Why Service-Based Leadership Matters

May 4th, 2019

Service-Based Leaders have to balance the needs of the customers, their employees, the business and themselves. It is a lot to handle, particularly for new leaders. Leadership on the Line – The Workbook by Ed Rehkopf is not a rehashed list of stagnant advice. The Workbook is an interactive experience that allows readers to assess their individual needs to cultivate their employee relationships, customer service and leadership skills.

What sets The Workbook apart from other leadership guides is the intense level of self-analysis that it provides. This book helps readers learn about the motivations behind their behavior. It provides advice on how to build a leadership foundation based on character traits and interpersonal relationships. The book can be used as self-study or as part of a guided instruction.

It is important to note that this book is the most effective for those who are willing to honestly examine their beliefs and behaviors. Skimming through the text without participating in the exercises will not be as beneficial to the reader. The more a person puts into The Workbook, the greater the outcome will be.

Strong leadership is dependent upon strong relationships. One of the first exercises in The Workbook helps the reader to determine who his or her constituencies are. Creating a list of people who depend upon you is the first step to figuring out their needs and how you can best meet those needs. The Workbook teaches the reader how to nurture the relationships with all constituencies in order to improve employee and customer relations.

The Workbook also examines the relationship between the reader and his or her boss. Being a Service-Based Leader does not give a person free reign, so this portion of the book is particularly helpful. The Workbook asserts that you are responsible for your boss’s opinion of you. By considering what can be done to help manage your boss, The Workbook helps readers enhance their relationships with their superiors.

The strength of The Workbook is how much ground it covers in under one hundred pages. It addresses everything from engagement and accountability to standards and policies with the same honest introspection. Moreover, the lessons learned in this book can help people in any stage of their career path. Newly hired leaders can use The Workbook to appraise their strengths and weaknesses and help them develop their managerial style. Established leaders can use the book to reexamine the way that they work and how it affects the people around them.

Since The Workbook is so personal, it fosters different results for each individual. Ed Rehkopf created a work that helps people customize their leadership approach. The Workbook guides readers into having reasons behind their actions instead of acting solely out of habit. The book explains that there isn’t one particular way to be a leader. Different strategies will work for different people, and The Workbook celebrates that fact. Ed Rehkopf teaches that leadership isn’t something a person just has. Leadership must be developed, and The Workbook is a powerful tool to help people do just that.

Reviewed by Erin

Leadership – Consistency and Common Decency

April 20th, 2019

In addition to possessing integrity and demonstrating competence, leaders must also be consistent in their values and vision.  Such consistency requires a foundation of principles for one’s actions and a well-developed guide for how to proceed.  Followers will quickly lose confidence in an erratic leader or one without a clear and compelling vision.

Being consistent does not in any way imply rigidity or inflexibility in your thinking, planning, or execution.  A hallmark of leadership is the recognition that we operate in a fluid world where everything changes all the time.  As German military theorist von Moltke said, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”  The same could be said for any plan and the constantly unfolding realities faced by every enterprise.

When a leader demonstrates consistent values and a persistent pursuit of well-defined objectives, followers can feel confident in their leader and the direction he is taking them.  An unpredictable leader, who bounces from one initiative to another and whose plans, performance, and behavior are constantly changing, creates a situation much like the Doom Loop described by Jim Collins in Good to Great.

“The comparison companies followed a different pattern, the doom loop.  Rather than accumulating momentum, turn by turn of the flywheel, they tried to skip buildup and jump immediately to breakthrough.  Then, with disappointing results, they’d lurch back and forth, failing to maintain consistent direction.”

Employees can deal with some agenda changes from senior management, but continually changing initiatives sap them of their enthusiasm and willingness to adapt.  This is particularly so when they are not involved in decision-making and they are not treated as if they matter.

