Soup of the Day Leadership

[May 22, 2018]  Yesterday I heard celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey talk about indicators of mediocre restaurants.  Of course, Mr. Ramsey is famous for screaming into the faces of more subpar be chefs than anyone ever.  One of his indicators is a waiter telling you they have a soup of the day.1

When I heard him talk, I immediately thought that this is really just like leadership.  Mediocre restaurants are like mediocre leaders; they are not acceptable for the vast majority of people.

“Mediocre leaders attempt to replicate what they see others doing while great leaders draw inspiration.” – Cole NeSmith, American writer, musician, speaker

Gordon Ramsey advises us that there are three main ways to tell if you will have a problem with a restaurant … and how this is like leadership.

First, you get seated immediately.  There are plenty of vacant tables but with any good restaurant, the tables are always near capacity.  Leadership is like that too.  Leaders are always busy making things better for everyone.  Those leaders who are not busy are not aren’t getting much accomplished.

Second, there are too many specials on the menu; there should only be one or two.  For leaders who have no priorities, or worse, too many priorities, they appear directionless and struggle to accomplish tasks assigned to them.  They task others to work but never inspire them to go beyond the minimum.

And third, Ramsey tells us to be wary of restaurants that have a soup of the day; that soup which never seems to change.   Leaders who are unwilling to change only make matters worse for themselves and their employees because they are not flexible enough to keep the interest of others and adapt to obstacles thrown in their path.

Gordon Ramsey says he can tell if the restaurant is a problem before he even sits down to eat.  That is why I call out inflexible, second-rate leaders.  They are practicing soup of the day leadership and that simply doesn’t cut it in a modern world.  If you have experience with great leaders, you can tell immediately if they are one … or not.


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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

29 thoughts on “Soup of the Day Leadership

  1. Roger Yellowmule

    Missed your article yesterday. Thanks for a new twist on an old problem in leadership.

  2. Tracey Brockman

    We find these types of leaders throughout the US military. That may come as a surprise. But what we do is that these folks either improve or are weeded out well before they reach a mid-management level. This means that when it’s time to select commanders, those soldiers are no longer in the running.

  3. Bryan Lee

    Good humor in today’s post on leadership. I never heard poor leadership referred to as “soup of the day” leadership but it is very apt and I think I’ll also start using it. I had a boss once that was good some days and poor others. He was simply not motivated. He had the skills (mostly he did) but lacked the willpower to see missions through to the end. I now call him soup of the day boss.

  4. Greg Heyman

    Good comments today ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  5. Joe Omerrod

    One thing that must be argued here is that the definition of a “soup of the day” leader depends upon their level of leadership and the matching skills required to succeed. While US Pres Carter was a poor leader at the presidential level, he was a very good governor of a state. Some will say that he is a good example of the Peter Principle as an explanation. Regardless, remember that it matters level vs skill sets.

  6. Shawn C. Stolarz

    Yes, this blog post reminded me also of the days of US Pres Jimmy Carter and his malaise that infected the entire nation. Fortunately, us Americans are much stronger than weak leaders like him. He will go down as one of the worst presidents in our history.

  7. Max Foster

    Good article today on a common and worthwhile problem that plagues many leaders; mainly those who are insufficiently motivated to make improvements in their skills.

  8. Georgie M.

    I’m a big fan of Chef Gordon Ramsey and of course I must like any article that puts him in a favorable light. Thank you for connecting what he does to leadership. He is a leader.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Good point Dale Paul. Thanks.

  9. Anita

    Albert, I think we have all had bad or less-than-good bosses who made our lives miserable. Sometimes we just have bad luck with them and other times those bosses are just plain evil. Either way, avoid them when you recognize them.

  10. Albert Ayer

    I too have had more than my share of bosses that lacked the basic traits of leadership. Everyone suffered for it. Thanks for the article today that shows us what mediocre leadership is about.

  11. Watson Bell

    It wasn’t that long ago that my friend got the promotion he wanted in a large manufacturing firm. The problem, however, was that he constantly struggled to attain the level of leadership required. He never made it and later asked to be reduced back to his original position. The good news was that he recognized his limitations. Most of us cannot.

    1. Martin Shiell

      The same thing happened to me. Fortunately, I also was able to see that I was in over my head and had to do something that was embarrassing (by taking a demotion) but better than being fired and having no job at all.

  12. Dennis Mathes

    Another opportunity to learn and appreciate the finer points of leadership. Thank you.

  13. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    Gen Satterfield, I enjoyed your article today and have had my share of “soup of the day” leaders. They were all marginal leaders who lacked several basic elements of what it took to be effective and ethical.

  14. Gil Johnson

    Nice connection to Chef Ramsey and his philosophy of what makes a good restaurant.

  15. Wilson Cox

    Interesting take on less-than-adequate leadership. Thanks.

  16. Darryl Sitterly

    I never heard of “soup of the day” leadership before but I get your meaning. It’s just a mediocre form of leadership like US President Jimmy Carter was the “blasé” leader of the nation.

    1. Edward Kennedy III

      Jimmie Carter is an appropriate example.

  17. Janna Faulkner

    Another good article to enlighten us. Thanks Gen Satterfield.

  18. Army Captain

    When I read the title of your post today I thought “what the heck is he writing about”. Then after reading it, I laughed and nearly snorted my coffee through my nose. Thanks for a great start today.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Me too. Thanks for getting here first, Army Captain.

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