The Top 12 Skills Every Manager Should Have

Top 12 Skills Every Manager Should Have

OCTOBER 3, 2014 / DIKRANISKENDERIAN / EDIT     Last Edit on Feb 3 of 2015

I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people. Mahatma Gandhi

How does one become a Super Leader?  Super Leadership is actually a type of leadership coined by 2 authors. Superleadership is a style of leadership conceived by Charles Manz and Henry Sims, and based on individual self-leadership. It is broadly similar to situational leadership theory, rebranding concepts of employee development under a marketable banner. It is often described as “Leading others to lead themselves” (Wikipedia).

That’s a nice way to think of leadership, however as someone that has studied and practiced both management and leadership in the last 20 years, I can tell you that there is not one style that works with every crew. Different people have different styles, and each is suited to people’s needs. That said, no matter what your style of leadership (see 12 styles of Leadership chapter), there are 12 principles of Leadership that apply to everyone. There are some principles and behaviors all effective leaders share.

Here are the 12 S’s of Effective Leadership:

1) Serene. A leader has to be sure of himself or herself.  This goes beyond confidence. People often talk about Steve Jobs and his legendary sphere of influence he had not only on employees of Apple but also partners, investors, the consumers that bought all his products, as well as the media and press that covered Apple’s product launches. It was almost like a force field of susceptibility that worked on everyone that came close enough to experience his persuasive powers. A real leader is always calm. Think of a storm, and the elder is always at the eye of the storm. In a hurricane the damage is done all around the sphere of influence of the hurricane, and in the middle is called the “eye of the storm”. An effective leader is someone who is this “eye of the storm”.

In the restaurant business this pertains to so many situations that call for calm nerves. Food is burned and customers are upset, employees get in fights with one another, the line is too long and people are waiting too long for their food, the delivery is late, the money didn’t get tot he bank on time, and so many other potential situations occur in a restaurant operation on a daily basis. A restaurant owner and managers have to have the Serene disposition that’s always required of them to deal with such situations. Practice meditation, exercise, sleep well, and eat right. You will need to do all these things to always be in the right frame of mind so when these situations hit, you are well prepared.

Criticism must be used lightly. A gentle wind kindles, while a strong wind kills a fire. Chinese Proverb

Proverbs 14:30 A serene heart can add years to one’s life; but jealous passion rots the bones.

2) Skillful Competence is always required for effective leaders and managers in the restaurant field. If you are not adept at Word or Excel, you should not be doing the bookkeeping. If you are not a trained chef, you should not be doing the cooking. A real leader knows how to designate tasks and only does the things at which they are most skillful. If you feel you do not have the wisdom and training required to do the job, go to school. Do this before you open the restaurant. A leader is a professional that everyone else relies on. This is no time for fun and games. You really have to brush up on your skill, and you have to do so formally.

Those pathetic online classes are useless and don’t count toward training a real leader. Getting a book is often more beneficial, so I am not suggesting you go waste your time and purchase online classes and get worthless degree to put on your wall. I am suggesting take a bar-tending class. Take a class at Cordon Bleu or become a licensed chef. If you can’t do this hire those that have these qualifications. Go back to school and get a real bachelor’s degree in management or finance. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can “wing it”. If you open a restaurant and you’re not a skilled leader, it will fail, guaranteed. If you listen to this advice alone you already made your money back from buying this book. Proverbs 4:7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

3) Steadfastness Do you know what being steadfast means? Another way of saying this, the rude way, is to call someone stubborn (a mother “S” word). Can you guess how many times in my life I have been called stubborn? You guessed it, hundreds of times. Well let me tell you something, I would not have gotten a Bachelor’s degree in Management if I were not stubborn. Those restless studying sessions and sleepiness nights paid off, because I refused to quit. Why did I refuse to quit? I chose not to quit because I’m stubborn. Steadfastness helped me push through UCLA Extension’s difficult marketing program, something I finished during a very difficult and heart-wrenching divorce. It would have been so easy to give up and walk away. Trust me when I say not finishing a degree or certificate is a lot easier than finishing it.

