Basic Service Issues in Private Clubs

October 27th, 2019

There are certain basic service issues common to most clubs.

  • Maintain Decorum.  Clubs typically develop an atmosphere that is a reflection of its membership.  Whether formal or casual, the attitudes and behaviors of members will establish an appropriate decorum for the club in general and various areas of the club in particular.  Employees need to be aware of and maintain this decorum.
  • Avoid Familiarity.  Many members live a more casual, relaxed lifestyle and they naturally carry this casualness into their interactions with club employees.  Some members ask employees to call them by their first names and enjoy joking and exchanging banter with employees.  This, however, can create a potential minefield for employees.
  • Avoid Sensitive Topics and Language.  Club employees should always avoid engaging in or responding to conversations with members on sensitive or controversial subjects such as religion, politics, discussions of other members, and ethnic or off-colored jokes.
  • Enforce Club Rules.  Each club has rules and regulations for its members to follow such as dress code, proper golf course etiquette, ready play, prohibition of carrying coolers on the golf course or in the pool areas, etc.  Unfortunately, when members do not follow the rules, it is up to employees to enforce them.  Often the infraction is unintentional and the member simply needs a reminder.  In some cases it may be best to make an exception in the immediate case to avoid embarrassment, but the member should always be educated in the process to avoid future problems.  When informing members of a rules violation, it is always helpful to offer an alternative to the member, for instance, seating inappropriately dressed members in the bar to eat instead of the dining room.
  • Offer Special Touches.  There are small, yet special touches that demonstrate the club’s commitment to service.  Special touches should be devised and included in all areas of the operation.
  • Meet Service Requests.  As an operation that caters to the needs and desires of its members, clubs will make every effort to meet the special requests of its members.  Going the extra mile to provide service will always impress members and their guests.
  • Satisfy High Maintenance Members.  Employees should understand that there will always be ‘high maintenance’ members.  Satisfying their higher expectations is part of the cost of doing business and the ultimate challenge of service.  So employees should not dwell on the difficult few; rather, they must recognize each request or complaint as legitimate and focus on the solution.
  • Know your Facility.  Every dining room has good seats and bad seats.  The good seats are near the fireplace in winter, overlooking the verandah in summer, or a booth for quiet, intimate dining.  Conversely, there are bad tables under air conditioning vents, near pantry and exterior doors, or near a large party of young children.  You and your employees should be aware of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the club and seat members accordingly
  • Know Member Names.  Members want to be recognized and acknowledged at their club.  These are among the main reasons people join clubs.  Strive to learn their last names and address them as Mr., Mrs. Ms., etc., every opportunity you can.
  • Know Member Habits.  You and your employees should make every effort to learn the habits of members, particularly those who use club frequently.  Whether it’s Dr. Jones liking his martinis dry and straight up or Mrs. Smith’s inability to tolerate dairy products or Mr. Martin always having a Courvoisier after his meal, these tidbits of information, when followed up on by employees, provide a higher level of service and a personal touch that is always appreciated by the member.
  • Reinforce Club Value.  It is through the daily casual conversation with members that you have the ability to build value. Most members pay dues monthly or quarterly, so the club must reinforce to them that their money is well spent.  Talk about the upcoming club activities and events, talk about an exciting new offering in the dining room, talk about items of interest that will help them see the benefits of being a member at their club.
  • Maintain Club Appeal.  One way to ensure that the club is appealing to members is to pretend you are the member.  Each time you arrive to work, walk into the club facility as if you were a new member or were entertaining guests.  Walk around the clubhouse, view the dining rooms and bar area, take a look in the bathrooms; all the time acting as if you have never set foot on the premises.  Look from top to bottom and see if you discover something that is out of place, dirty, or in need of repair.  Then take action to fix it.
  • Establish WOW Factors.  We must all recognize that what excites and astounds today will be seen as old news tomorrow.  In order for the club and its employees to continually provide the unexpected service touches that wow our members, we must challenge ourselves to brainstorm and plan for ways to continually impress.  We cannot leave it to chance.