This brings us to common decency and how followers are treated.  While every person may have his or her own conception of what is decent, common decency encompasses those behaviors considered to be the ideal in human intercourse.  Among them are:

  • Respect – regard or consideration for others and their needs.
  • Sensitivity – heightened awareness to needs and concerns of others.
  • Courtesy – polite behavior, respect, consideration, helpfulness.
  • Kindness – goodwill, generosity, charity, and sympathy toward others.
  • Generosity of Spirit – absence of meanness or smallness of mind or character.

When a leader demonstrates these behaviors in his dealings with all constituents, it naturally creates strong, trusting relationships.  Once again, though, consistency is essential.  A leader cannot be kind one day and callous the next and expect his constituents to trust him.

As children we are taught the common decency of the Golden Rule-treating others as we wish to be treated.  But as we grow older we are often faced with stressful situations and unpleasant people who cause us to develop our own defensive responses and disagreeable behaviors.

Yet, just as these habits were learned over time, they can be unlearned by conscious effort.  While we cannot control what happens to us, we can control our reactions to events.  Making the effort to treat others well will go a long way toward building meaningful relationships with all constituents.

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.

Leadership – Charisma and Trust

April 7th, 2019

People often speak of an especially effective leader’s charisma – that somewhat mysterious ability to connect with people in a profound and moving way.  We can all think of leaders, usually on the national or international stage, who possessed charisma.  Some names that come to mind include Eleanor Roosevelt, with her quick wit and commitment to social equity, and Ronald Reagan, called the “Great Communicator” for his skill in connecting with people.  More recently we recognize Oprah Winfrey and her engaging manner with people from all walks of life and Martin Luther King Jr. for his soaring oratory and message of nonviolent change.

While charisma can add to a leader’s skill set, it must be based upon a foundation of trust.  Without earned and merited trust, a charismatic personality is little more than a con artist.

Two important ways to gain and hold the trust of followers and other constituents is to demonstrate both integrity and competence in all you do.

Integrity is not simply honesty, though truth and truthfulness are significant parts of it.  Ultimately integrity is being true to yourself and your beliefs.  The dictionary defines integrity as “the adherence to moral or ethical principles.”  This implies that one’s actions match her words – that she does what she says she will do regardless of consequences, that she has a moral compass that guides her in all instances, that she can be counted on to do the right thing.  At the end of the day, a person who has integrity can be trusted by others in all situations.

In addition to possessing integrity a leader must demonstrate competence.  No one wants to follow someone who is inept, no matter what authority he may possess.  In fighting wars a follower’s life may depend upon it.  During the Civil War a fellow officer said of Gen. Nathaniel Banks that it was murder to send soldiers out under him.  While this political appointee of President Lincoln had the authority to command, he clearly did not possess the competence to lead.

The U.S. Marine Corps in its Fundamentals of Marine Corps Leadership tells its aspiring leaders that they must be technically and tactically proficient.  To develop this ability, they are told to “seek a well-rounded [professional] education” and to “seek out and associate with capable leaders.  [To] observe and study their actions.”  Lastly, Marines are told to prepare themselves for the job of leader at the next higher rank.  This advice applies to leadership in any situation or endeavor.

By cultivating and demonstrating both integrity and competence in all you do, you will gain the trust of your followers.  While only a gifted few possess natural charisma, it may be argued that it is not required for the smaller arenas in which most of us labor.  Yet as you continue to grow and nurture your leadership skills through practice and experience, you may discover that your followers consider your leadership to be charismatic.  As with beauty, charisma is in the eye of the beholder.

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.

Enhance Your Financial Reporting with the Executive Metrics Report

March 18th, 2019

Every month the club board, finance committee, general manager, and department heads receive copies of the club’s financial statement made up of the balance sheet and operating statement prepared by the club controller.  The intent is to provide all stakeholders with a summary report of the club’s financial performance.  Additionally, the operating statement is formatted to compare the most recent month’s performance to the same month last year and year-to-date performance compared to last year. While all this is well and good and customary for the industry, this summary information is long on overview, but woefully short on meaningful detail.  Further, the presentation of information does little to allow discovery and analysis of emerging trends.

