4 Things Managers Can Learn from Top Chef’s Mentors


I love the show Top Chef – and not just because I met past All-Star Carla Hall at the WorldatWork Total Rewards last year.

Top Chef brings together the best in the cooking world for a no-holds barred competition to see who will rise to the top. The first 8 seasons have all been pretty similar – who can manage to perform when faced with tremendous obstacles in the kitchen.  For many of these challenges, the contestants’ ability to manage people (and a restaurant environment) were often the difference between a spot in the finals and an order to put away their knives and go.

This year, Season 9, offered a new twist in one of the weekly competitions.  The show brought in each of the chef’s mentors – the ones who encouraged and recognized their special talents. This was obviously an emotional episode for the chefs involved as these mentors helped build the foundational passion that resides within each of them. Their mere presence drove the chefs to new heights during the episode, as they each wanted to perform at their highest level.

So what can you learn from this as HR leaders or managers?  I can think of four things to ask:

1. Are you prioritizing your leadership and management responsibilities?  Your management of an employee today can shape their present and future passion and performance.

2. Do you recognize and reward talent appropriately?  Great performance doesn’t just happen from employees. It often needs to be cultivated frequently along the way.

3. Do you appreciate YOUR mentors?  Mentor relationships work both up and down. Take the time to look at your reasons for your own success and apply this around you.

4.  Do you take the necessary time for relationships?  The business world is far smaller than you think. Social networking tools make it even smaller. Use the tools and your time the right way to foster relationships.

Becoming great in your profession takes a lot of work. It also takes a lot of help too. So the next time you meet with an employee (which is hopefully very regularly!), think back to your career and who helped you. Someday, this employee may be the one thanking you for your help and guidance in their success.  Who knows – maybe he or she could be the next Apprentice winner!

Kevin Mullins Kevin Mullins (10 Posts)

Kevin Mullins is Director of Global Corporate Communications at Globoforce.