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Your leadership might be only as good as your mentorship

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Being a boss means wearing many different hats. At any time you could be a recruiter, a supervisor, a salesperson, a counsellor, a mediator … the list goes on. But among all the roles you step into, the most important and defining will be your success — or failure — as a leader.

Janet Zuccarini is no stranger to juggling these titles. As owner and CEO of the Gusto 54 Restaurant Group, she’s created a food empire that includes multiple restaurants across North America. And if that wasn’t enough, she’s also a judge on Top Chef Canada.

In an industry that’s notorious for turnover, Zuccarini has been able to foster and develop leaders among the s0-called job-hopping millennial generation. She attributes her to success directly to the people on her team. New ideas, innovations and inspiration from her employees have evolved into restaurants, projects and concepts for Gusto 54.

“The right culture can make or break your retention and that means your financial success as well,” said Zuccarini. “The right people are the most valuable resource in our industry and decisions should be made through that lens.”

Hire for personality, train for skill

There are three character traits that Zuccarini looks for during interviews. The first is passion, the second is a clear interest in growing with the team, and the last is self-awareness.

“I ask candidates why they would or wouldn’t be successful in the role. It demonstrates what level of self-awareness, goal-setting and intellect they have,” said Zuccarini.

The key is to create systems, best practices and training platforms that allow leaders to hire for personality, then train for skill and develop each individual.

“They should have the personality that makes us want the interview to last longer. When the interview becomes more of a conversation, that’s a good sign.”

Create intrepreneurship

Zuccarini has embedded her entrepreneurial spirit into the culture of the company. This is what she says inspires a loyal team and innovative future leaders.

“(Everyone on my team) is made to feel like they own a piece of the restaurants. We built our culture based on entrepreneurialism.”

Keep developing their skill sets

Zuccarini makes sure her team is given the opportunity to succeed by focusing on what they do right rather than what they’ve done wrong.

“We launched Gusto 54 University to aid aspiring leaders through online learning, knowledge reinforcement, systems training, people management and personalized goal setting. Having set-in-place leadership programs allows employees to know you’re open to them growing with your company and in turn reduces turnover rates.”

Treat your staff like your family

A strong sense of belonging creates a team that is able to work together in order to achieve the common goals of the business.

When someone joins our family, we work towards our common goals. We focus on developing our people while they focus on developing the business. Ultimately, we grow and open new locations and businesses as the talent in our four walls grows and is ready for that next step. We learn and grow together.”

Zuccarini shares that millennials want what we all want: to be supported genuinely and recognized for a job well done. By creating a fun environment with opportunities to grow in an inspirational atmosphere, the next generation of leaders are sure to rise.

“A great leader is someone who demonstrates care and guidance to their people. They collect followers and create leaders.”

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