From the Editor: Leading with Heart

Photo by Nick Wong

As we settle into a world that is still reeling from the repercussions of a lingering pandemic, we continue to adjust to seismic changes in our personal and professional lives.

While restaurant owners have been forced to pivot, employees have been forced to assume new roles and accept new realities while leaders have been forced to find creative ways to re-invent themselves while seeking out better ways to lead.

Empathy and compassion have risen to the top of the list as prime requisites for those directing the company’s fortunes and vision. And while the struggle has been arduous, ultimately, it’s making companies stronger, healthier and more well rounded.

Today, leadership is about having the capacity to recognize what the team needs in order to drive success while taking care of employees by treating them well, paying them what they deserve and more importantly taking care of their physical and mental well-being. That may be a tall order but it speaks to the importance of running a truly sustainable business. For too long, the word sustainable was used to primarily describe greening initiatives, but the word has now taken on broader connotations with growing discussion on what makes an operation truly sustainable. At the heart of it all, employee care has to come first because without them, there is no business.

While the pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health, it’s also been the necessary wake-up call to leaders to recognize the importance of mental health and wellness and to make it a top priority — both for new hires and existing employees. According to a national study by Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Canada (CPHR), “Future employees will likely seek out businesses that have put mental health at the forefront of their HR plans.” The results of the study show that employees are much more aware of mental wellness than they were before the pandemic hit,” says Anthony Ariganello, CEO of CPHR in a recent release. “This means it’s something that should be an important consideration for all managers and CEOs as well.”

If any good has come out of the pandemic, this new appreciation for the importance of mental health and well-being may just be it. It’s provided owners and management with a new dose of reality, while also helping to lessen the stigma of mental health. Ironically, for years owners and managers lead with profits in mind but now there’s a renewed sense of purpose on leading from the heart. This philosophy is taking root from the front of the house to the back of the house, where for too long temper tantrums and toxicity in the kitchen were the order of the day. Clearly, the foodservice and hospitality landscape is becoming a kinder and gentler place — it’s about time.

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