Culinary and hospitality schools afford me the privilege of lecturing to future leaders on the finer points of interviewing skills, résumé writing, business correspondence and job hunting.  I spend a good portion of the résumé-writing time discussing the importance of using “impact” language to describe career experience.

But you really can’t use impact terms if you’re not an impact player!

The Encarta Dictionary cites one definition of impact as “the powerful or dramatic effect that something or somebody has.”  Naturally, driving revenues and controlling costs are critical aspects to success.  But no one person can manage a lodging or F&B operation alone. 

The professionals who ascend through the ranks are the ones who positively impact guests, inspire and lead their subordinates, and support their peers. 

Impacting Guests

If you don’t jump out of bed every morning fired up about delivering great guest experiences, then you are in the wrong business.  I’ve never had a great guest experience reading a spreadsheet or in a cramped manager’s office, so if that’s where you are instead of creating relationships with your guests then do yourself a favor and throw away your desk chair.

Hospitality is caring.  When you care you anticipate the needs of others.  You genuinely care if a guest has an experience that is less than excellent.  All service skills stem from this sense of caring and without it you can never make an impact in hospitality world. 

The best companies base their hiring decisions on a great attitude first.  Skills can be learned through training, a change of habits and transactions.  It is very difficult to train someone to have a heart for hospitality because that involves a change in behavior, one’s emotional composition which is set at a very early age.

Inspirational Leadership

Norman Brinker, the late, great concept creator and restaurant industry titan said, “Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.”  Leaders listen more than speak because they realize that it takes a unified team to do great things and every member of the team is critically important regardless of their position or status. 

If you are not fully engaged with your staff, here are five things you can start doing right now to begin building the bonds that lead to successful team leadership:

1. Smile more and greet everyone on your staff the first time you see them each day, because the leader sets the mood
2. Even if just a couple minutes each day, spend more one-on-one time with your staff getting to know them on a more personal level
3. Recognize staff members for their great work and do not overlook those who may not be the brightest stars but who are consistently punctual, efficient, happy, kind, etc. 
4. Encourage collaboration by genuinely accepting input from your staff before making policy changes, and bring everyone together by defining the reasons for changes
5. Show your staff you value and trust them by delegating projects or tasks in great detail, and then allowing them to complete the task without micromanagement

Leaders are loyally followed because team members know the leader has their best interest at heart.  Such loyalty can only be built through one-on-one relationships.

Support Your Peers

So many companies are plagued by in-fighting, back-stabbing and politicking.  Employees perceive these tactics as ways to get ahead when they really set you back.  When your thoughts are on anger, rivalries, dissention and division, you are wasting valuable time and conditioning yourself to have a negative worldview.

True leaders rise because their worldview is positive and uplifting.  You can impact your peers for the better in so many ways. 
• Help them in an area in which they are weak but you are strong
• Encourage continued education and certification
• Collaborate and share ideas to make the whole company better
• Help them get through rough times by listening and influencing them to seek healthy solutions over self-destructive coping mechanisms  

In his new book Enchantment, tech industry legend turned leadership author Guy Kawasaki cites achieving trustworthiness as one of the most important steps to changing people’s hearts, minds and actions.  He cites successful companies like Amazon, Zappos and Nordstrom when he says to trust others before they trust you.  If you do this you will have let downs along the way because some will abuse your trust.  This is unavoidable, human nature.  Roll with it and sleep well with a clean conscious.  You will create far more positive outcome than negative in the course of time. 

Before long and ultimately, you will be known as a positive, uplifting leader who is well-liked.  Last I checked, that describes the people who deserve to rise to the top.

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