5 Misconceptions Most Managers Have About Leadership

So, what is your title? Are you a manager or a leader? Before you jump on the “I’m a leader bandwagon”, it's time to really think about it.

You might be suffering from Leadership Delusion. It’s fairly common in this industry. We have a lot of preconceived notions about what a leader really is.

When you look up the definition of what leadership is and it’s a little vague: "The action of leading a group of people or an organization" or "the state or position of being a leader."

That being said it seems that leadership is classified as a noun when in reality it should be a verb.

Leadership is an act.

  • It’s action.

  • It’s a responsibility.

  • It’s accountability.

  • True leadership is not what you do, it’s who you are.

So let’s take a few to look at some of the common misconceptions that most managers have about leadership.

restaurant staff in kitchen

1. Saying You’re a Leader Makes You a Leader

Just because your business card says your a leader or the boss doesn’t mean you are in the eyes of your staff. In fact, most probably joke and call you the “boss”. It doesn’t take much to walk around talking down to the staff and acting like you are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Many strut the restaurant like they are roosters getting ready for a death match. Why? Because they are overcompensating for their lack of confidence. The loudest ones are generally those that are the most afraid inside.

Remember that leadership is never a title. It’s an act of compassion and service towards another that defines a leader.

2. Leaders Get Respect

Sometimes we assume that with one thing comes another. Those promoted to a leadership role often assumed they must respect me.

Free choice is our inalienable right to choose.

Respect falls into the area of free choice. If you earn it, your team will give it to you freely. Try to demand it and it’ll be harder than taking candy away from a baby!

The only way to earn respect is to get out front and actually lead your team. A simple concept and yet one that is avoided the most because their brain is still in “manager mode”.

Verbal signs of being stuck in manager mode:

  • Do what I say, not as I do.

  • I have to do it myself if I want it done right.

  • I have to be here all the time.

  • There are no good people out there.

  • The customer is wrong.

  • The owner/staff/customers don’t get it.

If any of these sounds a little too close to home, then it’s time to switch gears. Being a true leader requires less talk and more action. Getting respect comes from not what you say, instead of from what your actions are on a consistent basis. Remember that most people have worked in average restaurants for average leadership. They are used to hearing all the talk and not seeing any results or change.

teamwork at a restaurant

3. Leaders Don’t Need To Work as Hard

Many managers see leadership are the easy life. That’s because great leaders make it look easy. You don’t see the extra hours they invest in themselves. Great leadership is felt and not seen. It’s not developed just at work, it’s developed by making a commitment to become better.

Great leaders:

  • Read something daily that feeds their mind

  • Take time for self-care to recharge their internal battery (workouts, meditation, journaling),

  • Invest in training by attending seminars, taking courses, or getting a coach (hint, hint).

True leaders work smart and hard. They just don’t work until they burn themselves out. The sign of a manager is one who puts in the long hours yet their productivity is just average. Putting in more hours isn’t always the answer. It’s what you do during those hours that makes a difference.

4. Leaders Need to Be Jerks to Get Results

You can thank reality TV for this stereotype. The chef who yells and screams to get the staff to comply. But raising your voice is a sign of poor management. That old-school mindset that you have to “break them down and build them back up” is archaic and ineffective with today’s workers.

Think about this...do you really want broken down people at your restaurant? Most managers are really good at breaking people down, they just suck at putting them back together! Don’t be that person.

Many managers act like jerks because they think that is how they are supposed to act. Stop that. You will get further and develop your leadership skills when you are your natural self.

Being a leader requires you to...

  • Be authentic.

  • Be genuine.

  • Be honest.

  • Be the example.

  • Being a leader does not require you to act like an asshole.

restaurant manager

5. Leaders are Born

Here is probably the biggest misconception of them all. Leaders are not born, they are created through discipline, self-improvement, self-awareness, and commitment to learning.

Yes, there are some people with natural people skills that may seem like they have a head start. Natural skill is nothing compared to constant steady improvement. The problem with those with natural talent is that sometimes they think they don’t need to improve or get better. They reach a certain level and then they plateau.

The death of leadership happens when you stop growing, stop evolving, and stop improving.

Your restaurant will improve when you improve. Leadership once again is an action. The culture in your restaurant is a reflection of you as the leader.

The beauty of this is that you have it in your control and power to change it all. Drop the bullshit. Let go of the myths around leadership. Stop using bad managers as an example.

Question why are you doing something and search for better alternatives besides the standard, “that’s the way we have always done it." Those that fail to question the past and choose a different path are destined to roam the restaurant industry like the walking dead. They drift from restaurant to restaurant, never developing their leadership skills. Just management zombies that drain a restaurant’s culture before moving on.

You have the power to change. You always have. You just never tapped into it until now.