Our mind and body always come up with a 1,000 excuses why we should not study late, work hard, or achieve more. You have to fight through the pain. If you don’t, you will never achieve more than most people. Don’t you want to be special? I do too, so doing all of what I had to in order to push through was so worth it. Guess what? The pain is over for me now, but the rewards remain. they are all framed on my wall, and while it doesn’t mean much to others to me it means the whole world. I kicked my own ass to get those degrees and certificates. And this should be your attitude too. Never give up! Don’t listen to the naysayers and haters. They are all fat, broke, and stupid. We don’t want to be like them, they want to be like us!

Wealth stays with us a little moment if at all: only our characters are steadfast, not our gold.  Euripides

4) Single-Minded Be relentless in your pursuit of excellence! Why did I put the word Single-minded? Most leaders only focus on one thing at a time. Their focus is like a laser. Think of how powerful a laser is. It can burn through anything. Now think of a ranged ray of light like the sun. Although it is powerful, it radiates us with light but it can’t burn through things like a laser can. As leaders we need to be like a laser. Focus on one thing at a time until you get it done, and then move on to the next thing. I used to be someone that used to multitask a lot. If you are like this, please realize this is the worst way to get ahead. Whoever invented multitasking was not a real leader.

It’s a great way to get things done in a sloppy manner, and usually not done at all. Have you noticed when you try to text and drive and listen to music you are not at your best? Or when someone is talking to you while texting on the phone at the same time? Not only is this rude but it’s very counter-productive. Be single-minded and get projects done with laser light focus, on time. You must be passionate, you must dedicate yourself, and you must be relentless in the pursuit of your goals. If you do, you will be successful.  Steve Garvey

5) Shaper People that help shape the future are often very creative, and leaders are creative by their nature. If you want to think like a shaper, you have to stop conforming to all these laws and stipulations that exist in everyone else’s mind. You have to break free from the “box” and become a truly creative person. Now I would like to think I am a very creative person. I know this because I am only truly happy when I am creating. Creating photography books, creating web sites, creating posters and banners, creating our menus and menu boards, creating ideas and concepts from nothing to actualization. I love the concept of creating and patenting our ideas and visions. The United States of America is the best country in the world to do this, with the highest and best forms of protection for creators in the entire globe. This is great because, as you may have realized, there are so many worthless copycats out there.

I have no respect for people who just copy others’ ideas instead of working hard to come up with their own. A real leader shapes the future. Think of Steve Jobs and how he shaped the future even after his death. Think of Ray Croc and how he shaped the future of the fast food industry with rigid systems and practices he mainstreamed at McDonald’s. Think of Henry Ford and what he did with the manufacturing and selling of automobiles. His legacy is being repeated now by billionaire Elon Musk and the car company Tesla. Why is Tesla so popular? Because it has given the middle finger to the oil and gas industry, manufactured amazing quality automobiles, and has been tremendously successful while at the same time helping the environment. Why have not one of the other various billion-dollar car companies of the world not been able to do this? The reason is that they don’t have effective leaders like him.

The day they get one, they will. A leader that shapes the future in the restaurant industry will be remembered long after they are gone. Is it possible to do what Howard Schultz did to coffee with Starbucks with Zankou Chicken in the fast-casual Mediterranean food market? Yes it is possible, but it is difficult. We hope and dream to shape such a future where there is a Zankou Chicken in every major city in America. Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. William Jennings Bryan

6) Sophisticated As a leader you have to be sophisticated. You must be shrewd and sound, smart and sensible, scholarly and sapient. How do you become all of these things? It’s a mix of street smart and school smart. While I believe the “street smart” is something God has put inside us and can’t be learned, people can always work hard and better themselves. You want to be a sophisticated leader in your field, whatever that may be. Even if you don’t work in restaurants, you have to dress nice and act the part if you are to be a trusted leader. My dad used to dress in jeans and T-shirts for many years. he would go in and out of the kitchens and would work hard, so he sweat a lot. He hated suits, but people always told him that if he was the CEO of Zankou Chicken, he had to wear a suit. Finally my dad relented, and after that he was always in a suit when he left the house. People treat you different when you act and look sophisticated. Try wearing a nice suit one day and go out to the malls and other areas around your town. See if people treat you different than when you’re in sloppy jeans and T-shirts. I promise you will see the difference. And once you do, you’ll be hooked on dressing nicer, as nice as possible.

