Redefining leadership in hospitality

Six chefs speak about the need for leadership in hospitality to change and what we can do to move things forward: 

Change the way you run your business

“As chefs we are trained to be good at cooking, at doing long hours, at repetition - and we get really good at those things. But at a certain stage in your career, you gain much more responsibility and decision-making power. Then all of a sudden you’re supposed to understand cash flow management and forecasting, you need to be a whiz with spreadsheets while also managing people and the wider business. This is why leadership training is so important.”

Leadership has a domino effect - both good and bad

“When someone brings bad energy into an environment that is already very stressful, this has a domino effect. It impacts everybody - and yes, your service may be getting executed and your guests may be getting good food, but your team will walk out happy that the shift is over and not looking forward to tomorrow. This way of doing things is simply not sustainable.”

We need to teach people how to lead for the future, so they don’t repeat the past

“It’s very easy to fall into bad leadership habits. We’ve all done it, including myself. Luckily for me I had a colleague who pulled me aside and pointed out how my behaviour was impacting others around me. Whilst at the time I was mortified, I was lucky enough to be able to recognise this which inspired me to change for the better.  

“Leaders set the tone for the business and kitchen they’re running. It’s important we lead from the front. This means taking time to reflect on how we were treated as we grew as chefs and thinking about the culture we want to build to move the industry forward.”


Mutual trust and respect are key to good leadership

(Quote from The Caterer’s recent article investigating how we can put a stop to harassment and bullying in hospitality)

“[Having proper induction processes and guidelines in place] helps to enhance the respect between team members and also between management and the rest of the staff.”

Khan has a zero tolerance of abuse, which is expressed clearly to new recruits. 

"On the rare occasion where there have been issues, we have given an opportunity for that person to explain what happened, and if change or remorse is not seen we will not keep that person on."

We are all leaders

(Quote from Reem Assil’s thought-provoking article for Eater.)

“I no longer feel lonely and isolated in this challenging era for restaurants because I struggle with my team rather than on behalf of my team. By ridding myself of the burden of being “the chef,” I have built up my emotional reserves to be more patient, and to take a coaching role in building up leaders around me.”


Younger chefs can grow their leadership skills by connecting with mentors

“Through the years I’ve learned that if I want to excel at being a certain type of chef I need to find mentors that have already excelled, or are currently excelling, within that particular area. They don’t all need to be from inside the industry; I have mentors outside of food and beverage that have given me hugely valuable insights. I’ve got about seven mentors at the moment, all in varying fields. I went from being the young chef to executive chef and I got there thanks to this type of mentorship.” 



We all have a role to play in changing leadership for the better and improving kitchen culture. You can be part of the change with our free leadership training, which features honest reflections, lessons and advice from more than 30 chefs and experts across the globe. 

Sign up now and develop the skills you need to successfully manage a Fair Kitchen, creating an open, inclusive and fair environment in which your team can thrive.