When you’re a leader, you’re responsible for guiding, providing direction, and fostering teamwork among your team.
Bossing around doesn’t accomplish that.
Take it from me; I’ve seen aspiring chefs and kitchen helpers come and go for years now, because my boss assumes that yelling like Gordon Ramsay and blaming everybody but himself is enough to run a successful kitchen (spoiler alert, it isn’t).
You may have an incredible CV, a hell lot of experience, and carry yourself around like some kind of a big shot, but none of that matters if you can’t actually lead a crew.
Here are five tips on what it takes to be an effective leader.
Carry Yourself Like One
Being a leader is about being professional, understanding and having patience with your staff. Nobody wants to work for someone who expects everybody to automatically know what they’re doing without first guiding them.
One of the tasks my boss makes us do is vacuum pack all the food stock and arrange them in the fridge. But what he doesn’t teach us is how to differentiate between the different types of portions which look identical eg. a chicken chop and a pork steak that are similar in texture. Nor does he teach us the difference between a sirloin and a ribeye steak.
Most of us were new at the time, but to him, if he could do it with his eyes closed, so could you.
Don’t expect knowledge or common-sense to just hit your workers in the head, even if they have previous experience elsewhere. Every workplace is different, so it’s up to you to teach your workers how to adapt to your system by guiding them on the do’s and don’ts.
Show them what to do, guide them if they’re a little blur, and point out their mistakes; don’t just expect them to know everything by themselves and place the blame on everybody afterward for not doing their jobs up to your expectations.
Being a strong leader isn’t about bossing around, subcontracting your work to others, or scolding them unnecessarily – it’s about showing an investment of time and commitment in them.
Learn to Humble Yourself
Even if you’re the boss you’re gonna have to check your ego at the door. Don’t try to run a department out of fear, negativity, and/or pride.
The problem with my boss is that he exaggerates every mistake made by his staff. Whether it’s not having prepared all of the food on time, not checking the stock to see if it’s still fresh, or not closing up the kitchen properly, he’ll be merciless in his comments.
Now I’m not saying that mistakes are OK, and that no one should be punished, but putting fear into your workers is not going to teach them how to perform better. Instead, give them constructive criticism and be calm when talking to them.
Don’t blow up in the heat of the moment or when you’re full of adrenaline. Save it for when things are slowing down and call for a sit-down to discuss the issues. Your staff has to be accountable for every mistake they make, but it’s up to you to get the point across in a respectable way.
Also, always share credit for every success and take the blame when you make a mistake. Never take all the credit for a team effort, and always be the bigger person and own up to your own faults.
Imagine if you worked hard to accomplish something, only to have your boss take credit for it and not even mention your name. And what respect would you have for your employer if they brushed off their flaws but targeted yours constantly?
Treat your workers how’d you like someone to treat you.
A good leader is someone who earns respect rather than demands for it, so if your workers see how you take responsibility for your actions, then they’ll learn to respect you.
Be Fair Towards Them
Favoritism in the workplace is common and it’s something which kills a business.
In my first year working under my boss, I was always the victim of favoritism against someone who ranked higher than me. That person was considered the most trustworthy, so their opinions were always taken as gospel, even if what they said wasn’t true.
They’d usually blame me for their mistakes when my boss wasn’t around and criticise my work, even when I was still a novice. I would try to defend myself but my boss took their word over mine.
As a leader, you have to be fair to your workers. If you’re in a position of authority you shouldn’t take sides out of prejudice – even if that person is your close friend, relative, or significant other. If they’re in the wrong then you have to set them straight.
Don’t be quick to judge a worker’s capabilities just by someone telling you all the flaws they’ve witnessed. They might be trying to ruin a colleague, or make themselves look better by comparison, by exaggerating situations or conjuring up stories. So get your facts right before having a skewed opinion about a worker.
Also, don’t turn the blind eye on one worker’s faults but go after every little mistake made by a different worker – treat all of your workers on equal footing.
Don’t make any worker develop the mindset that they’re bigger than you or your company. Instead, try to find the middle line between being a harsh critic and being passive-aggressive.
Be Able to Build A Team of Leaders
You don’t need to be the boss to be a leader. If you want to have a team that isn’t too reliant on you and be able to help and guide one another without your supervision, it’s important to train your workers to be leaders, too.
Remember what I said earlier about my boss not teaching any of us the proper way to do what he tasked us with? Well, if he would’ve guided us more efficiently to adjust to his system then he would be creating a team that could function more independently and not rely on him as much as they do.
It’s important that you build a group of capable leaders so that they can help each other and also guide new workers.
Everybody deserves a fair chance at proving their worth so guide and train them to be able to lead others. If you show no interest in teaching your current crew, then chances are they’ll show no interest in guiding your new staff, either.
Make Yourself Approachable
This goes back to the type of authority figure you present yourself as to your workers. If you expect people to come to you for advice or give you info on work-related matters, then you need to make yourself approachable.
Develop a bond with them and treat them like a friend rather than an employee. Ask them how their weekends were, make plans to hang out after work, talk about commons interests, etc. Once they see a more human side to you it gets easier for them to come up for advice or tell you something without you needing to ask them.
Most of the new staff in my workplace didn’t go to my boss for advice, but approached me instead. They ask me things like how should they prepare a dish, how long should they cook the fries, or what should they do for prep work, etc.
This is because even though I’m a senior member, I try to connect with my co-workers as much as possible on a more personal level. I know that one of my colleagues likes Formula 1 like I do, while another is finishing his final year in college, and that another coworker is still trying to find her sexual identity.
Learning about your staff’s lives and interests helps to lighten the environment and builds a friendship between you and your employees.
So always try to be close with your workers and play yourself off more like a regular person than their boss – they already know their position compared to yours, so don’t worry about them taking your kindness for weakness.
A leader is someone who guides and develops their employees and makes sure that there is strength in unity.
Try to open yourself up to your environment and realise the flaws with the system and also the strained relationship between you and your workers. If you’re aiming to be successful, self-change is necessary.
For more articles on friendships, read Here’s How I Had (And Coped) with Workplace Anxiety, and 5 Ways to Handle an Emotional Boss.