Ingredients for successful leadership

2021 was a year that put leadership front and center. It offered a chance for leaders to reflect on the way they worked with their teams and consider new ways of working. It also reinforced the importance of connection and open communication as ingredients for successful teams.

As we enter a new year, it’s important we use these lessons to consider the future of hospitality leadership. What skills are required and what could be done differently? We spoke to six chefs about how they plan to lead in 2022.

Treat people fairly

"Last year kicked hospitality’s ass - but sometimes you need that. Hospitality workers have woken up to their self worth, and restaurants now realize their employees have the option to go elsewhere. 

“To reduce staff turnover, offer competitive salaries and treat people fairly. Get to know everyone, their backgrounds, their troubles, anything that might affect their performance. And have fun! In my case we joke, crank music, sing, dance.

"Finally, challenge people. Put them in a new section, give them a project, feed that natural curiosity."

Alejandro Castro
Head Chef at OSH Dubai

Keep the same determination and tenacity

"When I think about 2021 there’s one word that comes to mind – resilience. Despite the hardships and challenges, we always come out on the other side.

“Remember the lessons you have learned. You are strong. You are surrounded by people that care. Keep showing the same resilience, compassion and determination.” 

Chef Candice Adams
Academic Operations Manager at Capsicum Culinary Studio


Speed up the pace of change

"I want to see the positive changes of 2021 go further and faster this year. Fair treatment of hospitality staff, calling out of bullying and abusive behaviour, more respect for all those amazing hard workers in our bars and restaurants, cafes and canteens. And with all that, ultimately, better working conditions."

Chef Dave Critchley
Exec Head Chef Director at Lu Ban

Lead with compassion

"I treat my team members as individuals. That way I’m able to create meaningful relationships with each person and give them the support they need, no matter the situation.

"This year, I hope to create an environment that allows all my chefs to see beyond their yesterday and today. This year I hope we share tears of joy, of hope, and of love. I know there will be sadness too, but mostly an environment abounding in love and compassion is the goal."

Ithabeleng Baloyi
Executive Head Chef at Protea Hotel by Marriott Kruger Gate

Leading is about coaching people 

“The workplace has become more of an entrepreneurial space where you make decisions according to what is happening right now. To stay relevant you need to allow your people to be creative and let that spirit of innovation come through.

“Let your people lead without titles. Let them make decisions. Guide them, act as their coach instead of micro-managing. Promote everyone’s talents and bring them to the fore. Self-development is key.” 

Chef James Khoza
President of The South African Chefs Association and Executive Chef at Sandton Sun Hotel

Being positive in yourself means you can be positive for your team

“Good leadership is a case of hope and driving positivity. Taking five minutes a day to sit with each member of your team individually, even once a week, to show them that you have hope for them and you do care for them is very powerful. It’s amazing the change this can have on a person, to know that someone believes in you.” 

Chef Jodi Gillespie
Executive Chef at The Pencil Club



It's time to do things differently and build a better future for hospitality. This starts with leaders that inspire and influence positive change. 

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