I was watching the news this morning and they were interviewing a Chef named Ford Fry. Gotta love the name, right? I had never heard of him till today, but in culinary circles he is the man. He is originally from Houston and has opened some of the top rated restaurants in America: The Optimist, King and Duke, and he recently opened State of Grace. He is opening 5 more restaurants within the coming year.
These are five star restaurants with a twist. The food of course, is outstanding, but the culture he has established is unlike anything I have seen in years. Perhaps there are others like this, but I have not heard of them if they exist. Here is what sets his restaurant chain apart:
- He is doing what he truly loves. He loves cooking, creating, serving, and leading. This may not be the most unique thing in the list, but it is foundational to the rest that follows. It helps if the guy at the top loves his job. His passion becomes believable and something that people are going to follow. They want to be a part of it.
- He loves setting the vision for his company. He truly loves and empowers his people. In his words: “When they own it and love it, it is great!” Many companies give lip service to empowering their people, but Chef Fry gets it. He practices what he preaches. He understands the difference between managing people and leading them. He also realizes that his vision is what people will rise or fall on.
- Treat people like people, not tools. This one hit me between the eyes. Treat people like people…like family. Get to know them personally. Wow. How simple this would be to do in companies, and yet how few realize the power of building a family culture. Show you care about your employees and you will have no problem attracting the top talent in the country to work with you. He cares about all of his employees from the busboy up to the manager of the restaurant.
Leadership is really not as complicated as some people make it to be. Love what you do. Love, serve, and empower your people, and cast the vision for them to follow. You can add other things to this list but these are the basics that every transformational leader embraces.
I hope that if you lead a company or a team of people you will do these simple things. People will respond favorably to a leader who understands and practices servant leadership. The culture he will build will be hard to compete against and will withstand the ups and downs of the economy.
P.S. Chef Fry, if you happen to read this, I want to invite you to open a restaurant in the Dallas area. I know you would be well received here.