We’re all human beings, but some of us are more sophisticated at covering our flaws. We’re just smart enough to lie to ourselves that everything is OK.  Mehmet Oz

7) Studious No leader is respected unless they work harder than everyone else. Wake up earlier, stay at work later, and let everyone see how much you love and push your brand. If you are not lifting a finger, why should everyone else around you work so hard? In the restaurant industry there is no room for excuses. Be studious in that no matter how many degrees you get or how much you know, you are always a student in your field. Being studious will always keep you curious and entertained. Resists the urge to “shut off”. Remember, we never know enough, and we usually know less than we think we know. Socrates, one of the greatest Greek philosophers of all time, said,” All I know is that I know nothing.” This is a good place to start, to assume you know nothing.

That’s what I had to do in order to write this book. I had to take writing classes for 3 years, read about 50 books total on the various subjects I am talking about, and rely on my 25 years owning and running restaurants with my family. You would think that would be enough to just write out of sheer memory and experience. You’d be wrong. I had to start from scratch for almost every chapter of this book, researching the facts and figures, quotes and studies. Such has to be our attitude in order to learn and grow. I asked the simple question, “If I was opening a restaurant for the first time what kinds of question would I ask? What would I like to know? Believe me none of the answers and materials came only from me but from hundreds of books and articles, hours and hours of research. I am thankful we were able to crate something we could look back and be proud of, because the ideas presented here are not just my own but from the best of the best. Leaders we had to find and interview to gain these invaluable pearls of wisdom.

People who make the choice to study, work hard or do whatever they endeavor is to give it the max on themselves to reach to the top level. And you have the people who get envy and jealous, yet are not willing to put that work in, and they want to get the same praise.  Evander Holyfield

The Chinese word for “crisis” is the character for danger in front of the character for opportunity. Often in life we are faced with immense danger as in many of the stories in this book, and after that comes great opportunity. It’s odd that often during the time of stress and in the midst of the worst and most difficult moments, we feel beat down and worthless. The wind is punched out of us and we don’t want to fight on or go on, and sometimes we feel as though nothing is worth this amount of stress. It’s in those moments when we should remember this old, Chinese proverb, that opportunity often follows even the worst of events. Often these events are life’s way of waking us up, showing us how lazy or asleep at the wheel we have been, and alerting us to change course. They are life’s alarm clocks or sirens, if you will. It takes a studious person to recognize these moments and actually make something positive out of them.

8) Sincere Integrity goes a long way when you are a leader. Regardless of what religion or philosophy you adhere to, the laws of integrity, sincerity, and truthfulness apply to every single person. Your followers will not respect you if you are not sincere. Imagine someone that perches a certain way, and after work he or she lives a lifestyle completely contrary to what they preach. Imagine a boss that’s barking orders at all the employees, then he rests inside the office and plays Angry Birds or World of Warcraft all day. You can’t be a respected leader if you simply bark orders and retreat to your man cave and play Minecraft. Life doesn’t work this way. You have to be in the filed, training and fighting with your team at all times. You have to help the crew understand and appreciate every nuance of the business. You have to have such truthfulness that people will trust your words, such that you need not repeat yourself or swear to anything.

“Let your yes be a yes and your no be a no” the Bible says. This means we must be so honest with people that they never have to second-guess us. This means making tough decisions sometimes; it also means that when we make mistakes we openly admit them. “Yes I did that! I ordered 32,000 menus and made a mistake. I didn’t double check enough, and now we have to spend another $7,000 on menus. Sorry, but this is what happened.” This is better than lying or laying blame on others. When we do this it forces us to make sure to double check, triple check not only our facts but all our decisions, from large to small. We will never make no mistakes, we are human beings. But we can make fewer mistakes.

If you lie, if you take the easy way out, the short cut, you can assume with 100% accuracy that you will not grow as a person. I have a funny story about lawyers we hired once. It was for a business case and I needed a business lawyer, so I hired a firm in Pasadena for something I needed. Now this was not a huge case, it was a case where I just needed some paperwork done with a certain amount of finesse. I figured these guys might help. After many phone calls and meetings, as most cases go, we were almost at a resolution and I had to go and discuss some terms of the agreement with their law firm, which shall remain nameless for the purposes of this book.