Certainly a greater level of detail is available within the financial accounting and reporting system, but it requires special effort to dig it out, format it, and present it for analysis.  Given this, doesn’t it make far more sense to use a system that routinely presents key underlying detail?  Examples would include sales detail such as volume of business and average sale by department, key payroll detail such as overtime hours and benefits cost, membership numbers by category, and month-to-month and year-to-year comparisons of summary operating statement lines.

The simple solution to providing a deeper level of information for ease of analysis is to make the Executive Metrics Report (EMR) a key component of the monthly financial reporting package.  The EMR is made up of important operating metrics tracked by the financial accounting and payroll systems, along with key department benchmarks, both of which are formatted to provide month by month and year by year comparisons.

While every general manager and club board may have their own ideas of what metrics to include, Club Resources International has developed an Executive Metrics Report that covers key operating data.  Each club can take this basic format and customize it for their own needs and preferences.  Click here to see a sample Executive Metrics Report.  The EMR spreadsheet can be found on the CRI website under Club Operations > Resources > Benchmarks > Benchmark Spreadsheets.

The Executive Metrics Report is a significant enhancement to a club’s financial reporting and provides all stakeholders with important and timely data regarding the health and financial well-being of their club.  While it takes some effort to set up initially, the ongoing benefits for all concerned make it well worth the effort.

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.

Do You Know What Your Club Management System Can Do?

March 4th, 2019

Club management systems have come a long way since their inception as point of sale, accounting, and financial reporting tools.  Over the years various upgrades have added timekeeping, payroll, and tee time systems; member relationship management tools; custom reporting formats; dashboards for key metrics; the ability to drill down to data entry detail; member websites and online activities sign ups; and even more powerful analysis of member spending habits.  Such improvements have gone a long way toward providing club boards and management teams with timely, accurate, and actionable intelligence about their club’s operations and performance.

My own fantasy is that someday a club management system will include everything a manager could possibly need to efficiently operate the club in one convenient, easy-to-access location.  Items that I would want to see include:  budgeting tools and templates; work planning and performance review modules; human resource information systems; detailed benchmarking by department; a server-based customizable operations plan with departmental standards, policies, and procedures (SPPs); training and professional development material for employees and managers; and training administration software. Several years ago while attending a Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals chapter meeting as a guest speaker, I mentioned my fantasy to a sales representative for a club management system provider and was somewhat surprised by his response that in today’s feature-rich software, the great majority of features went unused by club operators.  In reflecting upon his statement I’ve come up with four possible reasons this might be so:

  1. The club’s leadership and decision makers – those key people who set the club’s agenda and drive operational expectations, such as the general manager, boards and finance committee members, and controller – don’t fully understand the capabilities of their club management system.
  2. While they may have reviewed the system’s features at one time and have a vague notion of its capabilities, they have neither the time nor the focus to implement routine use of key features.
  3. Ongoing turnover of key people can cause a lack of the awareness of software features.
  4. Without written accounting standards, policies, and procedures there is a lack of continuity in key accounting and financial reporting practices.  When the club’s operational practices are based on oral history instead of clearly delineated SPPs, things get lost over time.

To confirm my suspicions I spoke with Vache Hagopian, at the time Director of Marketing for Jonas Software, the largest supplier of club management systems.  He agreed with my basic assessments and quoted Bill Gates who said, “Most software upgrades/purchases are made to acquire features which were already available in their current software.”  This certainly doesn’t speak well for a management team’s knowledge and understanding of their software’s capabilities.

I then asked how a software company addresses this lack of understanding.  Mr. Hagopian indicated it was an ongoing challenge – one which Jonas works hard to overcome.  “First,” he said, “we offer a variety of training options to ensure client clubs are well-trained and understand all the features of their system.”  These include:

  • On-site personal training provided by accredited trainers,
  • One-on-one e-training with club employees which is a cost-effective method of training, and
  • Group e-training with monthly course updates. This is the most cost-effective way to train in that clubs can have as many staff members participate as they like.

