8 essential leadership skills all hotel managers should have
When you’re just starting out in your hospitality career, you want to be aware of how to begin building the skills you’ll need to eventually become a manager. Being a “leader” is not the same as being a “manager,” however it’s best if both roles are blended into one. The difference is that leaders can be found at all levels of hospitality… you don’t need to be managing a staff to be a leader. Managers have the authority, but may not have the ability to inspire, motivate and support their teams as a true leader would.
Once you understand what’s required to be a strong leader, it will likely lead to a management role, since leadership skills create productive teams and positive results. Good leaders share five essential skills: innovation, vision, inner values, inspiration and communication, according to the former director of The School of Hospitality Business, Dr. Ronald F. Cichy, Michigan State University.
These are considered the “soft” skills of leadership in hospitality:
1. Innovation: Really great leaders are open to new ways of doing things. They’re always seeking to improve themselves and the organization and value quality over quantity. They are happy to take the initiative and are continuously learning and honing their skills. They’re also not afraid to take a risk and surround themselves with those whose skills complement their own.
2. Vision: Dr. Cichy also believes a leader must be able to set and communicate the goals and plans (the vision) for the company. Once everyone on the team understands the big picture of what they’re trying to achieve, they can work together toward that goal. Leaders trust their employees to execute the vision and give them the tools to do it.
3. Values: Leaders also understand there needs to be a work-life balance to succeed. It’s important to value the time your employees have with family and friends and how that translates to the ability to focus on the tasks at hand. There must also be a focus on building on and nurturing the strengths within the team to really use them to their fullest potential.
4. Inspiration: Here’s where real leaders shine… the ability to inspire their associates to do their best work, to support one another and feel empowered to do their jobs. They build confidence in their employees and ask for their input in making changes and setting goals.
5. Communication: Communication is at the root of all great leadership and part of being a good communicator is being an active listener. Good leaders are curious and willing to ask questions, be empathetic and consider options from all team members.
In addition to the “soft skills,” let’s not forget the “hard skills” that are an essential part of the business side of hospitality. These are the skills the run the business and include numbers 6, 7, and 8 on our list:
6. Computer Technology: Today, the computer is at the center of the business of hospitality. Reservations, accounting, inventory, record keeping, etc. are all integrated into the digital systems in every hotel. You don’t have to be an expert, but you do need to be competent at the keyboard.
7. Bookkeeping: Budgeting and documenting expenses and profits are the basis for making sound business decisions. Being aware of tax payments, payroll operations, business filings and other financial practices cannot be underestimated in being a successful manager and leader.
8. Business Sense: Here’s where the ability to understand the big picture of marketing, sales, utilization of space, understanding hiring practices and what’s needed to compete in the marketplace comes into place. The strong leader understands how to take advantage of opportunities and tackle challenges that lead to growth.
Leadership is all about finding the right solutions for problems in the moment so work can continue and guests are not walking away frustrated and angry. A combination of empathy, understanding, motivation and caring all come together along with a desire for self-improvement and a high expectation of excellence to create strong leadership that builds effective, productive teams.