Owning It Doesn’t Mean You Can Lead It

 In 1. David Scott Peters, Communication, Leadership
By David Scott Peters

LeadershipI recently talked to a franchise owner of a fast-food chain, and he asked me, “So, what do you think is a restaurant’s greatest challenge to being successful?”

I say the biggest challenge facing restaurant owners is a lack of LEADERSHIP!

Why leadership?

Through my years of experience, coaching calls, seminars, workshops, speeches, consulting, mastermind meetings, etc., I have worked with literally thousands of restaurant owners and it’s become a pattern I can’t ignore.

I came to this conclusion as I learned the following lessons first:

1) It’s less about implementing systems and more about changing your company culture

2) Core values must be put on paper and used as the guiding principles to run your business

3) There is no such thing as common sense; you must be specific and clear with everything you want done

Leadership killers to avoid

Look, just because you own a restaurant doesn’t make you a great leader. And while some people come to leadership naturally, I think it can be a learned skill. Following is a list of what I find to be the most common leadership killers I see in restaurants.

Lack of confidence

To lead you must be confident as a person. You must feel good about yourself. You need to feel like you are smart enough to figure things out, even if you don’t know how to do something. At the very least you need to understand that you have a God-given right to go bankrupt if you so choose; it’s your place and it’s your way. Heck, fake it until you make it and stand tall.

Lack of knowledge

To lead you need to grow and learn new ways of doing things. You need to seek out help when needed. You need to be voracious on your quest to continually learn.

Fear of making a decision

To lead you must be able to make decisions. It doesn’t mean you live in a vacuum and are a lone wolf. It means your restaurant is a democratic dictatorship. You will gather opinions and ideas for everyone and anyone, but you will ultimately do what you think needs to happen and be confident in that decision, even if it ends up being a bad one later on. You will make mistakes, but the benefits of good decisions far outweigh the bad ones.

Lack of passion

To lead, as Napoleon Hill says, author of the book, “Think and Grow Rich,” you must have a burning desire to be successful. A burning desire is that inner spark that takes an ordinary person and makes them extraordinary. It’s that inner drive that takes a college athlete and propels them to a professional career or an Olympian. Often sheer passion is enough to move your business forward because it’s infectious.



Lack of vision

To lead, you have to have a greater vision for what success looks like! Starting with a budget for financial goals, but also sharing your core values so that everyone on the team can not only make decisions that align, but see how each of their actions affects what you ultimately want to see your restaurant be in the future. Vision creates the destination where you are leading your people.

Poor communicator

To lead, first make sure you are clear on what you want done, how you want it done, how well you want it done and by when. When it comes to vision, budgets and customer service, make sure you document, document, document.

Lack of self-discipline

To lead, you have to not only stick to your guns, but you have to stick to them even — and especially —when the task is hard to do or uncomfortable. You must have the self-discipline to do them every day. You must be persistent that nothing and no one can stop you. A leader stays the course!


Just because you own a restaurant, doesn’t make you a great leader. A great leader does not have to be a born leader. A great leader can learn the skills to be great.

Look at yourself with a critical eye. After you assess where you fall, make the decision to improve. Your team and business are counting on you, and that’s what great leaders do.

David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, speaker, coach and trainer for independent restaurant owners. He is the developer of SMART Systems Pro, an online restaurant management software program helping the independent restaurant owner remain competitive and profitable in an industry boxed in by the big chain restaurants. He is best known as the SMART Systems guy who can walk into any restaurant and find $10,000 in undiscovered cash before he hits the back door… Guaranteed! Learn more at www.TheRestaurantExpert.com.

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