Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Lists of Tens

Monday, September 28th, 2015

David Letterman is famous for the Late Show Top Ten, a humorous compilation of 10 items usually relating to some prominent topic of the day.

Hospitality managers can also use lists of ten to uncover issues and opportunities as part of a process of continual improvement in their operations.  It’s a simple matter of asking employees to list their top ten “whatevers.”  Recognizing that employees are often the people most familiar with an organization’s challenges due to their intensive laboring in the details of the operation, I have found that asking for anonymous submissions will yield the most truthful and helpful information about what needs fixing or improved.

Managers must make it clear that it’s not required to list 10 items.  The purpose is not quantity, it’s to get answers regarding what’s troubling staff or customers/guests/members.  Here are some lists of ten examples:

  • Ask food servers for a list of their top ten complaints from customers.
  • Ask front desk staff for the top ten complaints from guests.
  • Ask housekeeping and maintenance staff for their top ten obstacles to completing their tasks efficiently.
  • Ask the bag, range, and cart attendants for their top ten ideas to provide better or higher levels of service to golfers.
  • Ask all employees for their top ten frustrations about working at the establishment.
  • Ask employees for their top ten ideas to wow customers.
  • Ask turn house and beverage cart attendants for the top ten snack items requested by golfers that aren’t carried in inventory.
  • Ask the accounting and HR staffs for their top ten frustrations with employee work and departmental submissions.

As can be seen, the list of ten questions can be far-ranging and cover any aspect of employees’ jobs and the challenges of service and service delivery.  The real benefit in posing such periodic questions to employees is that they often reveal unspoken issues and obstacles that make their jobs more frustrating.  It’s a simple matter to take the submitted lists, collate the results, and review for any consensus of opinions.  Often some of the issues raised are easily solved by a change in policy and procedures or some minor purchase.

Managers must always thank employees for their input and get back to them about any proposed action to address issues raised or ideas given.  It’s also important to let employees know if any of the issues will not or cannot be resolved and give the reasons why.

The ultimate purpose of the list of tens is to discover issues and opportunities in the operation.  Using periodic lists of ten and acting on the responses sends a powerful message to employees that their ideas and concerns will be listened to and, if possible, addressed.

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 hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

How Fares The Genius with a Thousand Helpers?

Monday, September 14th, 2015

I return once again to the profound and proven wisdom of Jim Collins’ Good to Great.  In his study of immensely successful publicly-traded companies and what made them great, he contrasted their performance to comparison companies – those of the same approximate size and markets in the same industries that did not achieve or sustain greatness.  Collins’ findings are all the more compelling because they are based on empirical evidence, not management theory or untested hypotheses.

Among his many findings (see the article The Book Every Hospitality Manager Should Read on the HRI website) was the prevalence of Level 5 Leadership in the good to great companies.  Many of the comparison enterprises, in contrast, followed a “genius with a thousand helpers” model.  These companies attained success, in some cases spectacular, based on the unique gifts and will power of the organization’s leader, but in the end were not able to sustain that success when the leader moved on.

The same pattern is often seen in small organizations such as private clubs where a new general manager is hired to make dramatic improvements or to turn the club around.  Because of the ever-present time factors and impatience of the Board and members, the leader by force of will implements the necessary changes but without investing the time to strengthen the subordinate management team.  While progress is made, the foundation had not been laid for long-term success.

When the “turnaround specialist” is hired away to a more prestigious position based on his or her accomplishments or when boredom sets in after the major initiatives are accomplished, the organization is left with a weak management team that depended too much on the genius’ direction and forceful personality instead of developing their own management disciplines and leadership abilities.  The end result for the club is an inability to consolidate their gains and an inevitable slide back into mediocrity and inconsistency.

In some situations the Board and membership inadvertently create the limiting environment where only the genius with many helpers model can be used by mandating such low compensation and benefits packages for the club’s department heads that a strong team cannot be built and maintained.  In other instances there is a failure of the General Manager to establish clear expectations and hold subordinates accountable for their performance that gives rise to this fatally flawed management model.

So what is a club Board or General Manager to do?

First:  In selecting a new general manager the Board should focus on a candidate that can produce long-term gains by building a disciplined organization and developing his or her subordinates.  As a member of the search committee, I would focus on the specifics of how to go about doing this and dig for satisfactory answers.  Facile responses and evasions, no matter eloquent or smooth, would disqualify any candidate.

