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By: Brian Bruce

Restaurant Manager Leadership Traits

As a restaurant manager, part of your value to a company comes from your ability to manage certain metrics leading to service excellence and store profitability. Metrics such as Food Cost, Labor, and Ticket Times are things for which you are compensated to manage, monitor and improve. While some restaurant managers think they are also to manage the people in their charge, the exceedingly successful managers realize they are to manage things and lead their people.

The following eleven attributes are important factors of leadership every manager desiring to succeed and excel should master:

1. Unwavering Courage
This attribute is based upon your knowledge of your abilities, and of your function within the restaurant. No staff member wishes to be dominated by a manager who lacks self-confidence and courage. No intelligent employee will be dominated by such a leader very long.

2. Self-Control
The manager who cannot control himself/herself, particularly under pressure, can never control others. Self-control sets a mighty example for your crew, which the more intelligent will emulate, resulting in grace under pressure.

3. Consistent Justice
Without a sense of fairness and justice, no manager can command and retain the respect of his staff. Your restaurant's policy handbook should be your first point of reference for maintaining a consistent consequence for specified infractions. Remember, consistency is the key. An effective leader cannot play favorites.

4. Decision Making
The manager who wavers in decision-making shows that he is not sure of himself and cannot lead others successfully.

5. Effective Planning
The successful leader must plan his work, and work his plan. A manager who moves by guesswork, without practical, definite plans, is comparable to a ship without a rudder. Sooner or later he will land on the rocks. Every restaurant should have Systems in Place which aid in this regard.

6. Doing More than Expected
One of the burdens a leader must bear is the necessity of willingness to do more than required of his/her followers. Not only must you be able to manage the training of your staff, you must also be able to perform all functions in your restaurant yourself, at least adequately, in order to help where needed.

7. Pleasant Personality
No rude, overbearing, careless manager can become a successful leader. Leadership calls for respect, of others and of self. Followers will not respect a leader who does not exhibit a pleasant personality.

8. Sympathy & Understanding
The successful restaurant manager must be in sympathy with the staff. Their performance affects the success of the restaurant's operations. Therefore, a leader must understand them and their problems and come to their rescue when necessary. The guest is always right, except when they're WRONG. There are times when you as their leader must defend your staff from certain situations. A great leader recognizes those situations.

9. Eye for Detail
Successful restaurant leadership calls for an eye for detail. See the restaurant through both the guest's eyes as well as the staff's. Vigilantly seek ways to improve the guest's experience as well as ways to make the job functions of your staff more easily executed.

10. Assume Full Responsibility
The successful restaurant manager must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and the shortcomings of the staff. If you try to shift this responsibility, you will not remain the leader. If one of your followers makes a mistake, and shows himself incompetent, the leader must consider that it is a personal failure and take steps to prevent the situation from happening again.

11. Cooperation
The successful restaurant leader must understand and apply the principle of cooperation and be able to cause his/her followers to willingly do the same.

While this list by no means is intended to be exhaustive, it does contain a foundation upon which a restaurant manager can successfully develop a style of leadership that his/her staff will respect and follow. Without the ability to lead, a manager will find there are no followers. If you're leading and nobody is following... you're only taking a walk.

About the author:  Brian Bruce is an Executive Restaurant Recruiter and Blogger with 23 years of operations experience. His vast knowledge of the industry comes from managing in national concepts such as Chili's and Joe's Crab Shack. Brian understands the day-to-day challenges from both sides of the equation - as a client trying to find quality operations candidates, and as a management candidate trying to find a quality employer. He can be contacted at

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