Too few cooks in the kitchen?

Posted 12.14.2007

Too many cooks in the kitchen may not be such a bad thing, after all. Take the case of Michel Richard, founding chef and owner of 5-star rated Citronelle in Washington, D.C.

Michel Richard

The other day, The Washington Post ran a story in its Food section about Richard and his plans to open two new restaurants on the West Coast. His story struck me as a good lesson for executive leaders learning to pick up team reliance and to let go of self-reliance — two key points outlined in The Next Level

One of the biggest reasons that many new executives burn out within 18 months is an inability to delegate properly — understandably it’s hard to replace “me” with “we,” especially at the beginning. But it looks as if Richard has absorbed a maxim for staying at the top: You’re only as good as your team. “I don’t run as fast,” says Richard. “But I can use my brain and ask chefs to use what I know.” Rather than spread himself too thin with constant travel, he has tapped a fellow chef to oversee the new restaurants and train the cooks. Here’s the money quote:

Today, he [Richard] is able to take advantage of diners’ growing acceptance that  the master chef isn’t always in the kitchen, and to put into practice something that  chefs have known for years: “You have to be able to leave your restaurant and  have it be just as good as it is when you’re there …”

So, what’s keeping you from the next level of success? Take a lesson from Michel Richard and ask yourself what you can to rely more fully on your team.