Second:  As a potential general manager I would develop an explicit game plan to develop the necessary organizational building blocks for success (see The Quest for Remarkable Service for an example).  In interviews with search committees or headhunters I would explain in detail what is necessary, how I would proceed with implementation, and provide sample timelines with explicit deliverables or measures to chart and monitor progress.  Finally, I would ensure the search committee understands the requisite and realistic time and resources necessary to implement the plan.

For an incumbent general manager intent upon organizational turn around or renewal, I would use the same criteria to “sell” my plan to the Board.

Third:  Once hired or the plan approved, I would interview each department head in depth to ascertain background, experience, skill set, leadership abilities, and management disciplines for their position.  Then I would lay out in some detail my expectations (see What I Expect from My Club Management Team) for these key managers and establish a written work plan (see Expectations, Work Planning & Performance Reviews) with measurable accountabilities, timelines, milestones, and deliverables.  Over time I would hold them ever more strictly accountable for their performance.

Fourth:  I would expend significant effort in training, coaching (see Coaching Your Way to Excellence), and mentoring my subordinate managers.  The overall purpose of this is to identify who has the necessary desire to learn, will to succeed, enthusiasm for change, and work ethic.  Those that don’t demonstrate this level of interest and commitment should be encouraged to move on.

At the same time, I’d stress the need for all department heads to develop their assistants who show promise for greater responsibility and contribution.  The time and effort spent in developing the organizational depth of talent will yield both immediate and long term results.  For those departments without promising assistants, I would question the hiring rationale and methods of the department head.

Fifth:  Begin implementing the necessary management disciplines to better organize the operation.  See 10 Disciplines that Will Transform Your Operation for an overview of these.  Implementation will take time and a particular club’s needs will impact the priority of effort, but with steady focus, turn by turn of the flywheel, the club will achieve the breakthrough that will fundamentally transform the operation and achieve levels of quality, service, and success that, in retrospect, might have seemed unattainable.

In Good to Great Collins tells the story of Henry Singleton who, with single minded determination, founded and built Teledyne Corporation into a Fortune 500 company in five years based on his undeniable genius and drive.  Yet when he stepped away from the day-to-day management of the company, it began to fall apart.  Within 10 years without his guiding hand, Teledyne’s stock value had collapsed.  As Collins said, “Singleton achieved his childhood dream of becoming a great businessman, but he failed utterly at the task of building a great company.”

So what type of leader would you prefer to be – a Level 5 Leader or the Genius with Many Helpers?  The choice is yours – and you also own the results!

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 hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Consequences

Monday, August 31st, 2015

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 your customers/guests/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 hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

The Foundation of Service

Monday, August 24th, 2015

We have spoken before of the price of poor service, but the question arises for those intent upon establishing a strong and consistent culture of service in their hospitality operations, “What are the underlying necessities or foundation of service?”

In The Quest for Remarkable Service we made the following service comparisons:

  • Service is a state of mind, defined and reinforced by an organization’s culture.
  • Consistent Service is a state of mind plus thorough organization and systemic training.
  • Remarkable Service is a state of mind plus organization and systemic training, with well-hired, trained, and empowered employees responding to accountable, service-based leaders – all participating in a rigorous discipline of personalized service and continual product, service, and process improvement.

In this hierarchy of service quality are the following necessary foundational elements:

Leadership.  Nothing happens without strong, consistent enterprise-wide leadership.  The mass of detail and nuanced complexities of providing service to a large group of customers/guests/members, each with their own expectations, can only be achieved by Service-Based Leaders who know they must provide all the tools, training, resources, as well as daily example, engagement, and support to the line employees who deliver the service.

Beyond this service commitment of leaders, it takes a strong and persistent “will to make it happen” from leaders at all levels.  Like pushing on the giant flywheel of Jim Collins’ good to great companies, “it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all,” and requires “persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time” to build momentum and achieve breakthrough.  This persistence to push in a consistent direction can only come from the organization’s leadership.

Values.  Recognizing that service is, first and foremost, an attitude or state of mind, it takes well-defined organizational values and a culture of service that is consistently and continually reinforced in both word and deed by the organization’s leadership team.

But leaders must realize that the development of this culture is not some organic entity that arises on its own or from the inherent values of a diverse workforce.  To ensure it meets the needs and desires of the organization’s customers, it must be defined and modeled by management.  When employees see their leaders living the values they preach and supporting the employees in their daily efforts, service becomes second nature to all.

