Leading the Way to the Top

The hotel industry is great at developing managers, but sometimes falls short on developing leaders. Companies tend to focus on teaching the skills necessary to do the job, but not necessarily how to lead.

Many people believe leadership is like art: It's hard to define, but you know it when you see it. I couldn't disagree more.

Building leaders is a thoughtful process requiring a commitment to identify and nurture the best and brightest. At Marcus Hotels and Resorts, we have developed extensive programs to foster leadership, highlighted by a president's council that selects at least one future leader from each property we operate. The group meets twice a year and interacts closely with the full corporate senior management team. The council has extensive “homework” and classroom training. The real benefit is the participants find mentors at the senior-most levels of the company and build a network of up-and-coming peers that will extend throughout their career.

It begins with recruiting

There is a major difference between filling a position with a qualified person and finding a person who can become a leader. No one comes into a job knowing everything. If they do, they probably aren't the right person for the job. When there is limited growth opportunity, the person will stagnate and likely leave the company.

A leader must overcome the natural tendency to hire someone who isn't quite as smart or as good as he or she is. Great leaders hire people with significant potential, even if the new associates sometimes grow faster than the leader who hired them.

Like it or not, every leader has an ego. Otherwise, they wouldn't be leading. Carefully select egos when looking for leaders. Make sure they will fit your company's culture, not compromise it.

There is nothing more fulfilling than helping someone move up the ladder. You become a touch point and a highlight of the person's career. They will sing your praises years after you've parted ways. In my career, Bill Hulett, president of the Stouffer Hotel Company, and Steve Marcus, chairman and chief executive officer of the Marcus Corporation, are two leaders who made an indelible impact on me.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.


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