When it comes to the hospitality industry, while there are many different paths to success, there are also some common traits and characteristics that are helpful if not essential for finding your own way to success. In this article, seven seasoned service leaders share what they feel are important traits to have for a successful career in the industry.


Be a good listener

“The skills I deem most important are: 1) being able to listen to our guests; 2) having the ability to communicate and interact with others in a gracious and giving way – not talking down to people nor boasting about one’s knowledge or position; and 3) to remember that knowing our guests’ needs is the business we are in.”

- Cathy Mantuano, Beverage and Service Director, The Joseph


Be humble

“Being humble and open to humility are two things that will make you successful in any career you choose to take on. The issues that we face within the food and beverage sector can sometimes be complex and nuanced and it's important to continue to grow/ learn and be open to comments and critiques to become a better professional and version of yourself.”

- Lauren Paylor, Owner & Co-Founder, Focus on Health

Be poised

“It is important to consistently be poised, positive, and professional. I feel these characteristics are important to have in place for leadership positions where you are trying to set the right example. If you conduct yourself in this manner, you will have a much better chance of earning your team’s trust. It boils down to having strong character and being reliable.

- David Schneider, Director of Operations, Portale

Be an effective communicator

“Effectively managing people, or in other words being an effective communicator is an important skill to possess. It is one of the most difficult skills to learn as it takes understanding how and why others behave and react the way they do. Everyone needs to be communicated with differently in order to be an effective manager of managers, and at the same time it needs to be in a way that is viewed as fair and equitable.That is one of the most important factors of a happy workplace. Additionally, the ability to solve problems while thinking about the big picture and long term outcomes. Are we creating a solution that solves a problem we are having now in this moment of time, or creating something that will be useful even if the players or circumstances change?”

- Trace Conway, Director of Operations, Butcher & Bee

Be adaptable

“Adaptability is a key skill to possess as there is never one right answer. Every situation, every day, every guest, every team requires a different decision that aligns with the overall goal of the organization. Being adaptable allows you to always improve on your decisions. It does not matter what the challenge ahead of you is, with adaptability you will always take that as an opportunity to improve your company.”

- Jhonatan Cano, Director of Operations, Bresca & Jônt

Be honest

“Be honest – there is such a feeling of success when you can be honest with those around you. When you have high integrity coupled with a can-do attitude, your team will know where your intentions lie. Being able to honestly communicate when you need help or when you do not know something breeds trust from your team. It allows teamwork without boundaries when communication can happen effortlessly and with no fear. Also, be honest with your clients. Our diners are sophisticated and well-versed when it comes to dining experiences. If you or your team have blundered, acknowledge the error and ask for the guest's advice on how to regain their trust. Including them in the recovery process is monumental. There is no need for the Wizard of Oz curtain. This is the best opportunity to meet and learn about your client. If their food is going to take a while to be remade, tell them and ask if you can bring something for them to enjoy while they wait.”

- Devorah Allen, General Manager, Ai Fiori

Be committed

“Organization and follow through are both skills that are essential for this industry. People who do not follow through are un-coachable to me.”

- Scott Weiner, President of The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group