Organization.  A major obstacle to providing service is poor organization.  Without ongoing efforts to set up the workplace for efficiency and to seek out and remove obstacles to the smooth functioning of all areas of the operation, line employees quickly become frustrated and disheartened.  When unaddressed this frustration quickly turns to cynicism and bad attitudes – both of which defeat any efforts to provide service.

Poor organization is not found just in the physical layout of facilities, but also includes misguided or ever changing policies and procedures, lack of standards and discipline in fellow workers, and weak or non-existent training.  To be efficient, management and staff must be constantly focused on how to do things better and with less effort and frustration.  This focus is commonly called Continual Process Improvement and should be an integral part of the enterprise’s organizational values.

Training.  But having an organization with strong leadership, a well-defined culture of service, and efficient organization is of limited value if those qualities cannot be consistently and continually passed on to the line employees who must deliver service on a daily basis.  This requires a well-planned and executed training system that delivers all essential values, knowledge, information, and service techniques to employees in manageable doses on a continuing basis.  Without thorough and consistent training, service execution is dependent upon oral history and the attitudes, abilities, and personalities of individual employees.  Some will do well, most won’t!

Personalized Service.  Once the foregoing foundational elements of service have been firmly established, everything is in place to take service to the next level – rendering personalized service to individual customers.  While such service is often the stated intent of hospitality managers, it’s unrealistic to expect that your service teams will be able to focus on such a detailed endeavor while struggling under weak leadership with poorly-defined values, disorganized operations, and lack of training.

Take Away.  Just as in the construction of a dramatically appealing hotel, restaurant, or clubhouse, the finished details are built upon the foundational elements of the structure.  The analogy for how to provide high levels of service could not be more appropriate – first you must build the foundation!

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 hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

Fostering Initiative in Your Organization

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Do your department heads demonstrate initiative in the operation of their individual departmental “businesses” or do they sit on their hands waiting for you, the general manager, to tell them what to do?

The latter situation is detrimental to your enterprise because it:

  • Puts the burden on the GM to know what’s going on and what needs improvement at all times and in all areas of the operation,
  • Slows down any efforts toward continual process improvement as the GM’s plate becomes full and mired in operational detail,
  • Takes focus away from the strategic duties of the GM,
  • Requires the GM to have an in-depth understanding of all operational disciplines which few, if any, possess, no matter how experienced and competent,
  • Robs subordinate managers of the opportunity to exercise judgment, gain executive experience, own outcomes, grow skills for greater authority and responsibility, and experience the satisfaction of success and accomplishment – a significant driving force for most people, particularly the gifted and ambitious,
  • Demonstrates a lack of trust in subordinates,
  • Is the primary symptom of the doomed-to-fail “genius with a thousand helpers” leader – the one who feels that only he or she is capable of doing the job right and who promotes a cadre of “yes men” while driving away the most competent assistants,
  • Damages the future of the enterprise by putting all the leadership strength and decision-making in one basket, thereby creating the potential for catastrophe when he or she moves on,
  • Inevitably burns out the individual who is trying to do it all.

The intelligent alternative to these consequences is to put the responsibility and accountability for operational areas into the hands of capable subordinates who know and understand all aspects of their business specialty.  But to work effectively, the general manager must first:

  • Establish and reinforce organizational leadership and values,
  • Spell out expectations for performance,
  • Establish annual operational goals,
  • In conjunction with individual managers establish departmental goals, develop meaningful work plans, and hold them strictly accountable for results,
  • Bo open and approachable for consultation as necessary,
  • Monitor progress toward goals and work plan completion by using milestones and timelines,
  • Meet at least monthly with department heads to review progress,
  • Offer ideas and assistance through mentoring and professional development of subordinates,
  • Praise and reward wins,
  • Constructively review failures with the goal of educating and improving.

When all these things are done on a continuing basis, the performance of the entire operation is maximized, the operation shows continual improvement, and members/guests/customers are provided an ever-enhanced experience that rewards and delights their ongoing patronage.

A few caveats:  When embarking on a course of greater subordinate initiatives, experience and trust are paramount.  Therefore:

  • For those subordinates who are new or relatively unknown to the organization or who by past questionable action warrant a degree of caution, use a process of specific direction and close supervision until they’ve demonstrated the requisite skills and judgment to exercise broader initiative.
  • For those who’ve already demonstrated sound judgment, competence, and professionalism, give them a freer hand while being ever ready for consultation and brainstorming.

