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The Responsibility of Leadership

This week, we dig into some of the thoughtful insights about leadership from Will Guidara's book "Unreasonable Hospitality."
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The Responsibility of Leadership

Will Guidara underlines in his book “Unreasonable Hospitality” a relentless pursuit of excellence that includes a deep understanding of leading his crew with compassion and grace.

In our readings this week, there were so many insightful quotes about leadership, partnership, and team-building that we decided to go through and snack on some of those morsels one by one.

Will recounts in the book a formative moment in his early career when he was publicly berated by a head chef and the lasting negative impression that it left. It highlights the profound influence leaders have over their team's morale and self-esteem. That’s why he reminds us to:

“Never forget how much impact – for good or for bad – a gesture by a leader can have.”

Guidara also champions the indispensable practice of active listening, advising:

“You’re not always going to agree with everything you hear, but you’ve got to start by listening.”

In a dealership, where every team member—from sales to service—plays a crucial role, this principle highlights the value of open dialogue and mutual respect. By genuinely listening to your team, you create a foundation of trust and collaboration, essential for navigating challenges and opportunities.

Guidara also emphasizes the leader’s role in ensuring their team has everything they need to thrive, stating:

“Make sure people who are trying and working hard have what they need to succeed.”

This means not only providing the necessary tools and resources but also offering guidance, training, and support to help each team member reach their full potential.

And speaking of full potential, the next two quotes are all about offering frequent compliments and constructive criticism in order to get the very best out of your team:

“Criticize the behavior, not the person. Praise in public; criticize in private. Praise with emotion, criticize without emotion.”

“Whether criticism or praise, it’s a leader’s job to give their team feedback all the time. But every person on the team should be hearing more about what they did well than what they could do better, or they’re going to feel deflated and unmotivated. And if you can’t find more compliments to deliver than criticism, that’s a failure in leadership.”

A regular cadence of praise ensures team members feel valued and motivated, and a feedback-rich environment encourages continual motivation and engagement.

Guidara also notes the importance of predictable and reliable leadership in building trust and setting clear expectations:

“Consistency is one of the most important and underrated aspects of being a leader.”

This means being a steady presence that guides the team through ups and downs, ensuring everyone knows what to expect and feels secure in their roles.

Being a thoughtful, considerate, and consistent leader does not mean that you will be an infallible leader. 

In an industry where the fast pace and high stakes can sometimes lead to errors, owning up to these mistakes and apologizing sincerely demonstrates accountability and integrity, strengthening the team's respect and loyalty.

No one is perfect, and we all stumble from time to time. That’s why Will reminds us of one of the most important pieces of advice (pretty much for life in general):

“You’re going to mess up. When you do, apologize.”

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