Four Tips for Recruiting Rock Solid Restaurant Executives

Recruiting Rock Solid Restaurant Executives

What is the stuff that the top restaurant executive recruits are made of? Reputation and reference checks are one way to get a sense of a candidate’s character, but they don’t tell the whole story. A good hiring manager develops an instinct for recognizing intangible traits. Hint: you can’t spot them on a resume.

In the book Winning, by Jack Welch, the iconic former CEO of General Electric, he gives a list of essential traits that he discovered over time and experience were the most important qualities to identify in hiring for his team. Recruiting executives with these qualities helped him build GE into one of the world’s most valuable companies:

1. Integrity: Welch’s definition of integrity is, “people with integrity tell the truth, and they keep their word.” People with integrity take responsibility for their actions instead of blaming others. They mean what they say, and they keep their commitments, even when it’s difficult.

2. Maturity:  Mature people, says Welch, gracefully handle stress and stumbling blocks at work.  They also “enjoy success with equal parts of joy and humility.” They respect the emotions of their co-workers and typically have a sense of humor about themselves. A candidate’s age is not necessarily a measure of their maturity.

3. Authenticity: Welch says that at GE they sometimes had smart, high-achieving executives who stalled out when it came to promotions. What was missing? Authenticity. Authenticity “makes leaders likable, for lack of a better word… leaders can’t have an iota of fakeness.” Authenticity helps leaders connect with their teams on an emotional level. When people have the confidence to be authentic, it rubs off on the people on around them. Authentic people are better able to motivate a team and gain trust and authority, says Welch.

4. Edge: Welch summarizes edge as “the courage to make tough yes-or-no decisions.” In a world filled with ambiguity, strong leaders have the courage to make tough calls on the spot. They don’t hinder progress by leaving issues hanging in limbo. This is especially vital in operations. Welch also says that just because a candidate is smart or highly educated, it doesn’t mean they have edge.

For more of Welch’s straightforward wisdom on sharpening your hiring instincts, including the little gem that he calls the “4-E (and 1-P) framework,” check out his book, Winning.

Rebecca Patt specializes in hiring winning executive talent for the restaurant industry with Wray Executive Search. Contact her at

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