When mistakes happen, and rest assured that they will, use them as learning experiences and move on to the next challenge and initiative.

Summary:  Initiative is one of the primary components of sound leadership.  Hospitality enterprises operate in highly competitive environments and are too complex to allow any portion of the operation to tread water.  Continual improvement and the necessary initiative to move forward on a broad front are critical to ongoing success.

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 hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

Leadership Development – The Foundation of Personal and Professional Success

Monday, June 8th, 2015

No matter your role in the organization, no matter your area of professional expertise, if you direct employees, your primary role is that of a leader, not a manager or supervisor.

So what is the difference between a manager and a leader?  While a manager may possess a broad range of skills and abilities to manage the resources, functions, and financial viability of an organization, a leader recognizes the ultimate value of people in all activities and uses a wide array of personal characteristics to get the best from a diverse workforce.  In so many ways this human element of leadership is far more challenging than the many empirical decisions of management.  Roger Enrico, the former Chair of Pepsico, put it another way when he said,

“The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.”

But what was he talking about when he said “the soft stuff”?

In short, it’s the people skills – those aptitudes and abilities used to get the best out of one’s human assets.  It encompasses all those things we talk about when discussing leadership – the relations with multiple constituencies and the highly nuanced interactions with a diverse workforce that result in motivation, morale, enthusiasm, focus, commitment, productivity, teamwork, organizational cohesiveness, and group success.

Regardless of your position in your organization, it is your leadership talents that will ultimately make the difference in the success of your endeavors and career.  As one senior hospitality executive said,

“The longer I’m in this business, the more I realize it’s all about leadership.”

So why leave it to chance.  Recognizing what Warren G. Bennis, the scholar, organizational consultant, and author said,

“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true.  Leaders are made rather than born.”

Developing strong leadership skills and habits is an ongoing process in which you must change and adapt to your increasing levels of responsibility and the makeup of your constituencies – those who depend on you and for whom you provide leadership and service.

John Agno, corporate executive and author, noted that “Leadership development is self-development.”  So don’t expect others or circumstances to automatically transform you into an effective leader.  You must take personal responsibility for your career by familiarizing yourself with basic leadership principles and practices.  Then draw up a plan to develop and grow those skills as you progress to greater and greater levels of responsibility.

Leadership development is a lifelong pursuit.  You cannot change yourself overnight.  But the more you work at learning and demonstrating leadership, the more your constituencies will respond and the more success you will achieve.

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 hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Providing Guidelines for Empowered Behavior

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Hospitality operations need to ensure that leaders provide guidelines and information for empowered behaviorHaving developed the necessary environment for empowerment by valuing and trusting employees, while communicating values and goals to them, the leader’s next step is to establish the framework for empowered action.

With the understanding that most hospitality employees have never experienced working in an empowered organization, the leader must plant the seeds of empowerment by suggesting ways in which employees can act in empowered ways.

1.   Develop a list of most frequent customer complaints or issues.  By enlisting your employees’ help in identifying problem areas or issues, you send a strong message to them that you value their opinions and input.  This is the first step in helping them realize that they can be empowered to solve the problems.

2.   Brainstorm empowerment opportunities.  Once your team has identified problem areas, brainstorm with them how these problems might be properly resolved.  In the give and take discussion while brainstorming, your team will gain deeper insights of how and why problems should be resolved in particular ways and what might be the best resolution of a particular issue.

3.   Establish standards or limits of empowerment.  As the leader, you should guide the discussion to the appropriate solutions.  Ultimately, while employees may make decisions and take empowered action, it is up to you to ensure that they take the appropriate action and understand the guidelines of their authority.  In other words, you’re responsible for establishing the standards and limits of their empowerment.

4.   Challenge your team to work on one or two of the identified problem areas.  Select the most pressing of the identified problem areas or those that represent easy-to-fix issues; then challenge your team to make decisions on their own and take action to resolve them.  Make sure they understand that they will not be punished for doing the wrong thing and that any errors will only be used as learning opportunities for everyone involved.

5.   Set up a schedule of ongoing meetings.  Meetings every week or so are opportunities to review how the team is doing, what problems they’ve encountered, how they might resolve such problems, and to encourage the team toward further empowerment.