Mr. Hagopian said that his company offers the Jonas Utilization Review process, which is conducted over the phone by one of their system specialists, providing a complete overview of a club’s software and education needs. The result offers an in depth report of the club’s software utilization and includes recommendations for software configuration, optimal usage and reporting, and proactive services needed for skill development. The specialist then assesses training and support needs, while developing a plan to meet the club’s specific objectives. Finally, the specialist outlines targeted training courses and appropriate resources to help equip the club’s staff with the skills and product knowledge to successfully carry out their daily work.

As much as some club managers may wish for a completely integrated club management system with everything they need to efficiently operate their clubs in one place, it seems probable that, as Bill Gates said, many of the features we want, we already have.

Bottom Line:  Conscientious club leaders and controllers should do annual reviews of their club management systems to determine if they are getting the most and best information out of their software package.

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.

Eight Steps to Performance Accountability

February 17th, 2019

The greatest failure in performance management in any enterprise is the failure to hold managers accountable for their performance.  Many clubs do a poor job in the area of accountability.  This failure is crippling to the long term health and viability of the club.  Here are eight steps to help measure performance and hold managers accountable:

Work Plans.  Have each manager prepare an annual work plan spelling out goals, proposed accomplishments, and timelines for completion of each item.  It’s always a good idea to involve managers in preparing their own work plans though these must be based upon broad guidelines from the board and general manager.  While their buy-in is important to their commitment to their individual plans, ultimately plans must meet the needs and desires of the board and general manager.

Budgets.  In order for managers of profit or cost centers to be held accountable for meeting budgets, they must participate in developing their own budgets.  An unrealistic budget will defeat a manager from the get-go, but “softball” budgets cannot be accepted either.  One of the best ways to budget is to use volume and average sale/hourly wage benchmarks to build the revenue and payroll parts of the budget.  Not only do historical metrics make for more accurate budgets, but analyzing these benchmarks on an ongoing basis makes for a better understanding of shortfalls in revenue or overages in payroll costs.

Benchmarks.  Club departments must be benchmarked in detail – at a minimum revenues, cost of goods, payroll, and other operating expenses should be benchmarked monthly.  These and other benchmarks are the most objective measures for holding managers accountable.

Real Time Accounting. Use the Tools to Beat Budget program whereby all managers with bottom line responsibility track their revenues and/or expenses in real time, thereby exercising greater control over their budget and financial performance.  Properly maintaining the Tools to Beat Budget binder provides all the information necessary for in-depth monthly reviews of performance by the General Manager and other interested parties.

Monthly Review Meetings.  Hold monthly meetings with individual department heads to review progress on annual plans, actual to budget performance, benchmarks, and efforts to correct operational and performance deficiencies.  These meetings permit ongoing review and course corrections or added emphasis as necessary.

Routine Departmental Inspections.  Use routine inspections with a standardized checklist to inspect all club operating areas on an ongoing basis.  Such inspections should monitor and note cleanliness, order, maintenance, safety, security, and other signs of organized and efficient operations.  These inspections when standardized, scored, and benchmarked provide an ongoing measure of these basics of an operation.

Interdepartmental Support Evaluations.  Since all departments of a club are interrelated and depend upon one another for peak performance, each department head should fill out standardized evaluations on interdepartmental support and cooperation.  As an example:  the accounting department will have a hard time meeting its requirements if operating departments do not submit coded invoices, payroll data, inventories, benchmarks, and other financial data in a timely fashion.  If department heads know that their performance in these areas is being monitored and rated, they will put greater emphasis in meeting these requirements.

Performance Reviews.  Base periodic performance reviews for each manager on specific accomplishments and meeting well-defined performance measures.  Meaningful reviews are directly dependent upon the effort put into defining expectations, establishing specific work plans, and creating objective measures for accomplishment and performance.  While it takes some effort to set up a system of objective measures, the rewards for doing so are immense and well worth the effort.

