Archive for September, 2011

Leadership: Respect, Not Like

Monday, September 26th, 2011

One of the basic tenets of leadership is that being a leader is not a popularity contest.  Leaders need to make tough, often unpopular, decisions and can’t be swayed by group opinions.  It is often said that followers don’t have to like their leader; they just have to respect him.

There is truth in these maxims which are wonderfully dramatized in the classic World War II movie, Twelve O’Clock High, a film widely used to teach leadership principles.  Gregory Peck, in the starring role, plays General Frank Savage, an Army Air Corps officer sent to take temporary command of an under-performing and demoralized bomber squadron.

Another movie that touches on the same themes is Hoosiers, in which Gene Hackman plays a disgraced college basketball coach, Norman Dale, who comes to small town Indiana to coach a high school basketball team.  His focus on the fundamentals of the game, unorthodox style, and early season losses turn the town against him, but he ultimately prevails by winning the state championship, becoming the smallest school ever to win the title.

The lead characters in both of these movies followed leaders who were popular with their subordinates, but both Frank Savage and Norman Dale were more interested in gaining respect for their initiatives and for eventual success, not whether they were popular or liked.

Yet there are many things that a successful leader does to ensure success that are both appreciated and liked by their followers.  Consider that most people:

  • Like to do a good job and take pride in their work.
  • Like to know that what they do contributes.
  • Like to receive feedback on their efforts.
  • Like to know the major decisions that affect their organization, their work, and their jobs.
  • Like a tough, but fair and consistent boss; one who demands excellence of himself and others.
  • Like to understand the big picture.
  • Like to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Like to work for a competent and dynamic boss.
  • Like to be properly trained to do their job.
  • Like to have an interest taken in them as individuals.
  • Like to work for a successful and efficiently operated enterprise.

So workers may not like their boss in the sense of being a buddy, but they certainly respect a boss who by the exercise of strong leadership improves their work life, recognizes their efforts, and makes their enterprise successful.

Do the rights things as a leader and your followers will respect and admire you – which, in the final analysis, is far more important and gratifying than liking you!

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Expectations

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Unless your employees inhabit some alternate reality, one in which every employee intrinsically understands the multi-dimensional requirements of service and has telepathic powers to know how you want them to function at all times, you as a general manager must spell out your expectations for them.

This is particularly so for your management team.  Regardless of background, education, and work experience, you must ensure that they know what you expect of them in all situations.  Further, to ensure consistency in the operation and how employees interact with members, managers must have a common understanding of the club’s standards, policies, and procedures.  This means that you must communicate in detail your expectations for the following:

  • Leadership
  • How members and employees are valued and treated
  • Organizational values
  • Club culture and service standards
  • Club and departmental organization
  • Operational disciplines
  • Training, and
  • Performance

Without making the effort define expectation in these critical areas, the club will operate as a collection of tribes, each reflecting the dedication, performance, and example of its manager.  Such an operation will be disorganized and conflicted – incapable of rendering consistent service and value to its members.

Any general manager with any length of experience and time to reflect upon the realities of our industry will know this to be true, yet who has the time to spell out such a large, complex, and interconnected set of expectations while dealing with the day-in, day-out challenges of a busy hospitality operation?

It is for this reason that, at the culmination of a long career in hotels, resorts, and private clubs, I have attempted to define the expectations I have for those who report to me.  While these expectations reflect my approach to leadership and management and may not apply in every case, I believe they offer a large number of proven best practices for any manager who wishes to develop employees to their fullest potential and provide high levels of service.

Click here to review a sample of What I Expect from My Club Management Team.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Touch Point Tactics

Monday, September 12th, 2011

In war the generals plan the strategy, unit commanders establish plans to shape the battle, and front line leaders set and direct the tactics to wage the fight.  In our business the board and General Manager set the direction and standards of the club, but it’s the department heads and front line supervisors who figure out how best to implement at the point of contact with members and guests.

The term “touch point” refers to those critical moments and events that shape and define a customer’s impression of service and service delivery.  Also called “moments of truth,” touch points are defined as “a critical or decisive time or event on which much depends; a crucial moment.”  But no matter what they are called, if a club is to be a service leader, it must consistently get the touch points right and it’s up to the club’s junior leaders to plan, train, and direct front line employees to flawlessly execute each of these service opportunities.

Most club departments have a limited number of touch points, probably less than ten.  The food and beverage department has considerably more due to the intensive interaction with members during food service.  Regardless of number, it’s up to department heads to identify and establish standards for each touch point – even to go so far as scripting and rehearsing employees’ touch point roles.

So what are the steps in planning touch point tactics?  Here’s a basic list for department heads:

  • Identify members’ needs and expectations from the club.
  • Carefully review departmental interfaces with members and identify all touch points.
  • Prioritize touch points based on service impact and impression.
  • Spell out in detail the optimum manner for employees to execute each touch point.
  • Script, train, and rehearse employees to consistently execute touch points.
  • Revise and refine touch point execution based on feedback from employees.

Points of caution:

  • Train employees to avoid robot-like, lockstep execution.  Employees must be comfortable enough in their roles to improvise according to the dictates of the moment and situation.  Everything they do must be comfortable and personal – that’s why it’s so important to empower your staff.
  • Managers must encourage and act upon feedback from employees.  The people who have direct service contact with members are in the best position to determine what works and what doesn’t.

Bottom Line:  As with managing any other critical aspect of the operation, touch point tactics must be well-developed and executed to achieve the desired effects.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Two Important Leadership Lessons

Monday, September 5th, 2011

When I first joined the military, I was drilled repeatedly that the proper answer for any questioned failure was “No excuse, Sir!”While this response seemed to be a martinet-like reply when being chewed out for poorly-shined shoes, an unpolished belt buckle, or for failing to accomplish some impossible task, the underlying message was an important one – that there is no excuse for failure.

Properly understood it means that there is always more that I, as a leader, could have done to succeed – I could have paid closer attention, devoted more resources, better juggled the demands upon my time and attention, done a better job of planning or preparing, selected better teammates or subordinates, delegated more or better, supervised closer, or any other more appropriate action or initiative that would have ensured success.

The concept of no excuse for failure is an important one in fighting wars, running companies, or any other important or worthwhile endeavor.Further, the concept of no excuses implies that you cannot blame others for your failures – there is always something more you could have done.Wouldn’t such a sense of personal responsibility be a breath of fresh air in the current economic crisis where highly-paid executives and CEOs take little or no responsibility for their organization’s failures?

The second lesson the military taught is that a leader is responsible for everything his unit does or fails to do.While this lesson is closely tied to “no excuse for failure,” it brings some important distinctions with it – that no matter what role others are supposed to play in the endeavor – it is the leader who is ultimately responsible for the outcome.

Some examples to illustrate the point:Too often, managers wash their hands of personnel issues because they have an HR department.The same is true when the company has a training department or is provided training materials.Suddenly, the manager is no longer responsible for the training outcome because “someone else is responsible for training.”Such attitudes set the manager up for failure.

Remembering that “you can delegate authority, but not responsibility,” the manager must take personal responsibility to ensure that not only he or she is knowledgeable about HR issues and labor laws, but that all subordinate managers are as well.Likewise, the manager must be intimately familiar with training materials and whether subordinate managers are properly training front line employees.To do otherwise is to avoid the very responsibilities for which a manager is hired.

While these leadership lessons from the military may seem overly stringent, even harsh, they are, in fact, the essence of leadership – taking personal responsibility.If anyone doubts this, just ask any NFL coach what leadership standard he is held to.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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