Excepted from The Power of Employee Empowerment

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 hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Motivation and Morale

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Employee turnover rates, employee attitudes, body language, and facial expressions speak volumes about a company.  The signs are easy to see – grumbling, fearfulness, under-breath comments, lack of humor or gallows humor, cynical signs on desks or screen savers, and sour, negative attitudes.

Poor morale comes from poor leaders.  Employees are not to blame.  They are simply responding to a lack of leadership.  Poor morale is solved by a genuine interest in the welfare of employees, trust, constant feedback, good two-way communications, clear goals, and positive motivation.

Leaders must motivate their employees to do what needs to be done, not just to get by, but to excel.  Leaders are vitally concerned about their employees’ morale.  Poor morale can cripple the effectiveness of any group of people.

You must set the example and be positive and upbeat.  Bad moods can destroy an organization, especially if it is yours.  It is your responsibility to keep your employees up.  Don’t tolerate sour, negative attitudes.  Unless you put a stop to them, they will grow like a cancer and be just as destructive.

A vivid memory of mine is of working at a historic hotel where the controller had been “in residence” for over twenty years.  Martha never smiled, and she seemingly despised hotel guests, vendors, and other employees.  Her isolation, constant grumbling, and obvious contempt for all around her poisoned the day-to-day atmosphere of the operation.

Staff social functions were occasions for Martha to complain about others who had not done their part or had performed poorly.  Staff meetings always included diatribes on how planned improvements were pointless because guests always complained and employees didn’t care.  Despite her critical and central role in the operation, other employees avoided her like the plague since she was so unpleasant.  Naturally this led to all sorts of problems, lack of cooperation, and miscommunication.

Finally, after much fruitless counseling and despite her longevity, we fired Martha.  The new controller we hired placed great emphasis on being part of the team, meeting with other department heads to explore their concerns and issues, and making a positive contribution to planning and change.

Morale improved immediately.  Line employees and managers seemed to have a new enthusiasm for the challenges we faced.  Cooperation and consideration became the order of the day.  As we gathered steam, improvements in the operation were readily apparent, and we all took pride in our efforts and accomplishments.  Even our regular guests noticed the new attitude and complimented us on our many initiatives.

I expected things to improve without Martha’s ill humor, yet I was stunned by the difference her departure made.  It seems her negativity impacted many on the staff.  The collective emotional energy invested in dealing with her was put to better use and everyone was better for it.

While you can’t control the mood swings of others, you can expect and require your employees to treat their fellow employees with courtesy and respect.  You can insist on a cheerful and positive attitude.  Any employee who refuses to make this basic commitment to the group welfare should seek other employment or, if suffering from a medical condition or emotional problem, seek professional help.

In dealing with many issues of motivation and morale, a little sincere human concern goes a long way.  The people who work for you are like you, basically good-at-heart, each with his or her own strengths and weaknesses.  Be gentle and nurturing and give them the benefit of the doubt.  Show understanding in helping and teaching them.  Yet be uncompromising and fanatical in your dedication to right attitude and quality of service.

Make employees part of the team, remembering that you are their coach.  Share ideas with them, brainstorm with them, and listen to their ideas.  A person with a stake in an organization has a greater sense of commitment.

A little praise and recognition goes a long way in building morale and esprit.  If employees bring you good ideas, make sure they get recognition for their contribution.  Never, ever take credit for an employee’s idea.  Your superiors will be far more impressed by your self-confidence and generosity of spirit in giving credit where it is truly due.  Conversely, nothing will destroy your standing with employees faster than claiming credit for their accomplishments and ideas.

Know and address your employees by name.  Meet with your employees frequently, both formally and informally.  Talk to them every day.  Ask for problems; hound them for problems.  If they honestly believe you will try to solve the problems they face, they will open up.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line: A Guide for Front Line Supervisors, Business Owners, and Emerging Leaders, Ed Rehkopf, Clarity Publications, 2002

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 hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Growing Your Leadership Skills

Monday, December 1st, 2014

As any individual grows in leadership, his or her ideas about what leadership entails will mature and, in that maturation, one constant will stand out—change.  Adaptation to insistently changing circumstances is a hallmark of success.  One must approach life as a continual learning experience.

What attitudes and approaches lend themselves to this continual learning experience?

