Leadership Development is Your Key to Effective Retention

By Peter Stark Principal, Peter Barron Stark Companies | March 08, 2015

Far too many business leaders in the hospitality industry today are failing to invest in one of the most critical aspects of a successful business – their leaders of tomorrow. Most hotel executives recognize the importance of leadership in building the long term success of their business. Yet, many executives fail to develop their managers of today into great leaders that will successfully drive and guide the future of the business tomorrow. With guests raising the bar and demanding more every year, the ongoing success of your properties is ultimately determined by the recruiting, hiring, development, and retention of your future leaders.

Do the current leaders of your organization recognize the high value of providing leadership skills development for your organization's future leaders? Zappos, Southwest Airlines, Deloitte and General Electric are all great examples of companies that take pride in selecting, developing and retaining strong leaders at every level of the organization. Great companies know that developing and retaining future leaders gives them a steep advantage over competitors who lack this focus. As businesses compete to attract and retain top talent, it is also important to consider what the best employees are looking for in a job. One of the top considerations is whether or not employees believe they have opportunities to continuously learn and grow. Leadership skills are invaluable to employees as they advance in their respective positions and careers, and opportunities to hone these skills are attractive to future candidates and current employees alike.

As you consider the value of leadership development, it is important to distinguish the difference between management training and leadership skills development. Although the behaviors exhibited and skills needed for both managers and leaders may be identical, the outcomes of the respective training sessions are significantly different. Leadership skills development helps managers who are focused on numbers, revenues and outcomes learn how to build strong relationships where (regardless of a formal title) employees are motivated to follow them and deliver discretionary effort that goes above and beyond just performing a job.

[According to the Association for Talent Development][1], U.S. businesses spend more than $170 billion on leadership-based curricula. Some would argue the leadership training business hasn't been very effective, since we still have a plethora of managers in the industry, but very few real leaders.

Part of the problem is that many leadership programs focus on training managers rather than developing leaders. Again, this is an important distinction to make. Managers can be trained to follow processes, procedures and best practices. When the focus is on training, the goal is immediate learning and compliance. It is much more difficult, however, to train managers to build successful relationships where employees are highly motivated, engaged and excited about following their leader. Development is a two-way, experiential process that takes time. Successful leadership development doesn't generally produce the desired results in just one or two sessions.

It is estimated that organizations spend over $14 billion a year trying to train and develop the workforce. Unfortunately, many of these leadership development programs fail for several reasons:

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.