Visiting restaurants is where I learn the most important leadership lessons. Better than conferences, books, speeches, and blogs. Restaurant leaders don’t complicate leadership. They do leadership.
Meet Min Cho, leader of the Popeyes restaurant on Osan Air Force Base in Korea. Min Cho is no ordinary leader. Last year she won the coveted Popeyes Gold plate for running the best international restaurant in our system. I wanted to visit her and learn from her. And I am so glad that I did.
“A leader is one that knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”~ John Maxwell
After looking at the spotless, organized, smooth-running restaurant that Min Cho leads, I asked of her:
“Please tell me your leadership secret.”
Without taking a breath, she said, “I focus on my people. I find that when I do that they take good care of the customer.”
“Tell me more,” I said.
“My people have been with me a long time. We are like family. We live in the same town. We often go out to dinner together.”
“How do you keep thing running well during the day?”
“We talk often. We have three 5-minute meetings each day. We remind ourselves to take good care of the guest, explain the specials, and always up sell dessert. It doesn’t take long, but it keeps us all on the same page.”
At the end of my time with Min Cho, she says to me, “Tell me what your leadership secret is?”
And I said, “My goal as a leader is to be like you. I want to focus on the people. Make sure they have the preparation and resources they need to be successful. I want them to feel like they belong to something important. I want to communicate with people so that we are all on the same page. Frankly, Min Cho, I hope I am half as good a leader as you are.”
“Leaders don’t create followers. They create more leaders.”~ Tom Peters
Meet Amelia Binto Rahman, leader of a new restaurant at 313 Somerset in Singapore. Amelia opened a new restaurant this week, starting with a friends and family night on Tuesday to make sure everything was ready to open on Wednesday. But just four hours before the big event, Amelia was attending a leadership training workshop that I was teaching at a nearby hotel.
I walked up to Amelia and said, “How can you be her at this workshop, looking calm and collected when your new restaurant is opening in a matter of hours?”
She says without hesitation, “The leader must be calm. It tells my team that I have complete confidence in them. They are prepared. There is no need for me to worry.”
Sure enough, the event went off without a hitch. Her team was prepared and capable.
So later in the day I asked Amelia, “Have you always been so calm, collected, and capable?”
“No. Actually I used to be quite different. I used to run around and yell a lot and I was always stressed. It was not a good way to lead. I have changed the way I lead and it is working much better now.”
“Leadership is expressed, not so much in words, as in attitudes and in actions.”~ Harold S. Geneen
There are leadership lessons from real people…
- Focus on your people.
- Treat them like family.
- Talk to them often.
- Help them get ready for the opportunities ahead.
- Be calm.
- Exhibit confidence in your people.
These are the attitudes and actions of leadership.