Creating Our Own Leadership Values

By Rick Gabrielsen President, Kupuna Hospitality, LLC | November 06, 2011

Often confused with position, popularity or charisma, leaders today appear to be thrust into a leadership role that many want no part of. In any relationship or venture, it appears that most individuals lack the fundamentals of what a "leader" is and most importantly the definition. Let's start by looking at the definition of a leader and then the values aspect of the words as stated in the Merriam Webster Dictionary. A leader is defined as "something that leads" and a value is defined as "something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable". The reference in each to the "something" appears to have no feelings or emotion. Could we now begin to use the leadership term as "something that leads with value or desire"? That would then describe a leader as one that draws upon emotion and value in each of their plans, processes or decisions. Let's together discuss the leadership values in our industry today and use this platform to review what I think are the components to creating your own leadership values. The five values of leadership I look to are in the "ING", "Listening, Volunteering, Mentoring, Deciding and Adjusting". Creating your own leadership values is a work of art, blended through time and continually re-shaped.


Do you recall as a youngster when you could not talk and your greatest attribute was listening? How enjoyable was it to listen to a story or learn to crawl, did you give instructions to the teacher or your parents? When learning to ride a bicycle or read, was it you that was gifted without instructions? Has your interaction with others turned from open ended questions to closed? Do you prefer short answers in order to gain the lead in a conversation with a quick follow up of another closed- end question? Have you found yourself over the years adjusting to these differences? Do you recognize when your leadership values change? Take a moment to only listen and not respond and I am confident that your position will change abruptly where you will learn patience, compassion and a wealth of knowledge to enhance your own leadership values. Teamwork values are based in the listening mode which allows others to form their opinions, process their direction and then communicate to the team a plan of work. Understanding others point of view and creating a dialogue is only completed through the ears. To listen is to learn about something of value.


At a Board meeting a few years ago while in a discussion of due dates, etc. by the President, one member sitting adjacent to me, looked over and said "is this not a volunteer organization?" I have been interested in his comment for years. The meaning for me was that we are all executives in each of our own industries and we volunteer to give back to others. Volunteering over the years is near and dear to my core. It provides a buffet of values and leadership skills to learn from, in many instances examples to retain and some to avoid. Remember in this arena, you do not receive compensation only the reward for the soul. The majority who volunteer, do it before, in the middle or after a "job" and the learning is as if you are in a college setting where all education is pursued not provided. Providing to others the value of time in a setting of unselfishness, creates learning unseen in the business world and develops relationships to lead. Where can you find a group of individuals from a variety of industries who share a common goal with an opportunity to learn so much about leadership and it is complimentary…a reward for your time!


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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. 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.