Make sure you and your employees are aware of these issues and know how to act/respond in all circumstances.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking managers throughout the country and around the world.

A Modest Grand Theory

October 15th, 2019

Albert Einstein, after his world-shaking General Theory of Relativity was published, validated, and accepted by the scientific community, spent the remainder of his life working on a Unified Field Theory that attempted to boil all physics down to one elemental formula, hopefully as elegantly simple as his earlier stroke of genius – E=mc2.  While he never achieved his Grand Theory, I fully understand his desire to distill complexity to simplicity.

On a far humbler scale, I have also been impelled to boil the seeming complexities of hospitality operations into a smaller number of principles that when followed would lead to organizational success.  What I’ve come to believe is that there are four basic requirements for any successful organizations.  They are:

  • Leadership – the skills that permit those who direct an enterprise to win the enthusiastic support and efforts of their followers to the accomplishment of specific goals and tasks.
  • Organization – the ability to structure and integrate the complex and interrelated programs and processes of the enterprise to promote efficient operations.
  • Management Disciplines – the ability to consistently implement generally-accepted requirements and best practices at all levels of the organization.
  • Hiring Well and Training Thoroughly – the programs and disciplines that cultivate the attraction and retention of the best talent, as well as consistent, efficient, and professional completion of all tasks and engagements with members.

Having outlined these four requirements, I would go on to say that they are all supported by one key element and that is discipline.

While complex business enterprises require both broad and specific skill sets for success, these mean little if each individual and the corporate group as a whole don’t have the intense and overriding discipline to focus daily on the essential tasks at hand and complete them as efficiently as possible.

Complex enterprises may be based on sound management ideas and theory, but without, as Jim Collins says, “disciplined people taking disciplined thought and engaged in disciplined action,” they will never build enduring greatness.  In other words, despite whatever talents your management team may possess, without discipline you’re just muddling through.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking managers throughout the country and around the world.

On the Go Training

September 29th, 2019

Clubs face a challenging training burden if they are to deliver the high levels of service expected by their members.  Yet with tight budgets how can managers meet their training obligations while controlling costs since every hour of training is a payroll hour for each employee being trained?  Add to this the difficulty of getting all of your employees together at one time for a formal training session.

The answer to these challenges is to build your training programs around the “on the go” concept where ongoing training material is formatted in brief – no more than five to ten minutes – sessions.  In every shift, in every club department, there are spare moments, time when employees have finished their shift preparations, time when employees are socializing among themselves or awaiting instructions from supervisors.  Since you’re already paying for this time, plan on putting it to good use.

In every department there are hundreds of operational details that employees must learn and refresh themselves with some frequency.  This is just as true in golf operations, golf course maintenance, aquatics and activities as it is in food and beverage.  All that is necessary is for the department head to outline training requirements in brief doses and format them so they can be pulled out at a moment’s notice for either group-led or individual instruction.

With today’s ability to find anything on the Internet with just a few keywords and keystrokes, all the information you need to teach your employees values, etiquette, product knowledge, safety, security, sanitation, HR requirements, responsible beverage service, or how to operate or maintain any piece of equipment is readily available.  You just have to format it for easy use.

Club Resources International has developed a number of On the Go Training programs for food and beverage, leadership, management disciplines, human resources, values, and safety.  These offer a proven model of how easy it is to format material and train your employees to increase their knowledge, skills, abilities, and service techniques.  For example, check out the Training on the Go material on the CRI website.  I’d also recommend you read Chris Conner’s excellent article on his club’s experience with Training on the Go – Training on the Go – A direct line to restaurant profits?

Then get to work developing your own On the Go Training material.  Set a goal of developing two classes per week and then stick to that discipline.  In a year you’ll have a hundred ready to go classes for staff training.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking managers throughout the country and around the world.

Report This!

