Chef Leaders, Managers and Bosses

Leader is not a term we think of often in the workplace. It’s usually, take me to your manager or boss. So what is the difference, or is there one? Lastly, where do Chefs fall into this picture.

Leaders create a vision, managers create goals.

They paint a picture of what they see as possible and inspire and engage their people in turning that vision into reality. They think beyond what individuals do. They activate people to be part of something bigger. They know that high-functioning teams can accomplish a lot more working together than individuals working autonomously. Managers focus on setting, measuring and achieving goals. They control situations to reach or exceed their objectives.

Leaders take risks, managers control risk .

Leaders are willing to try new things even if they may fail miserably. They know that failure is often a step on the path to success. Managers work to minimize risk. They seek to avoid or control problems rather than embracing them.

 Leaders are in it for the long haul, managers think short-term.

They have intentionality. They do what they say they are going to do and stay motivated toward a big, often very distant goal. They remain motivated without receiving regular rewards. Managers work on shorter-term goals, seeking more regular acknowledgment or accolades.

Swedish Chef


When things get tough, morale in the kitchen may start to fade. As that happens, it’s up to the executive chef to lead by example. A bored, out-of-touch leader will only inspire boredom in his or her workers. However, when cooks see real passion for the work from their leader, they’ll be inspired to succeed. Work It Daily suggested that passion is contagious. For executive chefs, that means leaving personal problems at home and coming to work prepared to do the best job possible. An excellent thread that fits in nicely here;

Leaders need to listen to their workers just as often as they speak to them. Brent Gleeson, a former Navy SEAL and motivational speaker, writing for Forbes Magazine, explained that leaders need to think about the questions they ask their workers. If, for instance, an executive chef implements a new routine for food prep, he or she should look for feedback from the other cooks and chefs to fully understand if the intended goals are being achieved. Setting aside time to ask questions and thoughtfully listen to the answers is the sign of a great leader. The Reluctant Chef reported that many executive chefs have a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts, in addition to years of experience in restaurant kitchens. Some chefs even acquire master’s degrees in specific disciplines. But that doesn’t mean chefs can stop learning. They should strive to keep up with the latest trends in cuisine, restaurant management and kitchen safety. By constantly striving to become better, executive chefs are guaranteed to stay at the top of their game.


How about a couple of acronyms? JOB= JACK ASS OF BOSS. Kind of harsh, but a reality a lot of the time. SO, a new one for BOSS= Built on Self Success! That sound better, self accountability. So be a chef BOSS, OR BOSS Chef if you prefer. Cheers, and have a wonderful day!