Posts Tagged ‘service-based leadership’

Guiding Principles and Operating Standards

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Some time ago I blogged about a Culture of Service and the need for constantly reinforced organizational values.  Among those values I suggested the need for principles and standards to guide the enterprise.  Here’s one attempt to define the underlying values of an organization:

GUIDING PRINCIPLES: Principles that guide the conduct of our business!

  • Proactive leadership with service-based philosophy. Our leadership is active and engaged, while strictly adhering to service-based leadership principles (per Leadership on the Line).
  • Forward-thinking, professional expertise. Our professional knowledge should not only be up-to-date, but should be constantly looking ahead for cutting edge concepts and practices.
  • Proven management and operating systems. We utilize proven management practices and operating systems to efficiently organize and operate our club.
  • Sound planning and effective implementation. All of our projects and tasks must be planned thoroughly and implemented completely.
  • Innovative programs, continually reviewed. We offer innovative programs and we continually review them to make improvements.
  • A commitment to staff development and empowerment through formal, ongoing training. We operate in a detail intensive business and can only achieve excellence by thorough training and retraining.  Employees must be empowered to succeed and to solve member/guest issues whenever encountered.

OPERATING STANDARDS: Standards that form the basis for our operations!

  • Our vision and goals are articulated.  Our Club Strategic Plan lays out the long term goals for the operation.  Club Annual Goals are prepared as guides and targets for accomplishment.  We put them in writing to formally commit ourselves to their accomplishment.
  • We are uncompromising in our commitment to excellence, quality, and service.  To serve the highest echelons of our community, we have to set and commit to the highest standards.
  • Authority and responsibility are assigned and accountability assured.  Managers are assigned both the authority and the responsibility to direct their areas of the operation according to our highest standards.  These individuals are held accountable for their results.
  • We embrace innovation, initiative, and change while rejecting the status quo.  We seek continual improvement in all aspects of our operations.
  • Standards are defined, operations are detailed in written policy and procedure, and we seek continual improvement of products, services, programs, and operating systems.  Written standards (or the expected outcome of our “moments of truth”) for our products and services are detailed in written policies and procedures.  We seek continual improvement in these.
  • Member/guest issues are resolved politely and promptly to their complete satisfaction by our empowered employees.  No explanation needed.
  • Constant communications and feedback enhances operations and service, while problems and complaints are viewed as opportunities to improve.  We can never communicate too much or too well.  Informed employees are better employees.  Problems brought to our attention allow us to focus on solutions.
  • We benchmark revenues and sales mixes to evaluate members’ response to products, services, and programs, and we benchmark expenses, inventories, and processes to ensure efficiency and cost effectiveness.  We must pay close attention to what our members are telling us by their spending habits.  Benchmarking and analyzing expenses, inventories, and processes help us be more efficient.
  • We ensure clean, safe, well-maintained facilities and equipment while safeguarding club assets.  A good bottom line is only one measure of our effectiveness; we must also take care of all club facilities and safeguard their assets.
  • We acknowledge each operation as a team of dedicated individuals working toward common goals and we recognize the ultimate value of people in everything we do.  While each employee has his or her own duties and responsibilities, every member of our staff is important and works toward the common goal of understanding and exceeding the expectations of our members and guests.  Ultimately our business is about people and they must be valued and respected wherever and whenever encountered.

By themselves such statements have little value.  But by the  consistent example of management and the constant reinforcement to all employees these values are elevated to an animating spirit that permeates the organization.

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.

Service-Based Leadership – It’s Just Common Sense

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

I recently read an Internet-posted news article entitled, “Disney Offers Customer Service Training.”  Written by Adrian Sainz, the article talked about Miami International Airport employees taking customer service training from the Disney Institute, a division of Walt Disney Company set up to teach its principles and practices to other companies.  Let’s pick up on the story.

“Now the Institute has taken another client: Miami International Airport, which many travelers will tell you needs customer service training like an airplane needs wings. Surveys rank its service among the nation’s worst. The airport’s terminal operations employees are taking classes taught by Institute instructors, learning leadership practices, team building, staff relations and communication skills-many formulated by Walt Disney himself.

“Disney takes great pride in ensuring a fun time and repeat business, mainly by emphasizing customer service and attention to detail while trying not to appear too sterile or robotic.

“Early in the training, a handful of Miami airport managers visited the Magic Kingdom, where they were shown examples on how paying attention to detail and removing barriers were integral in making guests happy and keeping them informed.”