September 15th, 2019

Some years ago while I was discussing the benefits of benchmarking with a club general manager, he surprised me by saying that he “didn’t like reports.”  I was so stunned by this admission that I never did discover his objection – whether he didn’t like preparing them for his superiors or didn’t like getting and reading them from subordinates.  Either way it seemed to me that he was unnecessarily limiting the flow of information and blinding himself to the details of his operation.

Let me digress for a moment to imagine a pilot of a commercial airliner in the cockpit of his plane.  At any moment of the flight from pre-flight preparation, take off, cruising to destination, to approach and landing, he has a host of dials, gauges, and indicators that keep him informed of the status of all operating systems and external factors affecting the plane – information such as altitude readings, fuel levels, engine oil pressure, status of hydraulic systems, radar signals, navigation beacons, and so on.  The pilot, by monitoring this array of displays, assures himself that all parameters of the plane’s performance are within desired standards.  If something is amiss, alarms will immediately notify him of problems needing attention, thereby assisting him in taking the appropriate action to assure the safety of plane and passengers.

It may be argued that club operations are just as complex with thousands of details that must be attended to daily (though without the serious safety implications).  Yet the person with overall responsibility for club operations – the general manager – has limited mechanisms to report on the health and vitality of the enterprise in anything approaching real time.  In some clubs the only indicator of developing problems is the monthly financial statement that becomes available weeks later.  Even then, the summary information in the club’s operating statement provides only a limited assessment of performance at best.

Modern point of sale and club management software systems have come a long way in providing the underlying detail of the operations with “drill-down” capabilities and custom reporting, yet how many general managers avail themselves of this trove of information or make a formal effort to analyze the detail in the longer term context of goals and budgets?

This brings me back again to reports.  A discipline of formal reporting can and does provide a means of monitoring specific information on a regular basis.  As such, reports are an important mechanism for the general manager, as well as department heads, to monitor performance in a timely and efficient way.  For the department head tasked with preparing the report, it is a disciplined means of focusing on the important details of departmental operations while creating a record of ongoing initiatives, progress toward goals, and departmental performance.  Once established, the discipline of routine periodic reports is the best way for a subordinate manager to influence the boss’s perceptions about his or her performance.

For the general manager, regular reporting of key information from department heads is the best way to monitor departmental performance with the least investment of time.  Instead of personally digging into the details of the operation, the general manager can review periodic reports and benchmarks and focus time and attention on out-of-line parameters.  Also, when the responsibility to monitor and report key data is put on the department heads, they are in the position of primary discovery, allowing them to formulate solutions or initiatives to correct operational deficiencies, as opposed to putting that burden on the general manager.  Lastly, by establishing such a reporting discipline, the general manager is providing a critical lesson to subordinate managers – that they are responsible for the performance of their departments, that they must pay close attention to the details of their operation, and that they are responsible for managing the boss’s perceptions of their performance by providing timely and accurate data, analyzing information, and drawing conclusions regarding operational trends.

While reports may seem like a lot of paperwork to some, once the discipline of preparing and submitting these reports is established, department heads will discover that they are just part of operational routine.  On the other hand, the benefit of everyone paying attention to key performance indicators is well worth the effort.  Ultimately, it makes the general manager’s challenging job easier and serves to make club operations more efficient.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking managers throughout the country and around the world.

Principles of Employee Relations

September 1st, 2019

We have spoken frequently about the importance of well-defined values in club operations.  None is more important that the manner in which we conduct our employee relations.  Here is a sample statement of those values.

1.  All employees will be treated with dignity and respect.

2.  We pledge to conduct our employee relations in an honest and straightforward way.  Any necessary criticism or counseling will be conducted in private in a constructive manner with the intention of instructing and correcting rather than blaming.

3.  Every employee contributes to the overall success of our operation.  The only difference among employees is their level of authority and responsibility.  Every employee is important.

