By Robert A. Rauch

According to the “Power of Teamwork,” inspired by the Blue Angels, Scott Beare and Michael McMillan state that “every team member is counted upon to perform their role; teamwork allows teams to meet goals.” Teamwork has been around a long time. So what makes things so different going into 2014?

“Put a good person with a bad system and the bad system wins,” according to W. Edwards Deming. Based on today’s rapid technology changes in the hospitality industry, Deming is “spot on” when he mentions bad systems. Today’s distribution channels are markedly different than just a few years ago. Mobile web has emerged, social media marketing has blossomed and digital marketing has truly become a science.

Naturally there are many similarities to the good old days of hospitality as an art. Without shared values, peak performance is not possible. Moreover, sacrificing individual gain for the team’s greater good is the price of admission today and has been for a while. We’ve always been taught to “lead by example and walk the talk.” But today’s marketing approach is vastly different.

World-class service organizations know and apply certain practices that most companies do not; this differentiates them from the pack. They exceed customer expectations by anticipating them. Customer service is an attitude, a culture, it is planned and executed with diligence, ease and grace because it is the rule, not the exception. That sounds simple but it requires hiring, training, monitoring of social media and much more.


Secrets of Wow Customer Service

Customers like being wowed. According to Mark Sanborn, “success is based on our ability to change faster than the competition, customers and business.” If we know the true customer, the end user, we will succeed. E=f(E,E) is the equation of the unexpected. “Evaluation is a function of experience and expectation,” Ralph Waldo Emerson said. “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”

Walt Disney said, “do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” “Little things are important…big things change the world!”

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing,” according to Albert Einstein. Peter Drucker said, “quality is not what you put into it. It is what the customer gets out of it.”About mistakes, read people and respond quickly; turn lemon into lemonade. If you give your staff an opportunity to correct mistakes, it will pay off as guests do not expect to be wowed after a mistake is made. This has worked for us at both our branded and non-branded properties.

Customers want to feel appreciated, loved and treated with dignity and respect. Empathy and compassion connect people. Design and build reliability into your processes and let the outcomes follow. Let your reliability say wow!

Glenn Furuya, author of 50 Big Ideas on Leadership states, “leaders energize by approaching everyone who works for them as a volunteer and with respect.” Furuya discusses the model STDD or “stop think decide do.” He asks, “are you a rock?” I interpret that to mean that we should aspire to be the leader that everyone can trust to have thought each challenge through the STDD model.

Confucius once said, “choose a job you love and you’ll never work another day.” If you have empathy for your guests and team members, have drive and passion and act with reason, you will be considered a “voice leader,” according to Furuya.

Building trust is paramount to success in any industry, but with all the changes occurring today, it takes charity, clarity and integrity. Furuya talks about starting the day with “smart start.” This sets a positive mood and allows for both circular and linear thinking so that you can focus on people and tasks.

He suggests taking the first 5 minutes of the day to set a positive mood. The Navy Seals say “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”

The peak performer has skill and will. While this is critical, Ken Blanchard, author of One-Minute Manager says, “catch them doing something right…it is the key to developing people.” He continues, “make sure people know what their goals are.”

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions,” according to Rick Tate, Thought Leader.  Blanchard goes on to say, “toot your own horn!” Having said that, he continues to, “no one of us is as smart as all of us,” and the only three things we can count on are death, taxes and change.”

To be a successful leader, we must create boundaries, purpose, values, goals, roles and structure. We must teach our team to be “audible ready,” just like great quarterbacks in the National Football League. Remember, you can be great today and out of business tomorrow!

Brian Tracy is the next leader we’ll quote. His 7 Secrets of Leadership are:

  1. Clarity!
  2. Know what you want
  3. Commit to winning
  4. Courage to begin and endure
  5. Get results with the law of 3 (three activities represent 90 percent of the value of your contribution)
  6. Inspire others by teaching the law of 3 and : accept, appreciate, admire, approve of and pay attention to them; build and maintain trust
  7. Lead as a role model with competence and character

Lee Iacocca said, “the only things you need are people, products and profits, without a team, forget the other two.” As we focus on people then, it is paramount to:


Prioritize – if you aim at nothing you will hit it

Execute relentlessly – Once you start implementing don’t stop until you have finished. Adapt on the fly, improvise as best you can and keep going!  Don’t obsess over your inbox – don’t work on other people’s agendas, work on your own and get out of the office where you do 80 percent of merely good work.

In their book, The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes & Pozner developed the five practices and ten commitments of leadership. While most of their material is similar to what we have already reviewed, their table on these practices and commitments is worthy of reviewing:

  • Model the way – clarify values and set an example
  • Inspire a shared vision – envision the future and enlist others in a common vision
  • Challenge the process – search for opportunities and take risks!
  • Enable others to act – foster collaboration and strengthen others
  • Encourage the heart – recognize contributions and celebrate values and victories

Interestingly, many leadership traits are similar to entrepreneurial traits here. Entrepreneurs routinely challenge process and take risks as well as inspiring others. Credibility is the foundation of leadership. Once it is earned, find a space to work on your major achievements and make it happen! Good luck!

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