The article went on discussing various techniques used by Disney to enhance customer service.  While I found this discussion somewhat interesting, it was the reader comments posted below the article that caught my attention.  Here they are (emphasis added is mine):

1st Posted Comment:  “I work for a medical practice in Georgia that sends a few of their employees to Disney for training each year. Our patients (guests) really responded well to our new customer service guidelines. However, management really needed to attend the training as well as the regular employees. They became complacent in their ‘ivory tower’ and expected all of us to treat the patients well (and of course we did); however, management needed to extend the same courtesy and good manners to their employees. In the past 3 months the company has had record turnover and still harbors a large disgruntled employee pool. No idle words …. ‘Treat others the way you would want to be treated.'”

2nd Posted Comment:  “When we returned, all 1st level management (the ones dealing with the customers) were asked to implement the Disney experience in our daily activities. To this day we have weekly meetings with our senior management to report how our teams are embracing the changes. Unfortunately many of the associates treat it as ‘the flavor of the month’ program to improve customer satisfaction. We are still trying to make a culture change with our staff.  The most unfortunate part of the Disney experience was that although our senior management went along on the trip, I am yet to witness the impact it had on them when dealing with us 1st level managers.”

ed-jpeg-43rd Posted Comment:  “I agree with the posters who feel that senior management should lead by example and treat their subordinates with dignity and respect. It just seems like common sense, that when employees are happy and feel well treated, this will filter down to the way they treat the customers. Everyone in an organization deserves to be treated well and this makes for optimum performance.”

Three of the four postings by readers made the same point about management.  This suggests the obvious:  that without the active involvement and example of leadership (and Service-Based Leadership at that), improvements in employee morale, dedication, empowerment, and ultimately in customer service will not happen.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This 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 Key Basics to Successfully Operating a Private Club

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

The club industry is facing difficult times and while we are all facing challenges, each club faces its own particular problems.  As is usually the case when facing difficulties, this is the time to get back to the basics of our business.  Here are 8 things each club should examine:

1.  Leadership.  Clubs need clear-sighted individuals to guide them through tough times – but not just at the top.  They need strong leaders at all levels of operations.  It’s also important that the leadership styles of club leaders at all levels are congruent.  Different leadership approaches can dilute or damage the General Manager’s service message when it’s not reinforced consistently by all managers and supervisors in both word and deed.

2.  Organizational values and culture of service.  Every employee needs to understand what, how, and why you do what you do.  The basics of what you stand for as an enterprise are of absolute importance.  Defining your values is only the first step.  They must be continually and consistently reinforced to all employees.

3.  Planning.  Haphazard planning results in haphazard operations and equally haphazard performance.  Your club should have a 3 – 5 year strategic plan focused on your competitive position in the marketplace.  The club should have an annual plan for what it expects to accomplish and the General Manager and all Department Heads should have detailed annual work plans.  As important, the requirements of work plans must involve measurable performance parameters.  Detailed benchmarking of all areas of the operation is the easiest and best way to do this.

4.  Benchmarks.  You need to understand the variables of business volume and average sale that underlie all of your revenues.  Without this knowledge you may be lulled by historical levels of revenue when they are actually made up of declining volume, but higher prices and fees.  Benchmarking in detail is also an excellent way to listen to what members are saying with their buying habits.

5.  Accountability.  The club business is too demanding not to hold individual managers accountable for results.  The performance of every manager and supervisor must be measured against their annual work plan and there must be consequences for failing to meet goals.  Poor performing managers degrade the efforts of the rest of the team and drive away good employees.

6.  Employee Turnover.  There is a high cost to turnover and it usually related directly to the quality of the club’s leadership at all levels.  It is particularly costly when you do a good job of training your people.  Do not become the minor league training ground for your competitors – both private clubs and local restaurants.

7.  Training.  There is much for employees to know in serving your members.  You cannot expect that your employees will inherently know what to do unless they are systematically and consistently trained.  Training gives your employees the knowledge and confidence they need.  Confident employees are more apt to engage your members and provide higher levels of service.

8.  Member feedback.  You need to understand what your members think about your club, the products and services it provides, and the service your employees render.  Surveys are an excellent tool to do this, but you must act on the information you receive in intelligent and thoughtful ways to make the most cost-effective decisions in satisfying wants and needs.

Getting back to the basics is a sure way to regain your footing during and after the current seismic shift taking place in our industry.  The good news is, and there’s always a silver lining, that the best leaders and their operations will inevitably rise to the top.