4.  The great majority of people want to do their jobs well and take pride in their work.  When an employee fails, it is often a failure of management to properly train or communicate performance expectations.  In other words, we can’t expect employees to do something properly unless we have properly shown them how to do it.

5.  Employees have no idea what goals management has for them unless those goals are communicated.  They have a need and the right to know how their performance is contributing to the achievement of those goals.  Continual feedback is essential.

6.  Management must make every practical effort to keep employees informed on matters concerning standards, policy, procedures, long range plans, projects, work conditions, and compensation and benefits.  An informed employee is a better employee.  Supervisors should be available at reasonable times to answer questions and hear employee concerns.

7.  Recognition is important to all of us.  If we have the authority to correct, we also have the responsibility to praise.  We cannot have one without the other.

8.  Every one of us has a responsibility to help our fellow employees.  We do not work alone.  Rather we work together for a common purpose.  We owe it to ourselves and everyone we work with to be personally pleasant and mutually supportive.  One unpleasant personality or negative, non-cooperative attitude can ruin the workplace for all of us.

9.  We must empower our employees through meaningful contribution, while striving to make our workplace interesting, challenging, and rewarding.  We can do this only by involving employees in decision-making and continual process improvement.  The ideas and energy of our employees are truly the driving force behind any success we may achieve as an organization.

10.  Our workplace must also be pleasant, enjoyable, and even fun.  Too much of our lives are given to work for it to be viewed as a necessary drudgery.  Each employee is challenged to do everything possible within good taste and reason to make their workplace more enjoyable for us all.

When a leader make it clear to all in her organization how employee relations will be conducted, it reduces the problems created by inappropriate and inconsistent treatment by managers.  Just as children get mixed messages when their parents have different approaches to child rearing and discipline, club employees can suffer when their managers have different ways of dealing with staff.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking managers throughout the country and around the world.

Value Your People

August 17th, 2019

In an article on employee empowerment, business consultant Susan M. Heathfield said, “Your regard for people shines through in all of your actions and words. Your facial expression, your body language, and your words express what you are thinking about the people who report to you. Your goal is to demonstrate your appreciation for each person’s unique value. No matter how an employee is performing on their current task, your value for the employee as a human being should never falter and always be visible.”

What things can you as a leader do to demonstrate your regard for people “in all your actions and words”?

Know and use employee names.  Everyone likes to be recognized as an individual and called by name.  Certainly your members and guests do and your employees do as well.  Introduce them to members and guests when appropriate.  Failing to do so implies they’re just part of the scenery instead of key contributors to the success of your operation.

Learn about employees as individuals.  Get to know them, their life situations, their dreams and plans, their goals in life.  This does not mean you are to become their friend or confidante, but it does mean you have enough interest in them as individuals to try to understand their situation, their needs, and motivations.

Greet employees daily.  You should never fail to greet employees when you see them each day.  You don’t like to be ignored as if you were unimportant, and neither do they.

Share your time with employees.  As busy as you are, make time for your employees.  They have questions, concerns, and needs that should never be ignored.  Be open and approachable.  When you are not, when they are afraid to come to you for fear of your reaction, you are kept in the dark about what is really going on in your team.  If any employee is monopolizing your time or is a “high maintenance” employee, do not be shy about letting him know the inappropriateness of this behavior.

Recognize each person’s strengths and weaknesses.  None of us is the perfect manager, server, retail attendant, etc.  Don’t expect your employees to be.  Learn each person’s strengths and weakness.  Capitalize on the strengths and help each person overcome their weaknesses.  The time you invest in helping an employee develop his or her skills and abilities is well worth the effort and will be appreciated far more than you’ll ever realize.

Be involved in the workplace and work processes.  Do not create a hostile work environment by failing to adequately engage with your employees.  Without your ongoing guidance and direction, petty dissensions and friction will grow among the workers of your team as they struggle to figure out who must do what.

