Being dubbed a good all-rounder can be an underwhelming distinction in these days of specialists, whose expertise win accolades far and beyond the reach of mere jacks of all trades. Consult the thesaurus and definitions such as guru, whizz, hotshot abound.
However, I’ve always been a fan of the all-rounder; versatile and broad of skill and stamina that may allude we average plodders and sloggers.
I was reminded of my admiration for such able folk this week when we held a tutored wine evening with Tuscan wine producer Susanna Crociani. In between introducing her range of classic red wines from Montepulicano to an appreciative gathering at The Depot, it emerged that not only does she make the wines, she runs the entire business: engaging seasonal pickers, maintaining the vineyards, overseeing the ageing and bottling process, running a guest house and touring Europe, promoting her Tuscan delights.
I was really impressed with the scope of her work and the grit and resoluteness she displayed, especially as she’d been thrown in at the deep end following the sudden death of her beloved brother, who had been running the family winery with heart and gusto. Susanna meanwhile had a successful career in the music industry but felt duty bound to carry on the family wine heritage.
Doggedness and determination seemed to pulse through her veins as she described her tiny work-force and struggles to make a relatively small (60-70,000 bottles produced annually) vineyard prosper, albeit one situated in rich terroir and steeped in vinicultural tradition, not to mention breath-taking scenery.
Funnily enough I’ve always thought restaurant managers have to display similar all-round skills in order to survive, never mind prosper. The sheer variety of matters arising in an average day running a restaurant can present challenges even an adept juggler may struggle with. As we continually say, ‘there’s always something’, ‘never a dull moment’ and whilst the silver lining may be that the time flies, you can end up wondering ‘what next?’ and ‘not again’!
A common conclusion of any study of managers in such typically demanding circumstances is that the skill set required may actually be too broad for them to fully succeed and stay on top and in control. The all-rounder tag no longer realistically applies and to expect it to doesn’t reflect the dichotomous nature of the demands.
Woe betide any business owner who doesn’t recognise or acknowledge this conundrum and fails to spot the signs (time spent charming the customers is all very well, but what happened to that pile of paperwork meantime?) or makes the fatal assumption that a manager functions equally well in all aspects of the business.
But having recently met Susanna Crociani, maybe it’s not unreasonable to expect, or at least encourage, multi- tasking and the development of a broad set of skills. Quoting her as an outstanding example of both may prove a useful rallying cry to any management team struggling on the juggling front. Add a healthy dose of proprietorial blood, sweat and tears, and you really do have the real deal.
Imagine a management team with a combination of all round talent and proprietorial drive: realistic proposition or a case of having my cake and eating it? Perhaps that’s the stuff of future musings…it’s high time for a glass of Rosso di Montepulciano, Cantina Crociani 2013!