Posts Tagged ‘Chase LeBlanc’

Leadership is Like Ice Cream | Revisiting a Favorite Blog

Friday, June 21st, 2013

The words “leader” and “leadership” used to be widely accepted terms used to describe a person(s) formally working at the top of any type of organization. Nowadays, these words are frequently used more broadly to include those individuals who contribute to the process of moving things forward at any level in any business setting.

ice creamLeader is a “role” not a job, and you can be plucked from a pile, groomed, bubble-up naturally, force-fed into it or, quite literally, be the last one standing. Leadership is brought into “play” when one is influencing, guiding, and impacting others. Leadership can be top-down, bottom-up, or sideways, and no matter the scope or style, great leadership exists on small, medium, and large scales.

I like to think of it this way, leadership is like ice cream, and the specific business, industry or circumstances are the flavors. It is impossible to use chocolate chip and make it work when pistachio swirl is required, unless you only care about the fact that you used “leadership ice cream” and not about the outcome or how it tastes. Now you know why poor leadership leaves such a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

The mixing of flavors (or leadership styles/skills) is a creative endeavor because it has to be. The quest of all leaders, doing the right thing – at the right time – time after time – is not a science; it’s the repetitive capture of quicksilver. An enlightened/contemporary approach demands different leadership tactics for ever-changing circumstances and roles. You can be a lead cook, server or busser (out in-front-modeling the job in a stellar fashion), but that is different than a General Manager, battlefield leader or neighborhood political leader.

Leadership (at any level) is simply a role like “good-cop/bad-cop” or “keeper-of-the-flame.” It can be definitive or derivative, but still just one of many roles that are played out within any human enterprise.

For me, the beginning, middle and end of leadership is simply the business of flag flying. I’m using “flag flying” as a metaphor for the “things” you represent/provide when one is “in the role” of “being” a leader. I use the example of flag flying because most people can “see” that throughout history, individuals and groups have followed flags, pledged to flags and died for flags.

It has been my experience (in business) that many underestimate the power of “how they are” – which in most cases is equally important to “what they do.” When leaders fly “flags” with clearly depicted “stars & stripes” of past success (competence, elevation & completion and/or consciousness, character & conditions) as representatives of future success, they simply fly higher and are more magnetic than the norm.

Leadership Gets the Sugar

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

SugarBetween management and leadership, leadership always gets the sugar. “Great leaders” are publicized and romanticized as their reputations grow oversized.

Let me take a moment to explain why leadership gets all the sugar. In the sporting world, you have certainly heard the glum billionaire owner offer up the excuse of a “lack of leadership in the locker room” after highly paid talent performed poorly on the field of play. What’s up with that? World-class talent, a quad-million dollar paycheck, and a rich tradition—and they can’t do it by themselves?

Bad Team + Great Leader = Better Team

Bad School + Great Leader = Better School

Bad Store + Great Leader = Better Store

Great leadership can quicken the transformation from losers to winners, no matter how you keep score. Great leadership shines a light that can invigorate or rejuvenate. Great leadership can wipe away today’s pain or panic by focusing efforts toward a better tomorrow. Great leadership can bend steel. Hardened hearts that have been hammered to steel by heartbreak are pried open with great leadership. Great leaders get more sugar (money, power, respect, better jobs) because they bring forth the best chance to achieve success from plans, hopes, and dreams.

Truthfully, not all companies want their managers to be great leaders—it depends on the leadership of the company—and not all managers can be great leaders. Some managers might outright dismiss the extra effort and awareness that is required to realize the ultimate combo-platter. But take a moment and think of the scope of your hospitality/service management job. It likely includes driving sales; controlling costs; meeting or exceeding standards; doling out rewards and punishments; communicating up, down, and across; and serving and protecting the organization, among other things. As such, you need to be part shaman-ambassador-coach-­maintenance worker-camp counselor-traffic cop, or better yet, all leader-manager. I prefer the term leadager, an excellent manager who is an excellent leader, further detailed as not one at the expense of the other but doing both well.