Unless a General Manager does everything herself, she must rely on the efforts and performance of her subordinate managers.  But without measurable accountabilities she has no real means to drive her agenda, performance, and other initiatives to improve operations.  When department heads aren’t held accountable, only the General Manager will be.

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.

Super Service Employees

February 2nd, 2019

For those of us who eat out with any regularity, we’ve all had the experience, unfortunately too rarely, of being waited on by what I call a “super server.”  From the moment she approaches the table we know we’re in for a treat.  Sparkling with personality, she overflows with knowledge about the food, beverages, and accompaniments.  She immediately sizes up our interest in engagement and calibrates her contacts accordingly.  She speaks with confidence and authority, questioning us regarding our preferences and without hesitation recommending what she thinks we’ll enjoy.  The best of the best can unerringly take and serve orders without benefit of pen and dup pad – an ability that never ceases to amaze me. Such extraordinary individuals are worth their weight in gold.  Not only do they serve with flair and expertise, but they sell, thereby increasing the average check, while making a distinctly favorable impression of competence and professionalism that brings diners back again and again.  This is true in restaurants and just as true in private clubs where members appreciate the recognition and special touches that a super server adds to the dining experience.

Far more frequently, we’ve experienced the norm of service – undertrained, inexperienced employees who may understand the basics of service, but little more.  Often lacking in knowledge, personality, and attitude, their service may meet minimum expectations but seldom inspire the diner to sample the extras – appetizers, desserts, wines, and specialty drinks – that the kitchen works so hard to create and which enhance the overall dining experience.  If truth be told, these employees are doing no service to their employers and in many cases are doing outright harm by driving customers away.

The often repeated maxim for employers “to hire for personality and train for technique” encompasses a basic truth.  Attitude, personality, and engagement seem to be inborn skills and are difficult to teach.  While training can provide service skills and knowledge, thereby increasing a server’s confidence and maybe even engagement skills, the best service employees posses an indefinable quality that is difficult, if not impossible, to replicate.

Given the dearth of these extraordinary service employees, they should be recognized and compensated for the rare skills they possess.  Too often though, their presence on an employer’s staff is viewed as simple good fortune with little or no effort made to differentiate them from the common herd.  The result is that in short order they move on to greener pastures where their talents are more fully appreciated.  When this happens the loss to the establishment is often more than can be appreciated at the moment.  Not only has the employer lost a super server, but a money-maker, an ambassador, and an example for less accomplished co-workers.

And everything said about food servers applies as much to super service employees in retail, activities, golf, tennis, administration, and other areas of the club.

What can clubs do to attract and retain Super Service Employees?  By analyzing and considering the wants and needs of super service employees, it is possible to set up programs to attract and retain them.  In simplest terms it boils down to respect, status, meaningful work, and enhanced compensation.  In particular I would focus on the following:

  • Establishing consistent Service-Based Leadership at your club.  The underlying premise of Service-Based Leadership is leaders at all levels who recognize the essential task of serving all constituents, including employees.  Weak or self-serving managers will drive them away.
  • Implementing employee empowerment which is a natural extension of Service-Based Leadership.  Empowered employees are enlisted as partners in the club’s effort to improve the operation and provide high levels of service.  Super service employees want and need this enhanced participation and contribution.
  • Improving communications with employees.  All employees, but especially the super service ones, want to know what is going on and how the operation and direction of the club affects them.
  • Mentoring employees.  Curious and intelligent, super service employees appreciate the time and effort made in giving them the big picture and a deeper understanding of the workings of the club.
  • Creating “master” service positions that recognize higher skill levels and greater knowledge.  The job descriptions for these positions must clearly lay out those distinguishing skills, characteristics, and duties that warrant more responsibility and higher compensation.  Such master positions can then become the aspiration of new or less accomplished employees.
  • Creating a clear career path of knowledge, skill development, and certification which allows other employees to set their sights on the more highly regarded and compensated master level.
  • Assigning master level employees the task of teaching and training those who aspire to the higher level.  Such tasking serves the super service employees’ need for participation and contribution while improving the overall skill level of other employees.
  • Challenging super service employees to engage in creative project work such as taking a larger role in training, creating more effective training programs, formulating and executing member relationship management strategies, and establishing a “wow” factor program for members.
  • Recognizing and rewarding super service employees.  Ensuring they know they are appreciated.  This not only serves their needs, but demonstrates to other employees their value, thereby motivating others to follow their example.  Rewards should also be tangible, such as:  higher pay based on their higher levels of performance, incentive opportunities, preference in scheduling, and educational opportunities.
  • Providing benefits to all employees based on well-defined employment statuses, i.e., full time, part time, and seasonal or temporary.  At a minimum benefits should include holiday pay for designated holidays, vacation time, personal/sick time, health benefits, and retirement benefits.