These guys started talking about strip clubs and hookers. I got a little bit uncomfortable, not because I have never heard of these topics, but because it felt like I was in a frat club and not a respectable law firm. These clowns were joking about spending $5,000 in one night on a strip club, and how they planned to do it again and up the ante, spending $10,000 for the following weekend. Then they laughed about how funny it was that their wives didn’t know what they were up to, or how they would flirt and the misdeeds they were so proud to talk about in front of me, someone they barely know. Let me take this opportunity to say, first of all, that I would never do business with a man that cheats on his wife or disrespects his wife. My reasoning for this is simple: If he cheats on his wife he has no respect for his wife, himself, or his family. If he has no respect or integrity for his own family, how much contempt would he have for me?

Thanks but no thanks. Secondly, any time I see evidence of this behavior I immediately cut off all relations and business with such people. I stopped working with a guy that fixes soda machines because he would brag about cheating on his wife. I’m sorry, but to me that is neither funny nor amusing. Have fun before your marriage but respect your family and your marriage. Do you think I ever did business with that law firm again? Of course not. They were disgraceful fools. The money they make does not impress me, and neither did their juvenile stories of strip clubs. It’s not hard to go to strip clubs. The point is having a high level of trust and integrity is very important, and if you want to get anywhere as a leader in the restaurant industry, make sure you start with these essential tools: trust, honestly, integrity, and most of all sincere in everything you do. Let people describe you with these words when you’re not around. Be a good listener so they come to you again and again.

Just as they need you today, you will need them tomorrow. One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. Bryant H. McGill

9) Stability Have you ever been around a person that’s changing moods faster than changing socks? They are super happy one minute and Debby Downer the next. Their highs are through the roof, and their lows are valleys deeper than the darkest holes. They are no fun to be around, and their direction is very confusing. They don’t know what they want or how to get there. As a leader it’s vital that your directions, mannerisms, and vocabulary are crystal clear. You can’t be moody. In front of employees, business associates, investors, and customers, you have to project a consistent and positive tone throughout the time they spend with you. When you go home you can cry and dance all you want, simultaneously if you so wish. But in the mornings and afternoons at work put on your best suit and your happiest face you possibly can. This is no times for fun and games, and no one wants to deal with a drama queen. Keep the drama at home. You are a compass and a guide for all the followers looking to you for constant advice and direction; show them stability and be a good example for them.

There are times I am happy. There are times I am sad. But I always try to separate emotion from the need to reach for something stronger, deeper. And then no matter the emotion, I can reach for a stability that helps me accomplish what is the goal.   Troy Polamalu

10) Self-Restraint Patience is a very valuable virtue. I didn’t know how important it is until I realized how long some of these projects take. It take 18 months to 2 years to open a new restaurant. It took me 6 months to create a revised catering menu, 2 years to create a totally updated and revised web site, and over a year on creating a regular menu revision. I was tempted so many times to end it quickly and just walk away. There were so many other projects waiting for me, and temptation comes at you every day in the way of distractions and amusements to get your mind off focus. A true leader needs a healthy amount of self-restraint in order to finish work on time and produce great results. Not only that but people will enjoy talking to you and spending time with you if you show patience. You can be more empathetic to their needs and concerns. This comes with practice for entrepreneurs, because often we like to brush people aside in the pursuit of our huge goals and dreams.

Leadership consists not in degrees of technique but in traits of character; it requires moral rather than athletic or intellectual effort, and it imposes on both leader and follower alike the burdens of self-restraint. Lewis H. Lapham

11) Smart Well, of course a leader has to be smart. Wisdom and soundness comes with practice. You can’t learn everything about the restaurant business overnight. How much of this are we born with, and how much can we learn? There are dozens of books devoted to this topic. Is a leader born or is he or she made? Our genes determine how much of whom we are, but how much is determined by our surroundings and upbringing? It’s probably a mix of both. But one thing I know for sure and I can attest to, practice makes us better. If you take many pictures, you will become a better photographer. I have taken over 50,000 pictures in my lifetime. I have taken over 20,000 pictures with DSLR cameras. I have created over 7 photo books and journals, and it seems as though the next one is almost always better than the previous one. Why do you think that is? No matter what our God-given talents, if we work hard and practice on them we can always get better.  So if you are not that smart by way of general IQ scores, read more books. Listen to audiobooks in the car, take more classes, and practice more.

