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6 Essential Leadership Skills for Bar Managers

Explore the six most important leadership skills that make for a successful bar management career. 

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Whether you want to improve your skills as a bar manager or have aspirations of running a bar, improving your leadership skills is vital. 

We asked JJ Goodman , industry-leading bar owner and Madeleine Geach, Leadership Coach for the hospitality industry, for their insight on the top leadership skills that you need for a successful career. 


People look to their leaders to know where they are going, it's important to have a vision and make sure everyone in the team knows their role in achieving this vision.  

A vision is: 

  • Future-orientated - An obtainable dream for the future that will excite, motivate and inspire the team. For example, 'In six months, we're going to be our city's no.1 tequila bar.'  
  • Clearly defined and solution-oriented - A good vision has clear steps to how you're going to get there. What are the practical things we need to do to achieve this vision? What training do we need?   
  • Positive and inclusive – Give everyone a part to play in achieving the vision so there is a positive, shared sense of purpose within the team.  
  • Communicated effectively - A vision is not just shared once every six months; it's repeated regularly, for example in daily meetings, so it infiltrates all aspects of a bar's set up from training to ways of working.


Good communication is essential for building trust within a team. Here are 6 Cs to remember when communicating as a leader:   

The 6 Cs of Communication: 

  1. Consideration - Step into the shoes of the person you're communicating with. Understanding where they are coming from and their concerns will add care and empathy to your communication style. 
  2. Completeness - Cover everything, including questions people might have. Don't let anyone leave unclear or short of information.  
  3. Conciseness - Keep things brief and to the point. 
  4. Clarity - Focus on a specific goal or message.  
  5. Concreteness - Keep it real, definite, tangible and grounded.  
  6. Correctness - Speak in facts and provide accurate information.


When explaining decisions, the ideal method of communication can depend on team size. For example, verbal / face-to-face tends to work best for small teams and written format (email, digital note, post) works better for large teams. 


Team members may not naturally volunteer feedback so it's important to create intentional opportunities to gather it and improve our leadership skills.     

Informal Feedback 

  • Catch up informally with team or colleagues during training or daily catchups. 
  • Ask people how they are doing, how they think things are going and if they are lacking any information.   

Formal Feedback  

  • Many bars, restaurants and other businesses use digital surveys with their team. Surveys give helpful insights, and if done frequently, they can help gauge mood shifts over time.  
  • A Pulse survey is a very short survey that will take less than a minute to fill out and have 2-3 questions (e.g. How are you feeling at work this week? How would you rate team morale? Are you getting all the information you need?). 


The better you lead yourself, the better leader you can be for those around you.  

  • Understand Your Leadership Style - Different personalities lead differently. Know your natural leadership style and identify where you can improve.  
  • Be Willing to Evolve - No matter how experienced you are as a leader, new teams or environments can bring up unexpected situations and challenges. Always be open to learning more so you are prepared for whatever is around the corner.    
  • Delegate more - Delegating not only helps you to manage your workload better but sharing more responsibility gives team members the opportunity to develop their leadership skills.   
  • Invest in your physical and mental health - Prioritise self-care and bring awareness to how balanced or unbalanced your life is. If you're overworking and close to burnout, step back, reassess, make adjustments to get back on track. 


The bar industry is fast-paced, and in a typical working week, there isn't often time to stop and think ahead, to make plans and set goals. Allocating thinking time in your diary will help keep the bigger picture on the horizon.


  • Schedule time in your diary to think about the bigger picture. For example, every Thursday at 10am, take a walk in the park that can also double up as thinking time.  
  • Take time to think through bigger issues and challenges - By setting aside time to think through bigger issues, like a difficult conversation you need to have with a team member, you will have a calmer and a less reactive approach. 


Find support you can trust to help you build your leadership skills and work on your strengths and weaknesses.  

Places you might find leadership support:  

  • Leadership mentor/coaching 
  • Online resources 
  • Allies/Industry Peer Support 
  • Friends/Family 


Here are five quick takeaways to help you cultivate your leadership skills:  

  1. Create a vision - Be ambitious, dream big and make sure everyone is on board and has a part to play.  
  2. Prioritise your wellbeing - Put a plan in place that prioritises your own physical and mental wellbeing to avoid burnout.  
  3. Use the 6cs of Communication - Be considerate, complete, concise, clear, concrete and correct.   
  4. Seek out feedback – Check in with your team informally and formally to track what’s working well and what needs improvement.  
  5. Don't go it alone – Good leaders have built-in support to help them navigate the challenges of leadership. Whether it is through friends, peer support or leadership coaching, find what works for you.  

By continuously honing your leadership skills and taking care to lead yourself well, you're not just tending to the day to day needs of your venue but cultivating a thriving team, exceptional customer experience and a sustainable and successful career.

Looking for further inspiration? Get free access to exclusive, training, news, trends and resources when you sign up as a Diageo Bar Academy member.