As an industry we can no longer view employees as a disposable asset, which is what we do when we view ongoing turnover as a cost control measure.  Operating small, stand-alone hospitality organizations with multiple businesses, high levels of service, and lean management staffs covering long hours and weeks is too difficult a task to do without a stable, competent workforce.  When we view labor as a disposable, easily-replaceable commodity, we condemn ourselves to high levels of turnover with its attendant training costs, turmoil, and loss of organizational continuity.  High levels of turnover must be viewed as a critical organizational and leadership failure that is damaging in all ways to the club’s mission and operation.

None of these solutions is easy to implement and will certainly add costs to the club, but I believe the current employment paradigm is far more damaging to a club’s success and remains a significant “hidden” cost of operations.

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.

Mastering the ABCs

January 21st, 2019

As children we all mastered our ABCs, the basic building blocks of language and learning.  The term “ABCs” has long since come to signify the basics of any endeavor.

All of us who work in our industry recognize that the profession is made up of mastering the many basics of hospitality and service.  Even in an enterprise as seemingly complex as food service, it is the execution of the basics that underpin all our efforts and ultimately leads to success.

Of all the things I’ve learned in my hospitality career spanning over 35 years, the ultimate discipline of success is the necessity of executing the basics well.  Jim Collins’ research for his groundbreaking book, Good to Great, Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, pointed undeniably to “disciplined people taking disciplined action” as one of the prerequisites to any successful enterprise.

While there are many innovative, cutting-edge ideas to improve the products, service, and performance of your operation, you must build these enhancements onto a foundation of the basics.

With these thoughts in mind, I’d like to commend to you the most basic, yet ultimate tip for operating your club that as you contemplate the many ways to add service and value, you must always focus your attention and that of your entire staff on the ABCs, that is . . . Accomplish the Basics Consistently

Excerpted from 101 Tips to Improve Your Club Operations.

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.

Our Need to Serve

January 6th, 2019

Jim Collins says that people “want to be involved in something that just flat-out works,” but I believe it is something more.  I believe that people have a great need to connect with or serve something larger than themselves.  Whether it’s building a skyscraper, embarking on a campaign to eradicate hunger, working on the design of an award-winning advertising campaign, or even dressing in favorite NFL team colors and attending all the home games – people need to connect to a larger purpose or endeavor.

Great leaders understand this basic human need and have the ability to create that connection for their followers; unfortunately, not always to good purpose-witness Hitler’s rise to power and spell-binding hold on the German people or, in recent times, the illusion of success created by the leaders of ENRON before its financial collapse.

But the connection I am talking about need not be a life-altering cause or event.  Most of us live rather uneventful lives.  While our need is to earn a living and support our families, an astute leader recognizes the opportunity to create something out-of-the-ordinary – a special enterprise that performs better than others and is a source of purpose and pride for all.

