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Unleashing the Power of Purpose: Hospitality Leadership Lessons from The Bear

Life in the restaurant industry embodies controlled chaos. In such a fast-paced environment, unpredictable events—a spill in the walk-in, an unexpected rush, a broken appliance—can and often do occur. And yet there’s a beautiful choreography, behind each step in the kitchen and every dish served, that maintains a restaurant’s flow.

Top-performing hospitality managers think beyond processes. They craft seamless experiences that guarantee customer satisfaction by unlocking employee purpose.

If you’re one of the many people watching FX’s The Bear—an Emmy Award-winning series that follows a Chicago restaurant team—you’ve seen the role of great leaders in building up employees. Even if you haven’t, the hospitality leadership lessons we learned from binging the series can help you breathe new life into your operations. Here are three essential lessons from The Bear to help you optimize your management team and spark engagement, intention, and pride across your workforce.

1. For employees, a sense of purpose is a suit of armor.


“Forks,” widely hailed as the best TV episode of 2023, follows the journey of Richie, an undisciplined employee, after his boss pulls some strings for him to stage at a high-end restaurant. He initially dismisses the task of polishing forks—but soon, he discovers how every process comes together to create magical guest experiences. Richie finds purpose in delighting customers, and his work ethic grows as a result.

This employee transformation can happen in your own establishment. Great managers can unleash passion and excellence by recognizing employee strengths, communicating how each FOH or BOH staff member’s skills uniquely contribute to the bigger picture. As people feel valued and understand their place, they’ll be motivated to hone their craft—even on the toughest days.

2. Elevating loyalty starts with investing in workers.


How can restaurant and hospitality leaders increase retention? Helping employees discover their purpose is the first step—but investing in their newfound passion is the next. According to SHRM, 90% of restaurant managers begin in entry-level positions, and proper training is key to ensuring successful promotions rather than attrition.

The Bear shows the power of professional development. When Tina, a long-time employee, is tapped to become a sous chef, she is granted the opportunity to attend culinary school. Her gratitude is clear. As her confidence in herself and Carmy (the new restaurant owner) grows, she becomes a hard-working leader—not the stubborn employee she once was.

Effective hospitality leaders similarly push employees in the right direction. They collaborate with workers to craft career paths and provide the right opportunities and challenges. They also prioritize recognition to encourage employees along their journey.

3. Engaged employees make every second count.


If dawdling workers are leading to bad Yelp reviews or disrupting your operational flow, they probably feel disconnected from your goals. Employees need more than a personal sense of purpose; they need to understand why your business is where they belong.

Throughout The Bear, the team—previously floundering under old management—grows increasingly engaged as they gain vested interest in the restaurant’s vision. Under Carmy’s leadership, each employee gains opportunities to contribute recipes, solutions, and ideas and roots for shared success. Marcus (pictured above) is rewarded for his passion for quality pastries with an internship in Denmark, growing his career and the restaurant’s prestige.

Great hospitality managers inspire workers by not only communicating a clear vision but also including employees in their path to achieving it.

Find Hospitality Leaders Who Make the Difference

The success of your hospitality business hinges upon the engagement of your workforce. When employees feel connected to your vision and their greater purpose, they become motivated contributors who create outstanding guest experiences.

Great hospitality managers are the team-builders you need. At Gecko Hospitality, our nationwide network of recruiters can connect you to high-performing leaders who can transform your operations—focusing on your people first.

Hire hospitality managers who inspire your team. Reach out to your local recruiter today.




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