I really love restaurants – I mean really love them. I recently told someone when I was standing in line for a taxi at the New York Airport, that I could easily enjoy eating my way through a town when I travel. I don’t love eating a ton of food, but I love local restaurants and seeing places that I have never been before. I think it is great to be able to walk into a place that you can see no where else in the world and get some great food and some local flavor.
I also know where I want to eat when I come to a town. For instance, when you do come to Central Florida, you should definitely eat at Charley’s Steakhouse, and when in Birmingham, AL you need to take a stop at O’Carrs for some incredible Chicken Salad. I also love to be in Atlanta and take a stop by the original Chick-fil-A in Hapeville, or stopping at the Carnegie Deli in New York City.
I think that the thing is that a lot of what makes a local restaurant so good actually has a lot of lessons that we can learn about leadership and running a great organization. I know that it may seem a bit off, but I can explain:
To be a great restaurant you have to be consistent. When people walk in you want to know what they can expect. If you come in one visit and get a great, perfectly cooked steak, you will expect that next time. A leader needs the same trait – you have to be consistent. Have you ever worked for a leader who was unpredictable and non-consistant? Being inconsistent makes people not approach you because they have no clue how they will react. Every day you will have to make new decisions and go new directions, but you can have a consistent reaction, a consistent belief, and a consistent style of leadership.
2. A Unique Flavor
A great local restaurant must have a unique flavor. If you can get the same taste at a major chain for a better price, why wouldn’t you? The thing is there is something at the local spot that you can not get anywhere else. I think that a leader needs this too. A great leader needs to find their ‘nitch. What are you bringing to the table that only you can bring? Isn’t this why people are following you ?
3. Worth the Drive
Lastly, a thing about a local dive is that the ones that tend to stay around forever are not necessarily the most easiest places to find. In fact I can think of many places that I have been to that I have driven for miles on backstreets or searched for a parking place in an over-crowded parking spot. I think that there is something about a local place that makes it okay for people to stand in a line, not find a close parking spot, or even drive 30 minutes out of the way. I am not thinking that leaders need to make themselves hard to find, but I do think that you have to bring something to the table that makes people seek it out. What is is that you bring? Why would people want to serve with you on a team? I think we are quick to ask what we can get, but I think we have to ask as leaders: what are we offering to those who are following?
Again, it may be a stretch for you, but I would encourage you to find lessons in the things you love. Where have you learned some leadership lessons recently?