Ivo Nedelchev, Director of Food & Beverage/Sommelier with Hamilton Harbor Yacht Club, encourages developing leadership qualities in team members even if they are not in leadership positions.
I had already held a leadership position for years before I started really digging into it. It was fascinating for me to lead a team and make a difference. To have people call me years later to thank me for everything I gave them in life is everything that matters to me.
Every time I read about hospitality or leadership, I learn more about the “why” behind many of the things I have always been inclined to do. Leading people is simple. Qualities like honesty, hard work, self-awareness, humility, approachability are characteristics of a good leader. I was a leader without even realizing what it truly meant and stood for. I was the “soccer coach” I always dreamed of becoming. And my purpose in life became to help others find their calling and create the best version of themselves. That’s what leadership is all about.
Imagine you are in a pick-up soccer game with your friends. You have two captains, and they start picking the teams. Have you ever been the first pick? Do you want to be the first pick? How do you get to be the first pick?
Irvin Johnson received his “Magic” nickname after he made his teammates better players. I am sure he got many phone calls from people grateful for his leadership. As a leader, we must be willing to place the needs of others above our own. We must ensure that our people are inspired and motivated every day to make a difference and “win the game.”
To succeed in life, you need to find something to hold on to, something that motivates you, something that inspires you to be the best version of yourself. Find this something and make it a lifelong learning journey. (If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.)
Building relationships on trust and respect is the start for growing your people. Respect is the glue that holds teams and organizations together. When there is a high level of trust and respect in any environment, loyalty is extremely high, and employees become very confident because people are treated with courtesy and kindness.
As a leader, you have the incredible opportunity to change someone’s life every single day. It could be something as simple as saying hello, writing a handwritten note stating you did an excellent job today or remembering your employee’s names when you greet them, genuinely listening when engaging in a conversation, remembering birthdays, or asking your employees how’s their mom or dad or husband or wife is doing. When you show your employees the simplest of gratitude and genuinely make your employee’s families part of the company, you will have some of the most loyal employees.
People who feel appreciated will always do more than expected because appreciation is one of the biggest motivators. When we take the time to let them know that we value them, it inspires them to continue doing even more and reinforces the habit for other people to do the same. As a leader, you don’t inspire your team by showing them how amazing you are. You inspire them by showing them how amazing they are.
Handwrite a letter and send it to employee’s parents and let them know what an amazing person they have raised. Just imagine you reading one of these letters for your child. Just do it and see how you have changed someone’s life in seconds.
Some leaders take these things for granted but believe me your employees will feel truly valued. Leadership is all about people, the little things make a huge difference, and the organizations that get it are the ones that ultimately succeed.
Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could. The most powerful word that you can hear from anyone is “I believe in you.”
Use those words daily.
Empower your team members. Give the idea and let the team come up with the plan. Even when the plan is not the best but is still good enough let it go this time. At the end of the road, you will have a team that will go to war for you. No one can build and sustain a great company if no trust exists. It makes no sense to recruit the best people and ty their hands by not giving them the freedom to perform. Great leaders know that the soul of their business is their team, and they must allow and trust their team to produce their very best work. That’s why you recruited them in the first place. Give your team the space to work. Create an environment free from the impediments of toxicity and witness a significant growth of your organization but, more importantly, in your team.
In order to achieve greatness in your team, you must create a culture of optimism. There will be many ups and downs, but the prevalence of positivity will keep the people growing. But be warned: This requires fearlessness. You must truly believe in making the impossible possible.
In many instances, we find ourselves in negative situations and it becomes very easy to adopt a negative mindset. It is tough, I know, but that’s what being a leader is all about. To make your team believe that everything will be okay, which is why being positive in a negative situation is not naive: its leadership.
Each team member brings something unique to the table, so it is essential to treat each role as a critical arm of your business. Each team member should feel like their job matters, without ever asking themselves, “Why am I even here?”
All great leaders know exactly how to activate the talent that surrounds them. Get to know your people and what inspires and motivates them. This way you can easily work on growing their talent by challenging their potential. Give them a project that will stimulate their creative side if they are the creative type. Or simply connect the project to some of their hobbies. Then sit back and enjoy the show.
Build leadership qualities in your team members even if they are not in leadership positions. Everyone can lead if people are following. Your top servers are leaders, your lead hostess is a leader, too. Let them know it. Encourage them to see the difference they make in other’s lives.
Make work fun. Think outside of the box and create an environment that people really enjoy being a part of. You don’t have to have an employee bar or a ping pong table. Have a simple challenge game like a brain teaser or provide something interesting to learn every day that people look forward to. Have a surprise, put a smile on their faces. You don’t have to bring an ice-cream truck for that. Send a group message at the end of the night for the beautiful day you had as a team. Build the urge for the satisfaction of the job well done as the greatest pursuit of happiness. Be genuine, be simple, be honest and challenge people’s greatness all the time.
The ability to learn is one of the most important qualities a leader can have. Successful leaders never stop learning and they never stop teaching. Whether they read books, learn new skills, study academic or business journals, learn from their employees or peers, or strive for change through innovation, they all share a passion for wanting to learn new skills and ideas. That passion is so contagious it makes everyone around try to keep up. Share an article about things that you are passionate about with your team and discuss at staff meetings. Help people find what they are passionate about and let them talk about it. A simple book club with your team can create a miracle as it can open many doors and ways to stimulate the human mind. Keep reading is the simplest and best advice that I will give you.
Life itself is one long learning experience, and the modern business world is evolving and changing at a breakneck pace. Make your team understand that very clearly. Change is driven through innovation, sound business strategy, and creativity. Organizations that stand still and don’t embrace change run the risk of being overtaken either by a competitor or someone who embraces continuous self-development.
Remember every day that leadership is all about people, inspiring people to believe that the impossible is possible, developing and building people to perform at heights they never imagine, and it’s all about inspiring your team to become the very best version of themselves. When you understand that, your club will become one of the best in the world. But most importantly, measure success by the way you touch the lives of the people around you.
Every person has something that they are great at. By finding this something and working hard on it will make the difference if they succeed in life or not.
I never competed with anyone else but myself. People always competed with me. This is when I noticed the first signs that I could lead because people wanted to follow me. They wanted to be like me. Still, I had no idea what leadership meant and was at that point. All I was doing was working hard and absorbing every piece of information possible. This is how it all started—and how I found myself through leadership.