 

The Daydream of a F&B Five-Tool Player

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
Summer is flying by. MLB has just completed its All-Star game and baseball, like any well run sport or business, loves statistics. Baseball (at all levels) takes a very serious (fanatical?) approach when tracking, measuring and quantifying. In baseball you’ll find categories for RBI, HR, BA, ERA, Saves, Wins and many other metrics of the game.  If you’re in the food and beverage business you’d be well served to watch (like a hawk) your ROI, ROA, EBITDA, SpSqF, Comps, “Saves”, “Wins”, and other business metrics.

In baseball, I’ve always been most intrigued by the rarity of a “five-tool” player. A “five-tool” player is thought to excel in all the skills necessary to become an elite player. As you might imagine these skills include hitting prowess (which some measure as “on base percentage” plus “slugging” or “OPS”), base-running and speed, throwing ability, and fielding abilities. In each era of MLB, there seems to be only a handful of players recognized as processing all “five tools.”

It can certainly be stated that by the time a baseball player has arrived at the professional level, they have spent years practicing, being coached and playing in a multitude of actual games, all in an attempt to become more skilled at the above mentioned five “necessities,” but only a few are ever acknowledged as being complete “five-tool” players. It would seem that desire, dedication, fate and DNA all play a role in this designation.

The professional game of baseball would not survive if there was absolute dependence upon “five-tool” players. The game of baseball understands that they are going to have to “make-a-go-of-it” with “four, three or two-tool” players. Depending upon team needs, players that can catch and hit but can’t run, or who possesses any of the various shortfall combinations could still survive and thrive in the “bigs.”  

All of the above – brings a few quick questions to my mind for those in F&B.

1)      Have you ever defined what “five-tool” skills a “top player” (AKA manager) would need to be supremely successful in your organization? If you could draft and track the five essential management skills necessary for success or that you deem most important, what would they be?

2)      Have you developed your “farm system” to the point where your managers (AKA top players) are able to practice skill development, over and over again, before they get to the major leagues? As this is what has been proven over and over again to be the successful approach to professional level skill development.

3)      Have you come to terms with the fact that “five-tool” players and managers are rarer than hen’s teeth, and that you might have to adjust your “game” (systems and support) to acknowledge and thrive in this baseball and business reality?

Daydreaming is not necessarily a bad thing, but when historical facts present themselves – you might be best served by an awakening.

Engagement Buttons: Pressing Players to Invest and Excel

Monday, July 9th, 2012
J.B.S. ASKS…
How do I improve a manager from merely collecting his paycheck to making him or her truly invested in the organization’s success?THE STAFFING DOCTOR ANSWERS…
“Engagement” is a hot topic. It’s a new way of saying, “How do we get them to plug in and fully apply themselves?” The answer is as old as humankind: it’s accomplished through relationship building, and if you’re looking for “proof of life” of that concept, look no further than the success of Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. People want to be plugged in.

The shortcut to improvement is to overcompensate for past shortcomings with Growth, Recognition, and Trust. According to many experts, these are the three bedrocks of employee engagement. Become fiendish about offering professional growth opportunities, provide oversized recognition programs, and transform yourself into the most trustworthy (from within and without) organization in the industry.

If you are looking to improve your manager engagement ratios and you can’t swallow the Big Three in one bite, then take a Vegas approach and increase the odds in favor of the house. In our current world of apps and clicks, you’re not just after job performance; you’ll also need to seize attention and interest. Sorry, but a rule book, time clock, good intentions, and paycheck are not enough to produce riveting engagement. Your odds of engagement success increase with every point of easy participation that you create into the collective/us rather than the individual/you. You need engagement “Easy” buttons.

Here are a few basic questions to get you headed in that direction. Do you have an on-boarding video of the perfect customer/guest experience from start to finish (clear wins for managers from the start)? Are you offering managers subsidies/scholarships toward professional grades/ designations? Have you leveraged your manager crowd-sorcery into “Scout Troops” (Talent Scouts to find fresh talent, Menu Scouts to find new menu items, Idea Scouts to push innovation, Safety Scouts to help reduce accidents, etc.)? Do you have an “Easy” app for at-large volunteerism? Might it be time for an internally facing Manager Concierge, answering questions/ fielding concerns/at-the-ready with helpful in-house navigation?