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.

Service-Based Leadership

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

Service-Based Leadership is the foundation for Remarkable Service.

Given that leading ultimately involves guiding, influencing, and directing people, I posit the following working definition for “Leadership”:

Leadership is the sum of those individual traits, skills, and abilities that allow one person to commit and direct the efforts of others toward the accomplishment of a particular objective.

Central to this definition is the understanding that exercising leadership involves building and sustaining relationships between leader and followers. Without this bond or connection, there are no willing followers and, therefore, no true leader. Given that no leader operates in a vacuum, it also requires that the leader establish relationships with other relevant constituencies.

With Service-Based Leadership, the attitude and primary motivation of the leader is service to others – to members, to employees, to shareholders. This approach to leadership naturally creates relationships – the deep and abiding bonds that sustain the efforts of the organization. This outward focus of the leader sets up a dynamic where:

  • Employees are continually recognized.
  • There is an open flow of ideas, opinions, and information.
  • Initiative and risk are highly regarded.
  • Problem discovery and solution is a focus while placing blame is unimportant.
  • Every employee feels energized and part of the team and is valued for his or her contribution.
  • Prestige is derived from performance and contribution, not title or position.
  • Members are treated well because employees are treated well.
  • The energy and initiative of all employees is focused on the common effort.

With Service-Based Leadership, you will find that service to both internal and external customers is effortless. Less energy is expended in processing complaints, grievances, and conflicts. Work is more fun and everyone’s job is easier.

The Service-Based Leader understands that the key to serving the needs of those he or she serves lies in ensuring that strong relationships are established with individuals. How does one do this? Begin by:

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

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

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.

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!

It Ain’t the Employees

Monday, March 17th, 2014

If you want to improve quality and service at your operation, don’t start with your line employees.  According to the late W. Edwards Deming, one of the foremost authorities on quality improvement who helped transform Japan into a world-class industrial giant after World War II,

“The worker is not the problem.  The problem is at the top!  Management is the problem!” 

He further emphasizes the point by saying,

“There is much talk about how to get employees involved with quality.  The big problem is how to get management involved.” *

Among Deming’s many observations is that quality is achieved by a complex sequence of (manufacturing or service) processes and it is management that establishes those processes.  Until the barriers to quality inherent in ill-conceived and implemented processes (often created by management without a true understanding of what factors contribute to quality) are removed, the lack of quality or service is only the natural consequence of such poorly-designed, integrated, and applied processes.  Recognizing this, it is clear that quality improvement can come about only through the leadership and direction of management.

So what’s to be done about improving quality?

Leadership.  As usual, it all comes back to leadership – that often ill-defined quality that everyone talks about, but few truly understand.  Let us first of all be clear, leadership is not a position.  A position carries authority and responsibility, but as we say in Leadership on the Line,

“Exercising leadership involves building and sustaining relationships between leader and followers.  Without that bond or connection, there are no willing followers and, therefore, no true leaders.” 

In Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, we go on to say,

“The quality of your leadership is determined by the influence you have with your followers, which, in turn, is established by the quality of your relationships with them – and your relationships are built on a foundation of trust, of which integrity, competency, consistency, and common decency are primary ingredients.”

In speaking on the same topic, Roger Enrico, former Chairman at Pepsico, said,

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

But what are we really talking about when we speak of the ‘soft stuff’?  As we say in The Quest for Remarkable Service,

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

Finally, a prime ingredient of leadership is example.  As Albert Einstein once said,

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

Without the disciplined direction and consistent example of management at all levels of the operation, quality and service will remain forever elusive.

Establishing Expectations.  You cannot expect that your line employees with their vastly different backgrounds, education, and life experiences will inherently understand what the quality and service expectations are for your operation.  These must be spelled out in great detail and reinforced continually.  The same is true for your management staff, but with far greater consequences.  Your management team sets the standard and the example for your entire operation.  Without consistent leadership, explicit communication of expectations, and reinforcement of well-defined values, expecting your employees to meet your standards of behavior and service is unrealistic in the extreme.

So the requirements must be to:

  1. Train both managers and employees thoroughly in your Organizational Values and Culture of Service, and
  2. Spell out in detail what your quality and service standards and expectations are for both managers and employees.

Employee Empowerment.  John Tschohl, founder of the Service Quality Institute, says,

“Without empowerment, an organization will never be a service leader. Empowerment is the most critical skill an employee can master and a company can drive in order to lure and keep customers.”

