Posts Tagged ‘Leadagers’

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

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!

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!

Check Yourself | The Top 5 Bad Things You Can Avoid by Chase LeBlanc

Friday, January 6th, 2012
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.

Code of the West

Monday, November 14th, 2011

I have lived up, down, in the middle and on both sides of the USA, but I was raised in the West. I’m not a farmer or rancher, but as I was growing up I had a chance to spend some time “learning the ropes” from my relatives who were both. You had to be hardy, smart and tough to make it in either place. Savvy skill-craft was prized, and so was an even disposition. You had to hold up your end of the bargain or you were sent packin’.

There was also a code, an unwritten agreement that bracketed your conduct. Lying, cheating or stealing were absolute no-fly zones, and you had to offer the other guy a “fair chance” in just about everything you did. I know some people will pass off my code recollections as myth, but I was not hanging out in Hollywood with A. Ladd, G. Cooper or J. Wayne – just with real people living real lives. In fact, responsible conduct was a major contributing factor to their sense of community and stewardship of the land. And, there was a word woven into their daily lives that is so old fashioned — I feel compelled to dust it off just to use it in this sentence — RECIPROCITY — the “soul-coal” that stoked many barn raisings, harvests and roundups.

In light of the recent news of a MAJOR FAILURE of institutional leadership @ Football U (or u name it) that dominated last week’s headlines and Sunday’s news programs, I thought it might be timely to share a few relevant “rules of the trail” that I know have been valuable to myself and others who aspire to become respectable, responsible citizens and leaders in their own right.

Be kind to kids and your horse

Don’t take any wooden nickels

Own a sharp knife and a sharper set of eyes

If you have some… share some with them that ain’t got none

If your best dog bites you more’n once… he ain’t your best dog

Doing the right thing ain’t courage… it’s just doing the right thing

Don’t make friends with rattlers… them that ain’t got feet…or them that do

A “howdy” and a smile cost you nuthin’… don’t make nobody pay to git one

If you Rodeo… 8 seconds can change your life and if you don’t… they still can

An honest day’s work for an honest day’s dollar means a lot, but your honest word means more

Leadership: @ or 4 | Are You and Your Team Working Hard at Being Both?

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

“Low-down, dirty, good for nuthin…”

I still remember the first time I heard my Grandfather deliver his ultimate displeasure with another human being.  It was his considered opinion that you could be “good at” something and still be “good for nothing.”  As he saw it there were people who were darn fine farmers, welders, mechanics, truck drivers, hunters, and so on, but if your positive-character flag wasn’t flying high, he’d keep his distance.

When it comes right down to it, leadership is influence. Yes, most organizations hold high the tangible metric “results” of the system/process/push and pull, but when it comes to people, the influencers at every level are the true leaders.

For generations there have been debates about the concise definition of leadership. The truth is, it depends. Leadership definitions are dependent on the team, situation, fate, timing, and most certainly upon the width or height of your travails. Additionally, it depends if you are speaking of leadership in the arena of business, military, science, religion or politics. And, it depends on whether you’re seeking a descriptor of leaders who are edgy or plain-Jane, powerful or powerless, figureheads or headless figures.

You can spend a lifetime learning a skill(s) that will earn you more money, and that is notable. You can spend a minute or two on a dark path and ruin a lifetime of goodwill, and that too is notable. In the midst of those who view the world as clear-cut, black or white, good or evil – there exists some grey areas.

In this blurry arena of grey is where true leaders dwell. There are realities that challenge best-hatched plans, self control, vision and values; situations where you face hard choices, tough luck and tough decisions. In these circumstances it is better to be good at something and good for something, as it has been shown time and again that working for the greater good is the most sustaining, gratifying, and dare we say, fulfilling. Perhaps simply it is best described as the “greater of the goods.” During your next leadership performance assessment (on yourself or others), stop for a moment and ponder – @ and 4 – are you and your team working hard at being both?

 It is — and has always been — the right leadership flag to fly.

Better By Design

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

When I started out in our industry nearly 30 years ago, an “event” was understood by everyone to be the opening of a new store or property. As time went along, a new definition for an “event” came to the fore in which the entirety of a guest visit to your operation became something to design with a sharp eye toward the “enhancing the experience.”

In the mind’s eye of your guests, an “event” may still be a wedding, anniversary, birthday or celebration of a child’s rite of passage, but for operators the daily pressure of creating a lasting memory of differentiation at each visit through a strong value proposition, seamless hospitality, ease of interface, or authentic-ness is monumental.

This brings me to Las Vegas, where last week had a chance to use my “guest-eyes” over a four day period. In that city of iridescence, as I watched all players compete to over-stimulate their guests, it becomes obvious that they have brought the definition of an “event” down to the level of menu offerings. At every ordering opportunity the biggest, freshest, zaniest, or most unusual is available and will smack you right between your eyes/lips upon arrival. Yes, in most cases you have to pay a premium for this experience extraordinaire and it would not “go over” everywhere, but it is difficult to deny the “bang” that well crafted design can bring to a menu item. This, of course, is merely a reflection of a significant trend in business where outstanding design is soundly trumping all other business levers.

The above brings me to your in-house Training/Development/Learning Team. Is there a chance that they would be better served by thinking about a new educational design paradigm, i.e., they are actually in the “brain-food” business?

You already know that they/you make internal products for mental consumption, right? Do you take any cues from your industry surroundings? Do you set the table, provide appetizers or salad, main-course, beer or wine pairing and dessert? Do you create memorable mental meals or knowledge crave-ables? Are they snack-size, shareable or handheld? Are they full-service, fast-casual or fast-fine? Do you have a T/D equivalent gesture for chocolate on the pillow at turndown?

These are time-tested formulas for delivering products for human consumption. Are you leveraging your expertise in one area of your business – to another?

Is there a methodology that is intended to drive traffic to your business… that you can transfer to internal learning?

Do you have developmental LTO’s, curbside pick-up, seasonal specials, discount coupons or frequency programs?

I’m asking because nowadays, design matters for everyone in our industry. Your internal customers are seeking the same things that your external customers are seeking – convenience, choice, value, and satisfaction. You’re also trying to overcome learning conditioning. If you can breakthrough to the brain receptors in charge of (insert your own air quotes here) “Tasty” I can guarantee that you’ll stand out and enjoy more success than if you are serving from a standard training and development smorgasbord.

“Better by design” is the sign of the times and not all of it should face outward.