Because of my interest in military history, I frequently come across the impact of leadership as the essential ingredient and foundation for winning military campaigns. I recently finished reading General Eisenhower’s Crusade in Europe recounting the Allied military efforts in Europe in World War II.
His perspective is unique in that, as the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the European Theater, Eisenhower’s authority eventually encompassed 3 million men and women from over a dozen countries in both fighting and support roles on land, sea, and in the air. The enterprise itself was, in size and scope, the greatest single endeavor of the 20th Century – the defeat of Hitler and the Axis Powers.
While military leadership is distinct in purpose – the winning of wars; the broader role of inspiring and directing followers to the accomplishment of a goal or venture is universal in application and entails the same needs that we as club managers face daily in directing a service organization – how to get the best from our workers.
Among the many lessons to be learned in Eisenhower’s book is the following quote,
“There is, among the mass of individuals who carry rifles in war, a great amount of ingenuity and initiative. If men can naturally and without restraint talk to their officers, the products of their resourcefulness become available to all. Moreover, out of the habit grows mutual confidence, a feeling of partnership that is the essence of esprit de corps.”
This observation resonated with my firm belief that an open and unimpeded flow of information up from employees to the leaders is just as important as the direction and guidance that goes from the top of the organization to its line staff. This exchange of ideas and information can only come about when leaders at every level inherently recognize that such openness is a critical success factor for the organization.
But senior leadership must understand that this recognition does not spring by happy and universal coincidence from the minds and consciousness of subordinate managers – it must be taught and modeled continually and consistently to everyone who fills a leadership role. Without this effort, the critical concepts of success will not be faithfully communicated to those who serve the club’s members and, conversely, the ideas and innovation of front line employees will never reach the decision makers. The end result is a lack of mutual confidence and that spirit of partnership so essential to any effective group effort.
Bottom Line: To be successful in the challenging world of club management and to avoid organizational dysfunction, a leader needs every conceivable advantage. None is so important as good leadership and its attendant openness to ideas and innovation. In the words of Bill Robinson, noted business, technology, and entrepreneurship journalist, “To be able to regularly solicit, capture and execute upon the strong ideas of those on the front lines who really know what the customers want will be the panacea for the 21st century business world.”
Thanks and have a great day!
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 hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.
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