by Ray Colvin, Location Director and Management Program architect

Studies conducted in Sweden and France have shown evidence that this statement is true. Steven Reinberg, a reporter for HealthDay, in his article Bad Bosses Are Hard on the Heart quotes Anna Nyberg of the Karolinska Institute, and Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University regarding a study involving 3,100 Swedish workers, “This study is the first to provide evidence of a prospective, dose-response relationship between concrete managerial behaviors and objectively assessed heart disease among employees…Enhancing managers’ skills — regarding providing employees with information, support, power in relation to responsibilities, clarity in expectations, and feedback — could have important stress-reducing effects on employees and enhance the health at workplaces.”

The study found a strong correlation between good bosses and good health. “Nyberg’s group found that the more competent the men thought their bosses were, the lower their risk of developing heart disease. In contrast, the poorer men rated their boss’s leadership ability, the higher the risk for heart disease. In fact, the risk increased the longer someone worked in the same stressful environment.”

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Treat people with care and respect…maybe treat them how we would like to be treated…train them effectively, support them in their efforts by giving them the tools they need and the environment where they can feel appreciated and safe, and company success will follow.

Leadership is a consistent topic in the Business Management programs I have helped develop at OCI. Leadership skills are the basis for success in any organization, even more so in restaurants and hotels where employees are the frontline of interaction with the customer. To the customer, the company is the employee. After all, it takes a lot of people to get a plate of food in front of a guest.

I am constantly reminded, when discussing with students and associates their experiences with leadership in the workplace, how much influence bosses have on the personal lives of their employees. Sadly, more often than not, the experiences are not good. Almost everyone has numerous examples of experiences with bosses who are ill-prepared to lead, arrogant, or indifferent in their attitudes toward others, and incompetent and abusive by nature. What is it about our culture that embraces such people and defines them as leaders? Seemingly, this type of leader is everywhere. If every boss in America would take responsibility for the lives of their employees as they come under their influence and treat them with courtesy, decency, and respect I wonder what impact it would have on our economy, our culture, and the cost of our health care.

In our Business Management classes at OCI, we teach many principles in leadership. They follow simple and basic practices:

1. Communicate effectively – what are we doing, why are we doing it, who needs to know, what do they need to know, when do they need to know it, and what is in it for them?

2. Let others lead – if you want to be effective you need to hire competent people. Competent people want to lead, too…let them be leaders.

OCI Executive Chef Brian Wilke

3. Give credit where credit is due – don’t steal other people’s work and represent it as your own. Often this is done by omission. If I don’t give you credit, then by default credit falls to me because I am in the position of authority. So I can say I haven’t stolen your work, but in truth I have done it in a very destructive way.

4. Hire right…then train right – if you want to build a solid team, you have to focus on character and integrity during the hiring process. Then you need to front load your effort in people in the first few weeks with a comprehensive and effective training program that is administered by the management team, as well as the staff.

OCI President Eric Stromquist

5. Knowledge is power – but only if it is freely shared. People who withhold knowledge to build their power base are, in the long run, destructive. The organizational knowledge, that knowledge that is the collective experience and expertise of everyone in the organization, is the most important asset in any organization. Great organizations realize this and share knowledge everywhere throughout the organization.

6. Be a decent human being – leadership should provide discipline and organization. Every great organization whether it is a football team, a choir or a culinary school embraces discipline and organization. We call it Mise en Place. However, discipline and organization don’t need to be delivered with a whip. Whether you are a bully on the playground or a bully in the corporate boardroom, you are still a bully.

Ray Colvin, Article Author (see above)

We hope our graduates aspire to be leaders in the organizations they will join. We hope even more that they become leaders we can be proud of by representing these simple truths in leadership.