Look out for your peoples’ welfare.  Make sure your employees get adequate work breaks, that their work spaces are set up for comfort and efficiency, that they are properly trained and equipped for their jobs, that you adjust work schedules when possible to meet individual needs, that you resolve pay discrepancies quickly, that you get back to them to resolve issues they’ve raised.

Treat employees as adults.  When you treat employees like children, they will act like children.  Don’t talk down to them or treat them as if they’re immature.  When you give people responsibility, most will reward your trust.  Those who demonstrate they can’t be trusted should be encouraged to move on.

Show respect.  This is critically important in the way you speak, the tone of your voice, your choice of words, and your body language.  Your respect for others cannot be faked.  You must sincerely value people to treat them with respect at all times.

Do not take advantage of people.  Employees are not your servants and should not be expected to perform personal services for you.  If you delegate tasks, make sure there is value in it for them, either in enhanced compensation or a genuine learning opportunity.

Demonstrate the common decencies of human interaction in all your dealings.  Be kind and courteous.  Give your people the benefit of the doubt.  Don’t be quick to take offense or become upset.  Maintain control of your temper and reaction to events.

Thank employees often.  How easy is it to say “Thank you”?  It costs nothing and it reaps great rewards.  The only requirement is that it must be sincerely given.

Say goodbye at the end of the day or shift.  A farewell is a common courtesy that you would extend to family and friends, if for no other reason than as an acknowledgement of departure.  The members of your work team, who you depend on for your success, should receive no less a courtesy.  Again, the need for sincerity is absolute.

American poet and author Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Value your people and they will be willing and committed participants in your quest for quality and service.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line- The Workbook, Ed Rehkopf, Clarity Publications, 2009

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking managers throughout the country and around the world.

Leading Change

August 7th, 2019

Amin came to work for me as the Restaurant Manager in an historic university-owned hotel.  He faced many challenges, not the least of which was the fact that the restaurant was losing money and badly needed repositioning.

He attacked the problem with enthusiasm and energy, and he promptly ran into a buzz saw of opposition.  It seems that many of his customers, including several academics who were powerful shapers of university opinion, thought the existing operation was just fine.

While surprised by their reaction to his plans, Amin developed a strategy to win them to his cause.  He actively courted them, made appointments for office visits, listened to many nostalgic tales of meals gone by, but also heard in all the conversation their distinct desire to maintain the restaurant as a quiet, dignified place where ideas could be discussed over a good, reasonably-priced meal.

He then enlisted a respected professor’s wife and interior designer with a deep sense of university tradition to prepare designs to renovate the restaurant.  He also formed a focus group of key individuals to communicate menu preferences to the Chef.  As the plans began to take shape he was careful to keep his many advisers abreast of developments.

Amin also took great pains to involve the food service staff in his planning and designs.  Not only were their suggestions helpful, but they looked forward to the repositioning with proprietary interest.

Finally, the day came when the restaurant was closed for renovation.  During the three-week closure, a number of our “advisers” stopped by to see how the project was coming.  Most made reservations for re-opening day so they could bring friends and colleagues to see the results of “their work.”

Needless to say, the re-opening was a great success.  Certainly, there were some minor glitches, but the pride and good feeling of our many active participants carried the day.

As this example suggests, a lot of mistakes can be prevented if you take the time to completely think through the ramifications of planned changes.