All in all, if you seek to increase manager engagement, you must create “Easy Us” participation points that engage the Body, Mind, and Spirit of your managers. Come to think of it, you might not want to leave anybody out of that invitation.

Chase LeBlanc is the founder and CEO of Leadagers, LLC, and is a hospitality management performance
coach with more than 25 years of experience. He is also the author of
High Impact Hospitality: Upgrade Your Purpose, Performance and Profits!

http://www.hotelfandb.com/biol/may-jun2012-staffing-doctor-engagement-buttons.asp

Grinding Toward Green: Getting staff to buy in and jump in

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
Chase LeBlanc R.L. ASKS…
How should I go about training green kitchen practices to stubborn, entrenched kitchen staff?

THE STAFFING DOCTOR ANSWERS…
The most basic mistake that fast-moving organizations make over and over again is starting a discussion about proposed organizational changes (of any kind) by asking, “How do we get them to do X?” Ideally, you should begin to approach systemic change with the question “How do we get them to want to do X?” which is also known as creating easy workflow.The first step to answering that question is to ask the constituency. Gather all the facts and figures that make the best case for the proposed changes and have a meeting with the kitchen leaders/forepersons/ defacto leaders or the whole traveling gypsy kitchen band and frame the problem in the following manner: “We have to climb up this green mountain together.”

Contrary to the usual approach, leave out the part where you dictate the “proper” path. In the beginning of a change cycle, you will be far better served by asking for suggestions and allowing for group wisdom, experience, and skills to build a path forward. This frames the desired outcome as “our” problem, not “your” problem.

See what suggestions they might have on the best path to get to where you’d like to be. Maybe they have been waiting for someone to ask them to open up about going green and they’ll have tons of ideas, or maybe your effort will just be met with stone silence. No matter, kick the whole thing off with a nondirective- infected conversation. If you invite ideas and participation in the planning stages, it will almost always be met with a warmer welcome than simply telling employees how it’s going to be.

Eliminating input from those who do the work greatly diminishes your chance for buy-in and, in reality, any chance for the team to personally self-identify with the coming changes (“Hey, we thought of that…”).

Secondly, you have to grease the skids. After all of the priorities, standards, and procedures have been decided, it is imperative that you provide the training, support, and tools to do the job (in the new fashion) correctly. How will you make it easier to follow the transition? Of course, incentives will help if uniformly applied, but most folks wish to do the job right.

Clarity in a fast-paced, everchanging environment can be hard to come by. If you wish to enable a smooth transition from where you are to where you’d like to be, paint a clear picture of what a “win” looks like in the new phase, why it matters, how much the efforts of the contributors count toward success of the program, and the compelling logic of doing the new procedures within the new priorities paradigm.

I know that while many organizations and individuals will balk at the above suggestions and have a list of reasons why it’s not practical for their situation, ANYTHING that narrows the gap between “us” and “them” increases your chances of realizing your green dream change objectives.

Chase LeBlanc is the founder and CEO of Leadagers, LLC, and is a hospitality management performance coach with more than 25 years of experience. He is also the author of High Impact Hospitality: Upgrade Your Purpose, Performance and Profits!

 

Inside Scoop – Being Wrong the Right Way

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

And now…I will shed some light on a not so little secret of organizational life. There are some over-eager beavers who deftly scramble up the political and positional ladder seemingly salivating at the prospect of power. Their mastery of corporate gamesman/woman-ship does not guarantee that they are the “sharpest knives in the drawer.” All too often, my experience has shown that if you were to strip away their job title, many lack the influence or substance for making critical decisions.

Ironically, at times it is the awkward foot-draggers who are more capable of making good decisions, but are unwilling to be pressured into making them and don’t want to be held accountable. This leads me to an important point: Lots of smart and entirely good people have discovered they don’t have what it takes to manage things or lead others.

Leadagers who possess good business judgment, a strong sense of direction, and a willingness to accept the conditions of urgency and accountability without a seedy, overcoat-flashing of their fundamental character flaws are the ideal package. Companies spend a lot of money trying to nurture or “home grow” these traits. Unfortunately, this can be an elusive combination of qualities. Conversely, a lack of motivation, butt-headedness, and proven idiocy lead to professional euthanasia every time. (Trust me on this; the latter traits are pretty darn common.)

