By Martin Probst, Learning & Development Whiz
To often throughout the career, I’ve heard comments like: “Are you tough enough for this job?” “If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen”, “Treat them mean to keep them keen” and many more…
In my opinion, these kitchen cowboys do not deserve or even qualify to be called chef as they haven’t mastered nor demonstrated any leadership skills yet. They haven’t grasped the concept of ‘teamness’ and are only interested in pleasing their own ego and are purely interested in their own benefits, rather then the holistic outcome of the kitchen department and not to mention the overall business success.
As a chef, you need to understand that the hard skills (Technical skills to complete a specific task) you’ve learned in your apprenticeship and in the workplace become less important as you move up the career ladder and closer to the chefs office.
The key of a successful Executive chef lies in his ability and attitude to demonstrate those soft skills, the personal attributes to interact effectively and harmoniously with others.
I personally don’t even understand why those skills are called ‘soft’. These skills should be labeled universal to complement industry-specific skills and must be given importance, as they are the glue that holds the technical processes together.
I believe the SOFT skills are in fact the HARDest to master and most beneficial to achieve ‘HARD edge results’!
YES, soft skills are generally undervalued and ripped out of hospitality training packages (incl. commercial cookery) around the world. Labelling essential skills such as leadership, time and stress management, communication strategies, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, resolving conflicts and many more as ‘soft’, whether we like it or not, lessens their value.
I appreciate that really good cooks feel frustrated when they discover that in order to become a true leader in the kitchen, building relationships and master communication skills are more important than hard skills.
Technical skills may get you the job, but soft skills will make or break you as a leader.
So if you are serious about your career success, I urge you to have an open mind for these soft / universal skills. Adapt and implement them along the way…
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