  • Attempt to understand the impact of proposed changes on all elements of the organization and customers alike.
  • Change can be threatening to employees.  They sometimes do not understand that change can also be an opportunity.  Reassure them.  Much of how change is viewed is attitudinal and can be influenced by the manner in which you, as the leader, approach it.
  • Enact change in a manner that lessens the threat to employees.  Lead your staff through change.  Make sure they understand the reasons for the change and whatever new goals you have.  Brief them thoroughly on new policies or procedures.
  • New processes also impact your customers, so make sure you communicate changes to them.  Start well in advance of the proposed changes and “sell” new services and procedures to your customers.
  • Change isn’t any good unless it works.  Evaluate change and analyze the effectiveness of new systems, policies, and procedures.  Corrections and modifications will inevitably be necessary.  Do not be afraid to admit that things aren’t going as planned or hoped.  Intervene as necessary.  Stay focused and committed until all the bugs are worked out.
  • Communicate well and thoroughly throughout the period of change.  Fear feeds on itself and can get out of hand quickly.  In the absence of information, employees will usually assume the worst.  Listen to their fears and try to allay them.
  • A leader must exude confidence and enthusiasm for change.  Be supportive of the change even if you don’t agree with it.  Leaders usually have opportunities to express disagreement with proposed changes.  Once a decision is made, though, support the idea as if it were your own.  Never disparage the change in front of your employees.  You will doom it to failure.

Work to create an environment where change occurs naturally and the process of change thrives.  It can be essential to your success.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – A Guide for Front Line Supervisors, Business Owners and Emerging Leaders, 2d Edition, Ed Rehkopf, Clarity Publications, 2006

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking managers throughout the country and around the world.

Consequences

July 22nd, 2019

Albert Einstein said, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.”

Always keep in mind the consequences of your own behavior as a leader:

  • If you are not loyal to your employees, they will not be loyal to you.
  • If you do not respect your employees, they will respond in kind.
  • If you don’t care about your employees, they won’t care about you or your endeavors.
  • If you don’t look out for their interests, they won’t look out for yours.
  • If you don’t treat your employees with respect, they will not treat you or our members with respect.
  • If you are abusive to employees, the good ones will leave; only the poor ones will stay.
  • Remarkable service is all about attitude; treating employees badly fosters bad attitudes.

“A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.”  – Unknown

Your example sets the standard for all your employees.  Don’t blame them if they don’t have high standards.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking managers throughout the country and around the world.

Becoming a Service-based Leader

July 7th, 2019
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Developing leadership skills is not memorizing a list of things to do or not to do, though such lists are useful in helping students learn.  Leadership is not the accumulation of managerial abilities, such as budgeting, computer skills, or the specific work skills of a particular industry, though such aptitudes will certainly enhance your overall skill set and add to your competence.  Leadership is not a position or a title.

Successful leadership depends on the quality of relationships between a leader and followers.  As such it entails relationship skills – the personal characteristics and abilities to connect with and inspire the enthusiastic efforts of a diverse group of people toward a common goal.

True leadership requires an understanding of what makes people tick – individually and in group settings.  It requires sensitivity to the needs and desires of others, even when they may not be able to adequately define or communicate these themselves.  It requires openness and accessibility so followers are comfortable bringing their concerns and issues to the leader.  It requires a person who is self-analytical, who examines every less-than-optimum outcome for improvement, often discovering a better way to interact with followers.  It requires a person who puts the needs of the enterprise ahead of personal ambition, who recognizes that tending to the group welfare in a disciplined way will ultimately bring about better performance.

Finally, learning leadership skills is not a one-time event.  Just as different endeavors and levels of organizations require different skill sets for managerial success, leadership skills must expand and develop as the individual moves up to higher levels of responsibility.  Satisfactory leadership skills in a front line supervisory position are clearly inadequate for the challenges of a general manager, division manager, or president of a company.  But the skills learned in the early years of one’s career will be the foundation for the broader skills necessary when one takes on greater responsibilities, particularly if you understand that true leadership is a lifelong journey, not a destination.

The Single Most Important Requirement to Becoming a Service-Based Leader

Becoming a Service-Based Leader is a transformative process; it’s about personal growth.  The student must be prepared to challenge ingrained attitudes and beliefs about self and others.  It requires a willingness to closely examine motivations and habits.  The emerging leader must also be willing to accept personal responsibility for his or her life and decisions.  But most of all it requires a great deal of personal honesty.  Self-delusion and denial are the committed enemies of personal growth.

