Great Leaders Aren't Afraid to Get Their Hands Dirty

Posted on August 29, 2018

By Chef Johnny Carino 

Johnny Carino

People first. This is a motto businesses should live by every single day. But not all organizations do just that. Businesses are in a constant battle to hit financial goals and this oftentimes takes attention away from the people who enable the company to achieve their goals. Great leaders make it a priority to focus on employees first. There are endless avenues for achieving success within a company, but they all come down to strong leaders. To truly find success within an organization, it is vital to have leaders who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, challenge their team, and build a positive environment that empowers individuals to make a difference and step up to take care of each other.

Lead by Example

The difference between a good leader and a great leader comes down to their ability to lead by example. Leaders shouldn’t find themselves behind a desk all day; they should be with their team, supporting them in their daily tasks. Leaders should not be above getting their hands dirty. In the kitchen especially, it can be a struggle to keep up with the demands of a busy night: dishes start piling up and chefs are slammed with orders, but this is an opportunity for leaders to pick up the slack, to stand shoulder to shoulder with the team, and help them scrub dishes and get the work done. This generates a strong work ethic, something the team will respect and that will establish a standard going forward. Employees deserve this kind of commitment from their leaders.

Challenge the Team to be Creative

In today’s world, it is common for individuals to switch jobs frequently. Why is that? It’s most often because they get bored with their work and want another challenge. As leaders, it’s important to keep team members motivated and excited to come to their job every day. In the kitchen, chefs can often become tired of making the same items, using prepackaged food, and being stuck in the monotony of the menus. A great way to remove the mundane, almost systematic process, is to challenge the team to use fresh food, remove the prepackaged items, and begin creating dishes that will blow away guests and keep the team actively engaged. This not only generates daily challenges, but it also let’s the team express their creativity. These challenges do wonders for retaining individuals and helping them develop their skills for continued growth.

Allow Yourself to be Vulnerable

Leaders sometimes feel like they need to know all the answers, but the truth is they don’t. To relate to the team, it is good to humanize yourself and be able to laugh when the situation doesn’t go as planned. This is what writer Brené Brown termed as “daring greatly.” It’s a key aspect to creating an environment where the team feels like they can relate to the leader on a personal level. It shows that everyone makes mistakes, but together the team can continue to run efficiently because they all support one another. At the end of the day, leaders should be able to take a vacation and know that their team will be well equipped to step up and take care of the responsibilities and the tasks at hand while they are away. Not only does this create a positive culture, but also secures a vision that everyone will want to follow.

A leader who encompasses these traits puts their people first. Creating this type of dynamic, and masterfully working together to achieve a common goal will equal success. A leader doesn’t sit behind their computer barking orders, but rather, a true leader gets out there, stands with their team, and gets their hands dirty. Having this hands-on approach will enable leaders to best support the needs of their team as well as the needs of the company.

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Johnny Carino joined HHS as Vice President of Senior Living in 2018, bringing decades of experience as a corporate chef, vice president of operations, and an entrepreneur in the culinary world. Beyond building his namesake restaurant concept, Johnny Carino's, he has worked all over the world opening over 100 restaurants and developing 16 new culinary concepts. He has hosted a cooking show on PBS called "Break Me Off a Piece of That" where he focused on sharing family-centered Sicilian recipes. Carino comes to HHS with a desire to initiate a revolutionary change in dining services for seniors and is thrilled to spend his career creating nutritious food that helps others live happier and healthier lives.