  • Always keep an open mind.  Try not to pre-judge situations or people.
  • Never assume you know it all.  The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.
  • Be open and accessible to constituents—particularly followers.
  • Remember that each follower and each constituent is unique and may require different motivators.
  • Take time to stop and listen to your constituents.  In your rush to accomplish, do not forget that you need their input, feedback, and support.  Knowing their needs is essential.
  • Don’t cast others as adversaries.  Find out their legitimate concerns about your agenda.  Accept the challenge of winning over your most difficult constituents.
  • Take constituent concerns seriously and adjust your agenda as necessary.  Their buy-in to your program is essential to your success.  Judicious compromise is a sign of intelligence and flexibility, not defeat.  It should never be “my way or the highway.”
  • Stay informed.  Know what’s going on in your organization, community, and the world at large.  To be effective, you must be relevant to your time and place.  To speak with authority and win people over, you must be knowledgeable about more than just your job.
  • Nurture and care for your constituents.  While never on a quid pro quo basis, you will find that the care you give will be returned many times over in loyalty, support, and advancement of your goals.
  • Be aware and alert to what goes on around you.  Learn by observing others, by witnessing their successes and failures.  Most knowledge comes not from education, but from your life experiences.  When you go through life in a fog of your own making—too consumed with real and imaginary dramas—you are inert, like a rock, to the wealth of learning opportunities around you.  As one leading hospitality company puts it, “keep your antennas up and your radar on” at all times—you’ll learn a lot by doing so!
  • When you’re stressed or something has you ill-at-ease or on edge, it is a sure sign that something is wrong somewhere.  Analyze your situation.  Discovering the source is the first step in finding out what’s wrong and where you need to act.
  • Once you’ve discovered the problem, contemplate how your leadership can overcome the issue.  Like any other learned ability, this continual “puzzling” over leadership challenges will enhance your skills and usually bring you to a better resolution.  If things turn out badly, figure out what went wrong and learn from the mistake.

Darwin was right on many levels when he said that creatures have to adapt to survive.  Leaders must adapt, not just to survive, but to thrive.

Ed Rehkopf, 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 hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Guest Blog: Top Leadership Skills for Club Managers

Monday, November 10th, 2014
Don Vance, CCM, CPC Chief Operating Officer General Manager Hound Ears Club

Don Vance, CCM, CPC Chief Operating Officer General Manager Hound Ears Club

In today’s private Clubs, our Board of Directors expect us to have exceptional leadership skills. If we are to succeed we must learn to “hone” our leadership skills in order to deal with the present and future of our Clubs. Whether you are the General Manager and Chief Operating Officer of your Club, if you own the Club, you are a department manager, or you are an employee of the Club looking to make his or her way up the proverbial corporate ladder, the right leadership style and skills is essential in order to reach your personal and professional goals, the goals of your Club, and the individual goals of your team. It can be said without argument that well-honed leadership skills are the most important component of being a successful manager, providing you with the ability to lead your Club into the future and beyond, regardless of what’s up ahead.

Below are seven leadership skills that you can further develop that that will help you manage and lead your Club into the future of these uncertain economic times:

Adaptability:  As a leader, adaptability means reacting in an effective manner to shifting circumstances in your Club business environment, not only with what’s going on at your Club, but also having foresight with what’s going on in the business world, both locally and globally. Everybody experiences adaptive challenges, but leaders who are keen to resolve these issues with a carefully thought-out plan of action before they happen are what our Board of Directors is looking for. If there is one trait that every business leader needs most in today’s business environment, it is adaptability. I have always enjoyed the quote; “Better Bend than Break!”

Just as in an “outdoor survival situation” you must learn to improvise, adapt and overcome, if you are going to survive a situation. If adaptability is not your strongest skill set, then you can learn to accept your difference as just that and accept it is what it is. The key however, is anticipating potential problems at your Club, before they happen, so that you do not have to deal with putting out fires. Always plan and prepare a backup or contingency plan, just in case your preferred plan fails. A friend of mine was a Navy Seal. One of their mottos was; “One is none and two is one.” What this means is that if you have one of something in a survival situation and it breaks, you have nothing. But, if you have two of something, and one breaks, you will have the ability to replace parts or use the backup item in your survival kit in order to accomplish your mission. It’s a part of a well-thought out contingency plan, along with having foresight.

Remember that if you design your work style around a plan that provides plenty of adaptability, you will be able to provide better support and leadership to your team. You’ll also be the person that others turn to for guidance when things change or an unexpected crisis arises. Lead by example – if you show them that you are adaptable, open-minded and flexible you’ll discover more opportunities opening up for you.

