True Leadership

Ever heard of a Cult Manager? No – but you have heard of a cult leader, right? Were Patton, Montgomery and Churchill managers or leaders? I have been a leader in various area in my life, including religious, military, business, community, service clubs and sales. I encountered very few real leaders, but I would like to tell you about two of them to illustrate a point. I encountered both of them while I was a manager in the hotel industry.

Arthur Honey was an ex pro boxer and businessman extraordinaire. He owned the hotel that I managed. One morning I was eating breakfast with my family when I saw Mr. Honey (one would never call him “Arthur”) go by carrying a table. Next thing he was carrying chairs. I got up and asked him if I could help him. He relied quit calmly, “Actually, Robin, you forgot to tell the conference staff to set up for the Rotary meeting in thirty minutes so I stepped in to help. Finish your breakfast.” He could have scolded me, but instead he calmly embarrassed me. I never missed another event. Great leadership.

The other true leader was a Swiss Executive Director in a huge casino where I was a Food and Beverage Manager. When I first started on the job, he asked me to organize a big event. When I had done the work, I reported back to him. He said, “Mr. Elliott, I gave you a command and I expect it to be done. I take it for granted that it is done. You don’t need to tell me it’s done, thank you.” What an excellent way of establishing expectations and responsibility. Excellent leadership. When I had a problem with difficult servers who were on a go slow strike, he said, “Shame them into work” and proceeded to clear tables himself. Soon the embarrassed waiters were back at work.

Leaders are passionate, effective and dedicated. They don’t make excuses and they don’t accept excuses. They set a high standard and example. They do a LOT of training. They take the lead, initiate, innovate and make it happen. They don’t tolerate losers or laziness and they genuinely care about the people they lead. They take the time to get to know their people and demand loyalty and commitment. They earn the respect of their followers: I worked for nine months straight for Arthur Honey, during which time I only took one day off – the day my son was born. And I learnt so much from him.

Management Tip

Turn work into a game and a competition. I once had a problem with two employees who had to unload a beer truck every Tuesday – they were slow and lazy. I said, “I’ll bet I can unload more crates than you can in four minutes. I placed my watch on a crate and got to work. Within a short while, the weekly “Unloading the Beer Truck Competition” attracted chefs, bar tenders, manger and gardeners. No more problems and lots of fun.

Motivational Quote

“Blessed is the leader who seeks the best for those he serves.”

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