Learning to lead

If your company isn’t growing like you think it should, Anand Gala believes you may not be giving your stars a chance to reach their full potential.

“Without clear leadership and communication, they’ll be stuck in mediocrity,” says Gala, founder, president and CEO at Gala Corp. “They’ll perform to the best of their ability. But if they are not clear about what they should be doing, you’ll only get average results out of them at best.”

You need to lead, and you need to give your people a chance to do the same.

“If you’re not able to get out in front of your team and effectively and clearly communicate the goals and the mission of the organization, they will suffer in confusion,” Gala says.

By staying in front of his people, Gala has helped the restaurant operator grow, topping $77 million in 2008 revenue with 3,200 employees.

Smart Business spoke with Gala about how to find leaders and get the most out of them.

Define leadership. Develop a strong team that shares your vision and your goals. That team becomes an extension of your leadership and is there to ensure that standards, practices and procedures are being executed as they should be.

If you don’t believe that your senior team is strong enough, you have to define, first and foremost, what does leadership look like?

I really want to see somebody who has a passion. They are passionate about the brand that they are interviewing for. They see something in that brand that they believe they can effectively exploit to turn into something even bigger and even better.

If they see it as only a job, this is the wrong place for them. There is a line a mile long for people who just want a job or are just willing to take a job. I want somebody who is passionate.

There is a series of questions you can ask that can help root out what their passions are in life. It’s going to be different for every industry. In the food service industry, we’re looking for people that are passionate about customer service and passionate about making people happy.

Reinforce your image. We are constantly being interviewed by our candidates, as well. We want to make sure we are presenting a picture of an extraordinary place to work and an extraordinary place where they themselves will be developed.

We believe we are a place that provides that. We provide a challenge and an opportunity for personal and professional development, and we provide tremendous opportunity. We do it by articulating and demonstrating what our historical growth has been because talk is talk.

If you can present them with a history of meeting that philosophy, it speaks volumes. Through the interview process when we get to the second or third interview, it’s really done with multiple leaders in the organization who can personally attest to the growth that they have achieved and the personal satisfaction they have in the organization.