We are often asked what leadership traits most successful food truck operators possess. When you look at the definition of a leader, it states, “one who leads or guides.” And we’ve all heard the phrase “lead by example.” Unfortunately this just isn’t enough. There are at least seven qualities of leadership that help to make a good food truck owner.
The first trait you will find in a successful food truck owner is someone who is not afraid to get his or her hands dirty. Someone who will do the same job, duty, or task alongside subordinates, while keeping a positive attitude. This helps build and gain respect. Besides, how else can you expect someone to do the job you ask him or her to do if you do not know how or are not willing to do it yourself?
A person who listens, not just hears. Pay complete attention to what the person is saying. Look them in the eyes, acknowledge them and don’t interrupt. Ask questions of clarification, reiterate what they are saying, and ask the person if you understand them correctly. But listening doesn’t stop there. You need to follow through on the conversation and do what you said you would do. Build integrity and trust.
Make good business decisions but show compassion when needed. The bottom line is the bottom line. You don’t have to be cruel to accomplish tough results. Be honest, state the facts, ask for suggestions, and make the best decision. A lot of times things look good on paper but don’t really work in reality. Sometimes those who are on the front lines and performing the job every day give the best answers. Not only do you get the answer you may be looking for, you also build confidence and develop future managers and supervisors.
Treat others fairly, including yourself. Favoritism has no place in a mobile food business. Is it hard not to solely rely on those who are the strongest? Absolutely, but it’s your job to encourage and improve the super performers in your food truck business. Learn to delegate to improve teamwork and lighten the load for everybody.
Learning never stops. You should try to learn something new every day, sometimes this will happen without even seeking it out. You also need to be open to learning from subordinates, peers, and supervisors. There is no one person who has all the answers. This industry is in a constant state of change and you need to be able to adapt. It’s important to stay fresh and current. Think outside the box; there’s usually more than one way to accomplish a goal. If the way you tried doesn’t work, you’ve learned, and it’s what you take from the experience that’s important.
Develop those under you. The fastest way to move up is to train someone to take your job. This is one of the best ways to show leadership. Too often, people are afraid of “losing their jobs” because someone else knows how to do their job. This is not the case. This frees up time for you to develop your skills in other aspects of the business.
Finally, you need to be able to admit that you’ve made mistakes. Nobody has all the answers. You’re going to stumble, trip, and even fall. But those who are honest and admit their failures will gain the respect of others and will learn the most.