Good teamwork starts with good leadership

Leaders wear many hats, balancing the needs of customers, staff, food, finances and more every day. Although being a good leader takes effort, it doesn't need to be complicated. We asked members of the #FairKitchens community to share the small things they do that make a big difference to their team.

Stay grounded

For Chef Greg Stockdale, leading by example is key to building a great team.

"Lead by example to build people up. At all levels. If you're training up your dishwasher, encourage them to do prep with you. Then, at the end of the day if there's a mountain of dishes, jump in and be like 'let me help, let's get this done quicker'. It's a great opportunity to connect."


Encourage open communication 

Shane Cooke of Jasper Wellbeing LTD has been a Chef for more than 20-years and is now on a path to share advice on wellbeing and resilience in the kitchen.

"As leaders in the kitchen we only show a bit of ourselves and often it’s the human, emotional self that we hide. Leaders need to show that they’re not robots either, they’re human and make mistakes too. That lowers the waterline and makes it easier to start talking. As leaders in the kitchen we need to show some vulnerability."


Establish clear boundaries

Chef Dina Altieri, Director of Culinary Enterprises, has dedicated her career to educating the next generation of chefs. It's in her latest role at UMOM New Day Centers where she learned the industry's power to change lives.

"It starts with empathy. You can tell right away if somebody’s having a bad day, so where do you make the place for that discussion? Ideally I don't want someone to punch in and spend an hour talking to me about all the things that are going on in their life, but we can carve out the time to talk about how I can help them when they're on a break.

"As Chef-Educators, it's also important to show that boundary. People respond well to it. They know you're providing the space to talk about challenges, but that that space isn't eight hours through the day."

Take the time to really get to know your staff beyond their kitchen skills

For Twan Hakvoort, owner of ‘t Voorhuys in Emmeloord, being a good leader means making time to speak to his staff about how they are.

"At 't Voorhuys we work towards making it a purpose of life. It isn't about us, but about the people that work here. Young people in particular cannot see the long term, they worry about the future and some have psychological problems. Every other day I make time to chat with them to hear how they're doing.'’


Give clear and constructive feedback

Chef Bobby Kapoor, Chef Partner at Classic Catering in the UAE, which specialises in gourmet support to restaurants and cafes and corporate meals to retail ready products. 

"Investing in training, putting staff health and wellness at the fore and encouraging a work-life balance is the reason we stay ahead of the game. A team nurtured by a culture of honest feedback and collaboration will work with you, and not for you."


Investing in your team is investing in your business

Chef Amanda Fuller, Group Executive Chef of Sam Prince Hospitality Group.

‘’We have people that are happy in the business and we invest in them emotionally, financially and the return is so much better. The team is also happier as they’re not constantly seeing new faces which can cause unease.

"Promoting from within is a company policy but it’s a personal policy of mine as well. I think that if team members can see that someone is doing an exceptional job, I'm acknowledging that and they're succeeding in getting promoted, I think it shows something that people can aspire to.”