Us” is taking up a large portion on my DVR.  I was watching the episode on World War II the other day when a particular statement from a General caught my attention.  He talked about the reasons soldiers fight.  He said that beyond all other reasons soldiers almost universally fight for the guy in the foxhole with them.

As a server, I can relate to this.  When the entire restaurant goes down in the weeds, you don’t fight through it for the sake of corporation or their shareholders.  You fight through it for your coworkers. You fight through it for those people who are fighting with you.  After the fight it is a bond you share.  There are many former coworkers out there I don’t particularly like as people, but will always respect because of the battles we went through together.  I would lend them a hand when they need it, because I know I could count on them when I need it.

To take the military analogy further, there are two types of managers: Generals and Sergeants.  Generals send you into battle.  Sergeants lead you into battle.  You fight for Sergeants and you curse Generals under your breath the whole time.  Managers who fight with you and for you as Sergeants make you want to fight with and for them.  Managers who command as Generals will find a staff unconcerned with helping them win their battles.

It all comes down to one very simple principle:

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Understanding Restaurants: The Manager’s Perspective

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Archeologists have recently discovered a cave in Egypt believed to be the first restaurant.  Obviously it would not meet our modern interpretation of a restaurant.  It is clear from inscriptions on the wall that people did come in and were served food.  Barter took place and guests typically ate their food there.  One inscription depicts a number of servers standing in a side station complaining to each other that the manager has not cut the floor.  Some things never change.

While the preceding story is fictitious, it does demonstrate a familiar truth.  Restaurant servers and managers are often puzzled by the actions of each other.  This leads to managers too often viewing servers and lazy and insubordinate.  Servers on the other side view managers too often as lazy and incompetent.  While both can occasionally be true, the more common cause is neither side understanding the perspective of the other.  Both groups have their own competing priorities.  By understanding the priorities a manager must balance, servers can better understand their managers and more positively effect change.

The manager’s three basic priorities are taking care of the guests, the owners, and the staff.  When shown on the Venn diagram it looks like this:

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