So let’s face it. You will have to make many decisions without the experience or the information you may desperately think you need, and inevitably, you will decide incorrectly. You will be wrong, and hopefully, someone will allow you to learn from your mistakes. It might be timing, support from the powers that be, or just luck that saves your job.

Early in your career, one of the most important things to learn is how to be wrong in the right way.

Being wrong the right way looks like this:

  • You made what you thought were sound decisions, striving not to be irresponsible, ignorant, or prejudicial.
  • You can explain your thought process with respect to how you came to the decision in a logical manner.
  • Your values were aligned with the organization’s values.
  • You have shown good judgment on previous occasions.
  • You display a willingness to learn from your mistakes.

If you did all the above, you should come out okay (assuming you didn’t burn the place to the ground).

All new leadagers should be allowed some time to practice alternating the gas, clutch, and brake pedals of managementship (i.e., multitasking and managing/weighing multiple—and sometimes conflicting—priorities [chewing gum and running with scissors for all of you non-driving types]). The fact is most managers are playing the standard game of “catch up” in a starkly maniacal fashion.

I strongly urge you to grow away from being the hapless prey-of-the-day—as events pounce on you—and strive to get ahead of events by becoming a predator of pro-activity, turning activities into accomplishments and churning problems into opportunities.

 

Book Excerpt | Introduction To “High Impact Hospitality”

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

I once had a beast of a dog, a 125-pound, all-black German shepherd named Dakota. He was foreboding in the looks department, but in reality he was just a big marshmallow. Dakota would frequently do the oddest thing; whenever we were standing close together, he would lean on me. His weight was enough to shift my center of gravity and at times I would have to scramble to regain my footing.

At one of his annual veterinary check-ups, I asked the vet whether this posture was common for big dogs looking to take a load off or if this dog just liked being close to me. The vet told me that it is the nature of dogs to slide up against each other and test the weight of the newcomer. I guess my dog was on instinct autopilot, subtly trying to test the competition in case there was going to be a tussle.

I don’t know if the vet was dealing in facts but I like to use this analogy when speaking about management and leadership. There is always something sliding up next to you trying to test your mettle. You are being constantly tested and assessed by the staff, customers, budget, boss, or competition—even your peers.

This book is about giving you a healthy dose of heft. After almost thirty years in the industry I’m hoping to share the solid footing that comes from hard-won wisdom.

Over time, with hands-on experience, I have come to understand that I prefer to work with authentic, caring, trustworthy, and competent people. People who do not possess these traits generally seem to fail at a higher rate. As such, I devoted much of my career to developing myself and my managers into people who were successful (by my assessment and by those who signed our paychecks) even though most of the time, we heard different music in our heads.

I call us leadagers (pronounced as – leed/i/jers), and we are a tribe, a group united by our shared values.

Let’s be clear; not everyone who has worked for me has liked me and certainly not everything I touched turned to gold. However, from the beginning, I was driven to produce more leadagers and tribal leaders, not just more managers or hourly workers. It was somewhere at about the eleven-year mark that I began to realize I excelled in the development of leadagers.

As an owner/operator running a college town hot spot, I got started developing people when I was twenty-one years old. I was learning from my management mistakes before most people get a chance to make ’em. (Check out Malcom Gladwell’s book, Outliers, and look up the 10,000 hour rule-of-thumb. He basically states that ten years of practice is just about how long it takes to become really good at something.)

It’s not like I ignored any of the million little details that go into running a successful hospitality operation; you have to know the right thing to do to teach the right thing to do. It’s just that developing managers into strong leaders is what I poured my heart into.

I come forward now with this humble effort, targeting the following audiences: (1) assistant managers looking for more traction on their way up the mountain, (2) any level of manager in the service sector (general managers included) who is trying to improve their plate-spinning abilities, (3) hourly tribemates with ambition, and (4) anyone wishing for a peek into the mind of a “new-style” manager.

Let me be clear: There is no one right way to be successful in this industry or any other, for that matter. This book is an answer to many questions but it is not the answer to all problems.

