Emotional intelligence for chefs in the kitchen. Blog by performance psychologist Mike Duckett

The Staff Canteen

Performance psychologist, Mike Duckett looks at emotional intelligence and how it can be interpreted for chefs in the kitchen.

Can you remember working for a really bad boss?

Chances are that it wasn’t because they couldn’t cook; more likely it was because they weren’t your kind of person.
Have you heard of Emotional Intelligence? Probably, because now it's become widely used as a label to describe what used to be called 'soft skills'. In the kitchen, knife handling or even cooking ability could be regarded as 'hard' skills but we know they won't be enough to get you from sous-chef to executive chef, unless you run your own place where you can promote yourself!

Mike DuckettWhat many industries have realised is that you don't have to be the cleverest to be the best; it's the soft skills such as leadership or team working that really make the difference. The term, Emotional Intelligence, first appeared in the mid 1960's but was really popularised immensely in the 1990's by the psychologist Daniel Goleman.

>>> Read more from Mike Duckett here

In his book, Emotional Intelligence; Why it can matter more than IQ, he starts by referring to the research to show that often the CEOs of successful organisations have a lower IQ score then many of the senior managers that work for them. Their distinguishing success factor is what he called their Emotional Intelligence instead. He went on to publish what he called the 'competencies of the stars'.

Notice one of the most important aspects of this: it falls into two main categories of ability; managing others AND managing ourselves. Also, the good news is that any of these competencies can be learned or developed; they aren't simply in your blood. So e.g. managing the mood you are in is quite possible and you don't have to take it out on the team when you're having a very bad-mood day.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that because I've referred to them as 'soft' skills that are fluffy or cuddly! Part of good social skill is communicating clear convincing messages, even when they are hard messages e.g. things are not going well and change is needed. Developing others includes giving negative feedback when performance is poor and managing conflict means being an assertive mediator.

The crucial point about this is that to be an effective team member or leader you need a balance across all these areas of skill. You can pay to get your profile analysed by someone licensed to use an EI test but for now you could just take a look at the table and ask yourself some searching questions about where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Maybe you could even get your boss and team-mates to answer from their perspective – that might start a REALLY useful conversation!

Mike Duckett
Mike Duckett

Mike Duckett has a degree in psychology and is a member of the Occupational Psychology division, the Sports Psychology division & the Coaching Psychology Special Group of the British Psychological Society. He holds a diploma in Hypnotherapy & Cognitive therapy and is a certified NLP coach.

With over 20 years experience he was one of the pioneers of applying performance psychology to coach people in the hospitality industry to get the best from themselves, in areas such as creativity; leadership; optimism etc.

As a certified NLP Coach and ANLP Accredited Master Practitioner, Mike has clients ranging from world renowned chefs, restaurateurs & sommeliers to up and coming staff in both the kitchen and front of house. You can see more of Mike's blogs atcoachforsuccess.wordpress.com

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 12th April 2017

Emotional intelligence for chefs in the kitchen. Blog by performance psychologist Mike Duckett