Identifying and Developing Culinary Leaders

Leadership Theories

When I grow up I will be a chef. Confident male chef in uniform keeping arms crossed and smiling while group of people in different professions standing in the background

There are many theories of leadership:

  • The "great man" theory claims that leaders are born, not made.
  • By contrast, behavioral theory says that leadership skills can be learned.
  • Trait theory argues that leaders have a certain combination of natural, instinctive characteristics or traits.
  • Situational theories tell us that the different leadership styles each have appropriate uses in different situations.

I believe that leadership skills can be developed and learned, and I also believe that, in business, the right kind of leadership is most often "transformational leadership". A transformational leader is someone who can create an inspiring vision of the future, motivate people to achieve it, manage the implementation of that vision, and build a team capable of meeting the next challenge even more effectively.

A lot of this goes on within a potential culinary leader's mind, however, as someone seeking to nurture leaders, you can learn to recognize the traits shown by these people. By watching out for these traits, you can see that the person you're watching is thinking in the right way.

So, while almost every chef can develop leadership qualities, some may already be more advanced in their ability to do well in leadership roles. The observable behaviors listed below show this high potential. Look for these personal attributes in other Chefs and develop them in yourself.

happy leading,


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