You will become better and better with time. Before this book the longest thing I ever wrote was a 47-page essay for a master’s degree class at Woodbury University in Burbank. It was our thesis for the degree in leadership. How much harder is it to write a 380-page book than a 47-page essay? It’s infinitely harder, because although I wrote that paper in about 3 weeks of non-stop work, the book took over 4 years. But I did not want to think of it this way. I just thought of it as small hills to climb versus this huge, insurmountable mountain. I wrote for class after class, and I listened to classmates critique my material. Sometimes it was not easy, after all this was my art, and to hear other people put it down hurts a little bit. But unless you open yourself up to criticism and wisdom from others who have already been there, you can never get the help you need to become better. So being smart is not something that someone either has or does not have. It’s a life principle and you can grow by design, into a better and smarter person by struggling more, reading more, and spending more time doing things that matter.  There are no excuses to not take more classes or read more books. Don’t tell me that they are expensive and you can’t afford it. You can’t afford not to buy them. And don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

Be afraid of not making mistakes, because this means you’re not trying. Make more mistakes and in a faster routine, such that you learn and grow and expand as fast as possible, and hopefully your earnings will soon follow. A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. John C. Maxwell

12) Sixth Sense There is a lot of talk today about intuition, or what many people call “second sight” capabilities of some people. How did Steve Jobs predict how successful iPhones and iPods would be? The truth is he didn’t. Just like the rest of us, he made many mistakes; but at least he tried. He looked at the facts and made the best guess he could into where the future was going. He gave people what “they didn’t know they wanted”. We must be the same way. Look at the food industry now. What kind of shape is it in? What is the one niche that no one has grabbed? What is a style or type of restaurant that has not been tried, but if it were tried in the right location would be a huge success? This takes a tremendous amount of knowledge and intuition. Not everyone is gifted with the “sixth sense”, a spiritual eye that sees into the future. Some of us have this talent, and if we do we must be sure to use it for the good and not to harm others. As a leader, look at the restaurant space and make a calculated decision to see where it’s going. This is how you wild determine what kind of restaurant to open. I wish you much luck and success. Just don’t open a chicken restaurant across the street from us.

Your time is limited; so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Find the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  Steve Jobs

Enlightened leadership is spiritual if we understand spirituality not as some kind of religious dogma or ideology but as the domain of awareness where we experience values like truth, goodness, beauty, love and compassion, and also intuition, creativity, insight and focused attention.  Deepak Chopra

The more you trust your intuition, the more empowered you become, the stronger you become, and the happier you become.  Gisele Bundchen

12.5 Street Smart The last thing I want to add here is “street smarts”. This is different than the previously mentioned characteristics. It’s not the same as wisdom, which is gained from making the right decisions. It’s not gained from knowledge, which is gained from doing many hours of extensive research and homework.

Street Smarts are something else entirely. It may indeed be one of those rare, expensive gifts God rarely gives out. People like 50 Cent have it, as well as people like Richard Branson of Virgin. These people didn’t get much formal education, yet they often make millions, sometimes billions of dollars. They are immensely successful, and often more successful than they counterparts that did go to all the Ivy League schools and did everything “by the book”. So how can we be like these people if you have to be born with this skill? We can spend time with them and learn from them. So my advice is go to school. Do all the homework, read all the books, attend all the seminars, and listen to all the audiobooks in your car. But besides all this also have someone in your circle of friends and advisers many people consider to be “street smart”. Learn from these people, how they act, their intuition and judgment. See how they treat people when they walk into a room, and how people treat them. Learn from them because they are that rare gift that not everyone is blessed to be around.

There’s book smart, there is street smart, there’s relationship smart, there’s too many different kinds of smarts to know all of them. Everybody doesn’t know every kind of smart. There’s money smart, there’s movie smart, there’s computer smart. There are just too many different kinds of smarts for people to know all the smarts. J. B. Smoove

BONUS S: Superiority There are three marks  of a superior person: being virtuous, he is free from anxiety; being wise, he is free from perplexity; being brave , he is free from fear. Chinese Proverb

Sources 1) Best-Loved Chinese Proverbs by Theodora Lau and Kenneth and Laura Lau

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