With that in mind, may my mistakes help you to avoid some pitfalls, my knowledge be a force for good, and my travails tickle your fancy.

(Damn, I loved that dog!)

 

Check Yourself | The Top-5 Bad Things You Can Avoid

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

 

Check Yourself | The Top-5 Bad Things You Can Avoid

Hotel F&B November/December 2011

Chase LeBlanc “Expect the best but prepare for the worst” is a well worn but useful adage for our industry. The following are my top five bad things that can be avoided with proper preparation, priorities, and training/development.

  • Food-borne illness. A prep cook changed his baby’s diaper at home just prior to his shift. He was running late, forgot to wash his hands, and as soon as he got to work, jumped right into prepping lettuce for salads. That one unsanitary act (1) made about 20 people sick, (2) led the local TV newscast after the Super Bowl, (3) cut property sales in half by the next day, and (4) left the survival of the business touch-and-go for about 18 months. Boom, just like that! In our business, you must become a food safety fanatic.
  • Liquor license suspension or revocation. A bartender hoping to impress an attractive member of the opposite sex slides the “customer” a few drinks without checking his or her ID. Just so happens that the customer is an underage/undercover operative, and it is a sting operation. Boom, just like that! It’s a citation for the bartender with possible fines and a violation of the liquor licensing laws, unleashing a torrent of hassles. You must set a serious tone among all employees; the service of licensed beverages is a privilege and a heavy responsibility. Do not treat it lightly or allow others to do so. One misstep can put the property permanently out of the spirits business.
  • Robbery with injury. A friend of mine took a new job as a closing manager. The first week on the job, he walked out to the dimly lit parking lot after buttoning things up and was met by a man with a gun who marched him back inside. Boom, just like that! They spent many scary minutes together as my friend fumbled the safe dial before giving over the money and getting a crack on the head in return. No amount of money is worth someone getting hurt. Do all the things you can do to deter a criminal act, such as brilliant parking lot lights, strict back door entry procedures, frequent lock changes, daily bank deposits, only opening the safe when the office door is closed, secure smoke break areas (if any exist), video surveillance, and consistent diligence.
  • Accidents. An elderly guest slipped, fell, and broke her hip on a wet bathroom floor. A cook slices off a fingertip on an unguarded kitchen fan. Boom, just like that! If a guest or team member is ever at risk of injury, you must fix or repair the problem immediately. A negligence lawsuit (translation: your group can lose big money) originates from a problem that you knew about, or even should have known about but chose to ignore or deny. Push for nonslip footwear, heavy-lifting back supports, etc. From a business culture perspective, constantly build, reinforce, and reward a safe, accident-free mindset.
  • Harassment. I have had friends who were too old, new, wide, light, dark, etc.—and have suffered through the impossible difficulties of workplace harassment. The ideal workplace culture should be all for one and one for all with diversity viewed as an immense plus and an opportunity for new knowledge, rather than a wall between “us” and “them.” Your team or tribe cannot tolerate anyone being harassed because of his or her gender, sexual orientation, religion, mental/physical challenges, age, and so forth. If you ever find yourself challenged by doing the right things when it comes to others at work, you could start by changing your point of view. View all people by our sameness from the inside out, not the apparent differences from the outside in. We all bleed red; we all breathe the same air; we all roll on the same earth. Or, you could just pause for a moment and reflect on this: Would I want my girlfriend, wife, mother, daughter, son, brother, father, or boyfriend to have to take this smack I’m dishing out?

The unexpected can happen anywhere, at any time. Proper preparation, priorities and training won’t stop all the bad things from happening, but proactive actions almost always lead to better results than reactive actions do.

Chase LeBlanc is the founder and CEO of Leadagers, LLC, and is a hospitality management performance coach. He is also the author of High Impact Hospitality: Upgrade Your Purpose, Performance and Profits!

Hotel F&B Magazine December 2011 | Review of “High-Impact Hospitality”

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Book Review: “High-Impact Hospitality” by Chase LeBlanc

Recommended for anyone making a career in hospitality or wishing to take their employees to a higher level.
Hotel F&B professionals who want to increase both their compensation and career satisfaction should read High Impact Hospitality by Chase LeBlanc, HOTEL F&B’s “Staffing Doctor.” This is a marvelous read: funny yet wise, inspiring but practical, combining LeBlanc’s considerable hands-on hotel experience with sound gut instincts.

