Leadership Lessons From The Kitchen

Leadership Lessons From The Kitchen

Depending on which side of the fence you are on, it can be rather surprising to learn that the kitchen offers leadership and management lessons to take you through your career and personal life.

  • If You Can’T Stand The Heat, Get Out The Kitchen:

    It’s harsh but it’s true. Kitchens are hot – you’re working in high temperatures while having to do physical work and navigate your way around hazards such as fire and knives. That’s the physical temperature but then you need to add in all the people waiting in the dining room who would like to receive their food within 30 minutes of ordering. To survive in this environment, you will need to think fast, be nimble on your feet and fire on all cylinders. The same can be said for leadership, leadership puts you in the hot seat. There will be times when you will have to be the one saying “no” while everyone else is saying “yes” or the one to make the hard decisions. Leadership is not for everyone – be sure you can stand the heat because if you can’t then you should rather stay out the kitchen.
  • Clear Communication:

    When an item is finished during shift, it is “86-ed”. Let’s say you had prepped 22 baby chickens and you receive 22 orders for baby chicken, you will shout “86 baby chicken”. This lets everyone know there is no more baby chicken. Did you notice the keyword was “shout”? The status of the baby chicken wasn’t mentioned, implied or any other verb. You communicated clearly so everyone heard you and you don’t end upset a server who has to go back to a table and inform them the baby chicken is out of stock and you don’t create an unhappy customer. If the server didn’t hear you or you didn’t communicate the stock status of the baby chicken then you have set them up for failure. You don’t want to shout AT your team but rather TO them so they hear you. Clear and concise communication is vital to leadership. Be clear about goals, roles, processes and decision-making systems – this will set your team up for success.
  • Mise En Place:

    “Mise En Place” is French for “everything in its place”. In this instance, “everything” would be the ingredients needed for a particular meal. You’ll spend hours chopping ingredients, making sauces, creating garnishes, deboning fish and more. This will help you get your dish out in record time and keep the customer happy. Failure to do your Mise En Place will result in slow preparation of meals and create customer complaints. The thing to remember here is to spend time on the preparation so you can make a speedy delivery. Prepare yourself, your team and your tools now to save hours later and prevent complaints.
  • If You Have Time To Lean, You Have Time To Clean:

    If you have time to lean against the wall and wait for the next dish then you have time to clean your station and prepare for the next rush. When there is a rush in the kitchen, it can get a little crazy. The lull between dishes (activities/events) is an invaluable time to prepare for the next one and to move forward in a calm manner – do more preparation. Many leaders will miss this opportunity to evaluate, test and measure the results – they choose to forge ahead.

Do you know any great leaders who implement the above points in the leadership style? We’re sure you can think of a view.