Why Leaders Fail and the Seven Prescriptions for Success

By Peter Stark Principal, Peter Barron Stark Companies | March 19, 2017

Co-authored by Commander Mary C. Kelly, US Navy, PHD, CSP

Good people work hard to secure good jobs, and then they work hard to get promoted into increased positions of authority and responsibility. Sadly, once in those leadership positions, good people often fail. Why?

The defining factor of a strong leader is rooted in the relationships they build with their team members and how effectively they propel the organization toward great achievement. Becoming a great leader and earning relationships with people who are motivated to follow you for long periods of time is hard work. If it were easy, there would be an abundance of great leaders, all companies would flourish, and all employees would be excited to come to work.

We find an abundance of supervisors, military personnel, managers, vice presidents, and CEOs within organizations with positions of authority. These managers have titles that allow them to tell others what to do. Ideally, they put the right people on the bus and align the organizational structure to effectively meet the goals. Yet, many managers successfully accomplish routine tasks and produce results for their organization, but they fail to become truly effective and inspiring leaders.

Why do so many excellent people struggle once they are promoted? Our latest book, Why Leaders Fail and the 7 Prescriptions for Success analyzes thousands of employees and their leaders and what leaders need to do to be successful.

What can we do to ward against failure? How can we be more effective leaders?

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.