In connecting people to the challenge of creating something special, the leader feeds the employees’ need to do something beyond self while advancing the purpose of the enterprise.  All that is necessary is for the leader to frame the challenge in terms of shared goals.  In the service industry this is a fairly simple task. Our purpose is to serve.  The quality of our service encourages customers and repeat business, which in turn ensures the success of the enterprise for the owners, and, ultimately, the job security and advancement opportunities of everyone involved.

Throughout my career, I have met many eager, enthusiastic young people, some just starting out their adult lives and relishing the opportunity of their first jobs.  Unfortunately for most, their youthful idealism is crushed pretty quickly by the realities of the workplace, particularly when they are not well-led, when they are not properly trained or supported, and when they are treated as if they didn’t matter.

At the same time, I’ve heard managers complain about the poor state of the labor pool and their inability to find decent employees who have commitment to their jobs.  Listening to such complaints I have to wonder what steps these individuals have taken to motivate their employees, to provide training and meaningful work experiences, to connect their workers’ labors to a larger effort.

To expect that the wide variety of applicants for positions will inherently know and understand a leader’s vision and the values that underlie the enterprise’s efforts is foolish.  All employees, whether first-time job seekers or those who have worked in a variety of jobs and settings, need the vision of connecting to a larger purpose, and they need a Service-Based Leader who can provide them the meaningful employment that serves their greater needs.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook.

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 100/0 Principle

December 22nd, 2018

Al Ritter has written a great little book, The 100/0 Principle, subtitled The Secret of Great Relationships.  While this may sound like any one of the score of self-help books published annually, one merely has to look at Mr. Ritter’s resume – MBA from Dartmouth, marketing and operations positions with Pepsico, CFO at Swift and Company, Senior VP for Citigroup, consulting for Accenture, and founding his own consulting company – to recognize that this short, simple, and easy-to-read book holds much promise for business leaders in any setting and level of organizational hierarchies.

I believe the simple concept at the heart of this book is arguably the single most important guarantor of success in any relationship, certainly in the personal arena, but beyond that in any organization or business enterprise. Such well-known leadership authors as John C. Maxwell, Brian Tracy, and Warren Blank have all recognized the central role of relationships in any attempt to lead.  As Maxwell said, “People who are unable to build solid, lasting relationships will soon discover that they are unable to sustain long, effective leadership.”

What Mr. Ritter so strikingly advocates in his book is that if you want any relationship to be successful, you must take 100% responsibility for the outcome while expecting nothing in return.  While this statement may seem shocking to some, I believe it is counter-intuitive wisdom of the highest order.  To examine why, consider the following statements relating to leadership:

  • A leader is responsible for his own success.
  • A leader is responsible for everything her organization does or fails to do.
  • In a free society, all but the most socially or economically disadvantaged followers have choice and can go elsewhere.
  • Meaningful relationships are based on trust.
  • Followers don’t automatically extend their trust to a leader; it must be earned.
  • As the one with the power and authority, the leader must take responsibility for establishing trust.
  • If, for whatever reason, a relationship with followers is not going well, a leader cannot expect or wait for others to fix it.
  • Ergo: He or she must take full responsibility for the relationship.

Mr. Ritter states and I believe that taking complete responsibility for your relationships and expecting nothing in return will yield vastly improved results in every arena of life.  His book offers concrete advice and steps, such as creative listening, suspending judgment, and unconditional acceptance, for readers to adjust their thinking and change their responses to difficult people, challenging situations, even “toxic” bosses.  While his experience with The 100/0 Principle has been mostly successful, he outlines a few situations where it doesn’t apply.  He also candidly admits that there are no guarantees that it will always work, but that in the majority of situations, dramatic results are achieved.

Roger Enrico, former Chairman and CEO of Pepsico said, “The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.” I can’t imagine that anyone who has attempted to lead would dispute this basic observation.  Read Al Ritter’s book – it offers a simple and straightforward approach to getting the soft stuff right!

The Book is: The 100/0 Principle:  The Secret of Great Relationships, Al Ritter, Simple Truths, LLC, Napierville, IL, 2010

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.