He begins by defining the two key roles every F&B pro should strive to fill, those of manager and leader, explaining how they are different and complementary. He calls people who have achieved this dual competence “Leadagers.” These professionals are adept at both “hard” management tasks such as cost control and scheduling and also excel at “soft,” almost artful, ways of thinking and acting for the good of themselves and their “tribe” (as he refers to the entire staff).

So how does one become a Leadager? LeBlanc weaves these hard and soft objectives together throughout the book. In “Make More Dough,” he lists several creative ways to increase your value, such as being a sunshine-maker, a business mechanic, a shepherd, a trustee, etc. In “Duality Maze,” he talks of organizational realities and pitfalls, how to avoid working for buffoons, and dealing with management’s often relentless push for performance and profitability.

Throughout the book, LeBlanc establishes his credentials through experiences, beginning as a 16-year old dishwasher, becoming a bar owner at age 21, then proceeding through the managerial ranks at various hotel chains and as a multi-unit operator for a national restaurant chain. He is now CEO of Leadagers LLC, a hospitality consulting business providing professional development tailored for hotels and restaurants. He can be contacted at 303-997-9328, www.leadagers.com. —ADS

Check Yourself | Compound Experience

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

http://www.hotelfandb.com/biol/jan-feb2012-staffing-doctor-dream-job.asp

Chase LeBlanc KEITH ASKS…
I have been working in restaurants, bars, and hotels for 13 years. I am also completing my MBA in general management. I know the best way to upper management is through time and experience, however, with my degree, how can I leverage my experience and schooling in the business of F&B?

THE STAFFING DOCTOR ANSWERS…
Education, experience, and desire are not enough to achieve “upper management.” You have to leverage all of your experiences into a solid, results-filled record over a period of years. Also, any international experience is becoming a trump card for promotions.

First, develop a clear picture of your dream job and track backwards. Talk to anyone, anywhere in that job and get their download. Ask them questions about what it takes to get there, who might help you on your quest, and whether they’ll make an introduction. Find any association or group of like-minded people and join the conversation. Study the specifics, master the skills, and move in the circles of who you wish to be. You will always have a better shot at any job if you have previously established relationships, with or without the appropriate experience, education, or desire.

Second, get your values in order. We all know life is a series of tradeoffs. When facing an important decision, many advice-dispensers suggest taking a sheet of paper, drawing a line down the middle, and writing at the top of each side pros and cons. Do not use this approach without assigning weighted values to the details. What’s most important to you?

For each individual, all the ingredients that go into the process of decision-making do not carry the same cost or weight. Values lead the leader; spend some time ruminating on your values before you step into the big leagues of management where choices and decisions affect more than yourself.

Third, have you ever heard of compound interest? I suggest that there exists such a thing as compound work experience. Compound work experience provides that as you learn, you automatically increase your chances for advancement. Compound work experience is acquired by (1) working for the best organizations, (2) working for a successful leader-mentor, (3) working where the opportunities for advancement are plentiful, and (4) working where the varieties of experience are bountiful. This is a workplace where you are allowed to challenge yourself and to grow, a place where accepting more responsibility will eventually translate into more money for you, a place that acknowledges/ nurtures your involvement/participation and consistently shows appreciation for your contributions, a place that holds you accountable when you don’t sufficiently contribute, and ultimately, a place that provides a wealth of value to you through means that are not purely financial.

In order to find an opportunity that allows for compound work experience, you must search, assess, and evaluate the trade-offs. This, by the way, is vastly different than conveniently going to the nearest F&B factory and applying for any ol’ job. Take a shot at the job that gets you in the door of the right place with the right people. Look for those savvy business carnivores who crave to maximize your potential.

Chase LeBlanc is the founder and CEO of Leadagers, LLC, and is a hospitality management performance coach with more than 25 years of experience. He is also the author of High Impact Hospitality: Upgrade Your Purpose, Performance and Profits!