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Inspiring passion: A leadership lesson from ‘The Bear’

In episode five of season three of The Bear, there is a quiet scene, a transition to close the second act. The camera cuts cut between Marcus working on a new dessert and Tina in another part of the kitchen trying to stretch the few pieces of cauliflower and brussels sprouts she was able to buy at the market.

The moment shows the growth of these characters. When Carmen (the Bear) inherited his family’s sandwich shop, Marcus made the rolls and Tina was a line cook. They seemed to like their jobs, but it was the same thing every day. They were frustrated, robotic, and self-involved.

Halfway through season three, we see how much things have changed. Under Carmy and Sidney’s leadership, frustration has been replaced with passion, monotony with creativity, and self-involvement with problem-solving.

Even Richie, the pain in the ass “cousin” has a newfound passion for the front of the house. His personality hasn’t changed much, he’s still difficult, but it’s now about something that matters. He aspires for the service at The Bear to be excellent.

Investing in people

In this quick scene, Sydney senses Tina’s frustration and asks what she’s working on. When she explains the dilemma, Sydney gently offers, “Can I show you something?”

I love that moment. Sydney sees beyond this one problem, to a teachable moment, an opportunity to give Tina another technique she can use in this situation and in the future.

Carmy & Sydney have invested in their staff. They have sent them to training, helped them find places to apprentice, and gently (usually) tutored them. Then, they get out of the way.

Room to fail

That’s why I love Sydney’s approach to Tina in that moment. She asks permission to enter into Tina’s work. There is so much respect in the question, “Can I show you something?”

At the same time, we see former roll baker now pastry chef Marcus, experimenting with a dessert. We’ve seen him do this before, and it hasn’t always worked. But he knows he has permission to try and fail and try again.

Marcus and Tina are teachable. They want to learn and grow in their work. As they learn, discover, and figure things out, Tina, Marcus, Richie and others are becoming more invested in their work, taking ownership, and making others around them better.

Carmy and Sydney have created an environment for all of that by investing in others, inspiring passion, then getting out of the way to let them shine.

That is a level of leadership to which I aspire.

I would, however, like to accomplish this with less yelling and several fewer f-bombs.

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