The major role that leaders make in empowering their employees is to create a culture where employees are valued and recognized as vital resources of the enterprise.  They must also understand that to be successful with employee empowerment, employees must fully sense the company’s commitment to such empowerment; simply saying that employees are empowered, does not make it so.  Leaders at all levels must do more than talk the talk.

While employee empowerment may be seen as a desirable practice by management, it ultimately comes about only with the recognition by employees that they are empowered.  This means that the focus of leaders must not be on what employees are doing to achieve empowerment, but on what they themselves are doing to promote and enable it.

Training.  All of us who work in the service business understand that operations are both people-intensive and detail-intensive.  It takes a lot of employees to provide the requisite levels of service and every aspect of service involves many details.  These two facts make detailed, ongoing training an absolute necessity for any successful operation.  For a list of those topics that must be covered in training for both managers and line employees, see the article entitled Training Requirements in Hospitality Operations.

Recognizing the high cost of training, Hospitality Resources International has created a number of On the Go Training resources for operators.

Your Employees.  How you treat your employees will have a great deal to do with their attitudes and dedication at work.  Read Give Them More Than Just a Paycheck for ways to increase their commitment to their place of employment and the quality of their service to your customers/guests/members.

Bottom Line.  None of the above is rocket science, but it does take a disciplined approach to your work.  At the end of the day, discipline is probably the most important ingredient for any efforts to improve quality and service.  As Jim Collins says in his groundbreaking book Good to Great,

“Much of the answer to the question of ‘good to great’ lies in the discipline to do whatever it takes to become the best within carefully selected arenas and then seek continual improvement in these.  It’s really just that simple.”

“A culture of discipline is not just about action.  It is about getting disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who then take disciplined action.”

So as you go about making your plans to improve quality and service, remember it starts and ends with your management team.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also train your employees in the finer points of service and your expectations for them, but without the active involvement of management at all levels, it ain’t gonna happen!

* For those interested in Deming’s logic in approaching quality improvement, read Improve Quality – Lower Costs

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!

Value Your People

Monday, October 7th, 2013

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

Susan M. Heathfield, Business Consultant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, 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  hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

Leadership and Relationships

Monday, August 19th, 2013

John C. Maxwell, author of the bestselling The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, says that the definition of leadership is influence.  While it is, first and foremost, the ability to influence followers, it also requires that the leader influence those people who make up any and all constituencies.

In a free society, all but the most socially and economically disadvantaged have choices – they can choose to work for you and your business or they can take their talents and abilities elsewhere.  It is, therefore, the manner in which you as a leader engage them that determines your level of influence.

Influence is derived from the relationships you create with your followers and other constituents.  How you act and interact with others is the basis for your success as a leader.  The quality of your relationships will determine your outcomes.  But you must understand that each of your followers and constituents is a unique individual with different needs and motivations.  What may work with one may fail miserably with another.  And, unfortunately, creating meaningful relationships with other people can be a great challenge for all of us – witness all the dysfunctional families, rocky romances, and failed marriages – and no less challenging for leaders who must interact with a wide variety of followers.

But the art of relationships can be learned.  Generally speaking, while it requires experience, judgment, a measure of sensitivity to the needs of others, and a fair degree of emotional maturity, the ability to form and sustain meaningful relationships improves with age.

Developing leadership, or relationship skills, is a cumulative process.  It’s why Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, proposes the Level 5 Hierarchy leading to the consummate Level 5 Leader.  It is why potential leaders must be identified early, why young managers must be trained in the skills of leadership, and why such skills should be nurtured and shaped with each increase in responsibility and each step of the career ladder.  Clearly, the rudimentary skills of direct face-to-face leadership that serve the front line supervisor so well are inadequate for the more complex and subtle exercise of authority required of a mid-level manager or senior executive.

Creating and sustaining meaningful relationships is at the heart of Service-Based Leadership.  The extent to which you are able to develop those relationships early in your career will have a great bearing on your future success – but not only in your career.  The bonus is that in developing Service-Based Leadership skills, you develop the skills to form meaningful relationships in other areas of your life.

Ed Rehkopf, Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, 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 hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

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The Enemies of Effective Leadership

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Leadership is never so important as it is in times of difficulty and stress.  For many of us in the club business facing declining memberships and club use, belt-tightening budgets, and the insistent clamor for high quality service, that time is now.  And while we all like to think of ourselves as effective leaders, it may be a good time for a brief leadership reality check.