People skills:  We all know that we are in the “people business.” If we do not have a tolerance and ability to deal with people, then we don’t need to be in the business of private club management.

We must learn the ability to observe people in the workplace. This will provide us with the insight that we will need in order to take appropriate action for the right results.

The ability to communicate effectively is one of our skill sets that we need to perfect. It is not easy to get ideas across to your team when attempting to make the right decision or reach a solution at your Club. As leaders we should be able to communicate effectively to everyone, not just your management team, but also to your line-level employees, along with your Club Committees, Membership and Board of Directors.

The ability to motivate your team gives you the leadership edge in order to get the best out of those who report directly to you. If you are not mentoring your team, listening to them and training them, then your people skills are greatly lacking. In order to develop these skills, you must learn how to listen and work closely with your team, taking into consideration what they have to say and contribute. Be “authentic” and listen and learn from your team. When you connect with your team, you develop trust, which provides a sense of integrity in the team. If they trust you, they will be more productive and they will follow your leadership. If your team loses trust in you, you have lost everything. Learn to listen more and adapt and overcome.

Self-Awareness:  Leaders who are aware of how they are perceived by others or how they impact the behavior of others are more likely to succeed than those who aren’t self-aware, or those who don’t seem to care. Most of us are guilty of believing that we are better than we really are, because of our honest intent. However, none of us are as good as we believe we are or as good as we can become.

Others can only judge us based on our behaviors, actions and what we talk about, which can often lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication. Remember; “We become what we think about.” You cannot, as a leader, assume that everyone around you instinctively understands the “how and why” behind what you do. You need to practice self-awareness in order to establish a more positive working relationship with your management team and employees. Identify your personal strengths and weaknesses and then determine what you need to do to overcome them, whether it is explaining things more clearly, being more willing to compromise or developing better team-building skills. Remember, even if you don’t see your flaws, those around you do. If you are self-aware, people will see that you are making the effort to overcome your faults – a very important trait of a great leader.

Decisiveness:   Let your “Yes be yes and your No be No.” Decisiveness is a critical skill set as a great General Manager. Decisiveness is an exercise in good judgment that produces well-informed, fast and sound decisions from decisive leaders. However, decisiveness is not to be confused with inflexibility. While leaders must be decisive, they must also be flexible, and understand when they need to respond to a well-thought out plan that isn’t working. The opposite of decisiveness is indecisiveness. Don’t let indecisiveness be a killer in your leadership style. Just remember no decision is often misinterpreted as a decision.

Purposefulness:   Every private club needs a well thought out vision, along with established mission and values to set its direction. Every successful leader can tune into that vision to achieve success. Without a vision, the people will perish. Your staff needs to have purpose. It is our responsibility to provide that purpose, through a defined leadership plan.

What may be more advantageous today is the ability to own a strong sense of purpose and the ability to convey this purposefulness to your employees and coworkers. Purposefulness can be more powerful than a vision because it shares the ambition of growing your Club with others. Understanding what the real purpose behind the vision is will inspire others. A vision, on the other hand, may make sense only to a few.

Collaborative Skills:  Technology has opened up new avenues for communicating and working with our members and employees. The idea behind collaborating is about idea exchange and sharing of ideas. I have often seen line level employees come up with some of the most brilliant ideas. We must never underestimate the brilliance of our employees. We should always provide a forum for every group in our Clubs, internally and externally, which includes inviting members and employees, to share in this form of idea exchange.

Innovation:  Another advantage of inspiring a culture of collaboration is the constant exchange of innovative ideas within your team. To be a great leader, become the person that everyone approaches when they have a new idea or innovative approach to a problem. Leadership means understanding that you don’t always have to come up with ideas by yourself – you can also nurture growth and innovation in others that will benefit everyone.

Too often we look outside of the box, referring to the quote: “Think Outside of the Box” as opposed to “Looking Inside of the Box.” I have found over the years that the solution is often right there before me, waiting to be discovered, right there inside of the box. Be innovative, be an idea generator. A great way to approach innovation that I have learned is to write down all of the ideas that the team can come up with and then when you have no more ideas flowing from the team, it’s there after that when most great ideas begin to surge. I say innovate until your brain hurts, because that’s where the real ideas are!

Article written by: Don E. Vance, CCM, CPC, Chief Operating Officer/General Manager, Hound Ears Club

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 hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

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