Gerald Ford, CMC, believes that club chefs have been groomed to problem solve and execute, which makes them uniquely positioned to lead clubs through the coronavirus crisis.
hat distinguishes a great leader is how she responds in times of crisis. Does she panic, seeing uncertainty ahead? Or does she see the bigger picture — the fact that more than money is at stake; that people must put themselves and their loved ones ahead of business needs?
As we find ourselves amid this global pandemic, March 2020 will forever remain in our minds as a where-were-you-when mile marker. Words and phrases once obscure are now commonplace. Terms like “self-quarantine” and “social distancing” are now everyday language.
The reality of what is going on outside can be frightening. We see people clearing the shelves of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and milk and bread. I see this as a clear sign that people need something tangible to make them feel comfortable in a time of absolute uncertainty. Impossibilities like state-wide school closures, parade cancellations, international and domestic travel bans have shaken all of us out of our usual comforts and routines.
The toilet paper has, in essence, become a placebo to satisfy a primal need for security.
I see this as a fantastic time to realize that we are more significant than our position or society. Above all, we are human. We are resilient and malleable. At this time, many club chefs I speak with are working through shut downs or new service models. For some, Easter is canceled. Further out, people are not sure what is to happen for Mother’s day.
The most responsible approach is in taking care of the health and well-being of our families, our teams, and those we serve. We all have “at-risk” people in our lives and in the muck and mire of this, innovation and adaptation will get us through.
As chefs and leaders, we must use our creative minds to seek out the solutions available. Focus on finding solutions that solve real problems. For example, many clubs have switched to non-contact delivery. Others are doing carry-out only. Still more are finding new ways to serve their members and take care of their employees by spreading out the labor to work in smaller groups to minimize exposure.
We are chefs. We are leaders. We are creators. If anyone can find a string of solutions to the myriad challenges that lay ahead, its us. It is our teams and the brilliant people we share our lives with who have them.
Our jobs have helped us develop a built-in ability to problem solve and execute. The COVID-19 crisis will eventually become something we integrate into who we are and how we operate. We will adapt, and we will find a new way. The discomfort will subside.
More than ever, what we all need now is humanity and the deep human traits that make us compassionate and understanding. We are all in it now, and the only way out is through. Protect what matters to you most. Share what you can and remember that we all share this planet.