The following list includes some things that can destroy anyone’s effectiveness as a leader:

Lack of Values.  In order to lead others, you must have a grounding or center of moral and ethical values that you hold to regardless of situation.  This center is who you truly are and will see you through any difficulty.  With a strong center, your integrity is intact and you can be trusted by your constituencies to do the right thing.  A person without bedrock values is frequently seen as an opportunist – doing this or that or whatever serves the interests of the moment.

Lack of Integrity.  Your integrity is dependent upon the values you hold and your steadfastness in maintaining those values in the face of challenge and adversity.  Integrity also means that you are whole, sound, and true.  Lacking this, you cannot be counted on by others.

Personal Insecurity.  Insecure people are fearful, defensive, and sometimes paranoid.  They assume the worst and look for every piece of evidence to support their fears.  Consciously or unconsciously their fearful actions damage their relationships with others.  Being fearful, they do not trust.  In not trusting they are quick to blame and act defensively, which causes offense to others.  Their words and actions destroy the very trust that underlies any meaningful relationship.

Lack of Vision.  Without an understanding of where you’re taking your followers, they will not be inclined to join you on your journey.

Poor Communicator.  Even with a profound vision, you must be able to communicate it to your followers.  They want to know where they are going and how they will get there.  But you don’t necessarily have to be a great orator to communicate effectively – you just have to communicate often and thoroughly.

Large Ego.  History is littered with failed hero cults – Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, James Jones, and Nicolae CeauÅŸescu, to name a few.  As Jim Collins points out in Good to Great there is a negative correlation of “celebrity” CEOs and great companies.  Every great company he identified in his book had Level 5 leadership – the combination of personal humility and overwhelming drive for the company’s success, not one’s own.

Lack of Competence.  Your followers will never trust you if you can’t demonstrate competence in your field of endeavor.  Without trust in your abilities, they won’t follow you.  Some “leaders” have been able to mask their incompetence with bluff, arrogance, and braggadocio and gain a following, but in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “You cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Lack of Initiative.  Leading isn’t just about talking, it’s about doing.  Ultimately, you will be judged as a leader by what you successfully accomplish.  Initiative is taking your thoughts and words into the realm of action.

Lack of Organization.  Leadership is a group activity.  You are required to motivate your followers to accomplish some goal or mission.  To do this effectively you have to be able to organize their efforts.  Your followers will lose heart if your efforts and theirs are chaotic.

Lack of Standards.  Just as you have values, a leader must have standards – for herself as well as her followers.  An ill-disciplined army can win a battle but lose the war for failing to maintain basic standards of human behavior.  As a leader, you will be judged by the actions of your followers.  Therefore, they must understand the high standards that you have and hold dear.

Lack of Personal Accountability.  Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here.”  Every true leader must be prepared to accept the responsibility he assumes.  Dodging responsibility will quickly cost the trust of your followers.  Be a “stand up” person and recognize that not everything you do will be right.  Your followers will readily understand that if you simply hold yourself to the same high standards you expect of them.

Lack of Confidence.  You must be confident in your vision and your cause for people to willingly follow you.  Most people are looking for guidance and direction and will embrace your well-thought out course of action when you demonstrate your confidence in it.

Failure to Value Followers.  You cannot “use” people.  They will gladly follow a trusted leader with a compelling vision, but will become cynical and alienated when they know they are being manipulated for your purposes alone.

Lack of Ongoing Involvement.  Accomplishing a challenging task requires persistence and effort over the long haul.  An effective leader sees the task through to successful conclusion, whereas the dreamer or visionary can envision the result but has no conception of how to accomplish it.  As a leader, you must remain engaged in your enterprise until you’ve accomplished your mission.  If your followers sense your detachment from the effort you’ve led them to, they will lose interest and their willing efforts will rapidly erode.

Lack of Emotional Maturity.  To win the hearts and minds of your followers you must have the emotional maturity to build solid, enduring relationships with all manner of people.  As a result you can’t be impulsive, rash, or overly-emotional in your dealings with others.  Likewise, you must maintain a leadership presence by avoiding childish actions and immature reactions to others around you.

Effective leadership is never easy, particularly in changing times and circumstances, but the best leaders seem to rise from the challenge of the moment.  In the words of one hospitality executive, “The longer I’m in this business, the more I realize it’s all about leadership.”  With this thought in mind put your time and emphasis where it will have the greatest impact and do the most good.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook

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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Becoming a Service-Based Leader

Monday, November 5th, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rewards of Service-Based Leadership

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

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

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

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

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the 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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