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As you progress through The Workbook, make a promise to yourself.  Promise that you will search the depths of your being to get to and understand your deepest motivations, not those that you glibly repeat because you have so often heard others say them and think they’re the norm.  True leadership is not the norm, and becoming an effective leader will require you to step outside your comfort zone and confront the beliefs and attitudes you hold, not from conviction but from unexamined habit.

The Rewards of Service-Based Leadership

Developing the skills of a Service-Based Leader will reward you in a variety of ways.  First and foremost, I believe the foundation of Service-Based Leadership and a recognition of the value of people in all you do, can, over the course of a career, lead you to the Level 5 Leadership that Jim Collins found at the top of all Good to Great companies.

Second, because Service-Based Leadership is all about developing successful relationships, it can bring success to other parts of your life – your family relationships, your friendships, and the way you interact with people wherever you meet them.

Lastly, Service-Based Leadership will help you develop the self-analytical skills to examine life’s challenges and better understand how you react to them.  Ultimately, it will help you to grow as a person and learn to face difficulties with greater equanimity and purpose.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, Ed Rehkopf, Clarity Publications, 2009

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking managers throughout the country and around the world.

The Essence of Leadership: Building Strong Relationships

June 23rd, 2019

Maggie was a retired schoolteacher starting a second career.  She applied for a sales associate position with a well-known hotel and conference center.  While she had no sales experience, her maturity, calm demeanor, and articulate style impressed the Director of Sales.

The position of sales associate is challenging.  In addition to selling the facility and its services to the local community and industry, it is important to have a good working relationship with the hotel’s operating departments.  Ultimately, they are the ones who must execute the promises of the sales staff.

In short order, Maggie proved adept at winning new business for the hotel.  She had a knack for meeting new people and establishing a sense of trust.  Much of it came from her genuine, down-to-earth nature.  She was short on hype and easy promises, but long on establishing meaningful relationships built upon commitment, confidence, and trust.  Her clients knew that she was true to her word.

But as strong as she was in finding new business, she was even stronger at building those key relationships with hotel department heads and line employees enabling her to ensure that promises were kept and expectations met.  Inevitably things would fall through the cracks and some meeting room was not set up properly for one of her clients.  Maggie, because she always double-checked arrangements, would find the problem and seek help to correct it.  Because she had taken the time to develop good working relations with the housekeeping, maintenance, and banquet staffs, she never had problems finding someone willing to help.  As one porter said of her, “She always asks so nicely, there is no way to say no.”

Maggie was an outstanding success as a sales associate.  In two years she increased her hotel bookings by 18.3%, and more importantly, trend lines promised even more future business from her many satisfied clients.  Not surprisingly, when the Director of Sales was transferred to another property out of state, Maggie was asked by her General Manager to take over the position.

Your success in balancing the needs of those you serve lies in ensuring that you build strong relationships with individuals.  How do you do this?  Begin by:

  • Treating everyone you meet with courtesy, respect, and good cheer.
  • Focusing on each person you deal with as if he or she were the most important person in the world.
  • Taking the time to get to know people; sharing your time and attention with them.
  • Learning about other people’s jobs and the challenges and difficulties they face.
  • Keeping promises and following through on commitments.
  • Being principled, showing fairness, and demonstrating integrity.
  • Recognizing the ultimate value of people in all you do.

Relationships depend upon how you view yourself in relation to others.  If you see yourself as separate and apart from your constituencies, if you view others as the means to your end, if your vision and goals lack a broader purpose than your own needs and ambitions, establishing meaningful relationships will be impossible.  On the other hand, when you see yourself as part of a team with a shared mission, then a sense of service will be an intrinsic part of your service team relationships.

The difference is your attitude, your motives, and your approach to dealing with others.  Since all of these things are within your power to change, establishing a service-based approach to leadership by building strong relationships is totally up to you.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line:  A Guide for Front Line Supervisors, Business Owners and Emerging Leaders, Ed Rehkopf, Clarity Publications, 2006

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking managers throughout the country and around the world.