How To Balance Skills Between the First and Second in Command in Your Restaurant

The relationship between the first in command and the second in command is the most important relationship in your company.

Leadership gives birth to breakthroughs.

When I’ve worked with clients where that relationship was in shambles, guess what we did first?

We corrected it; if we hadn’t, there would have been no path to success.

The best restaurateurs spend time focused on not only significant initiatives for restaurants and people, but on the nature of their partnership with their second in command.

The productivity and functionality of that relationship delivers those outstanding results you look for. 

When my Restaurant Owners Success Club members met on Zoom recently, we invited their seconds-in-command to come on screen with us to brainstorm and mastermind about how these relationships work, how they can become even better, and, as always, what members could learn from each other.

Key Takeaways Members Took Back to Their Groups

  1. Know the Formula for Your Success. Understand the dynamic between you and your second in command. These can evolve over long-term relationships and, in cases where it’s a family business, this involves family dynamics. Maybe one seems cautious while the other one charges ahead. Maybe one identifies as detail oriented and the other one is a big-picture thinker. Or maybe one has a guest-first focus and the other focuses more on process. Or, if the first and second in command are too similar, take action to overcome that duplication weakness.
  2. Work at Your Level. If you feel the frustration of being stuck handling immediate tasks, stop that and pivot to fix the gaps that cause this. Avoid distractions and trust that your team is covering urgent issues, or make sure gaps are closing, so you two can focus on the big picture.
  3. Update Vision. Reignite and redefine your shared vision frequently. Then make sure everything you do fits into that vision. Slow down in your fast-paced environment to communicate clearly and effectively with each other.
  4. Talk About It. At least quarterly, take time to talk about the relationship – not just about your restaurant’s or employees’ current hot-button issues. Nurture this relationship so it becomes most productive and effective.


Be Intentional – Don’t Take It for Granted

Members report that longstanding combinations of first in command and second in command may risk one or the other being taken for granted. By stopping to talk about them, leaders focus on truly strengthening these teams and the organizations they serve.

What about you? First, share this post with your second in command. Then reflect on how you will be more intentional with your second in command to strengthen results.

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