Pay it forward

When I made my recent career move, I couldn’t help but think back to how it all started. What drove me to want a career in hospitality, and — more importantly — who helped propel and guide me?

At the start, I wanted to keep moving up the ladder, and quite frankly, all I cared about was myself and my own career. After 20 years of self-focus, I decided it’s more than about time to help others who are looking for mentors. Without a mentor, I can’t say my career would be where it is today. The power of example is exactly that — powerful. I have relied heavily on my mentors, and I am grateful for them. And now, I’m enjoying paying it forward.

Years ago one of my personal mentors showed me the fundamentals of being a leader (rather than a manager). Each and every day I endeavor to inspire the same caliber of guidance among my own team. The most important lesson he taught me right from the start was that to be successful in this business, honesty and integrity are two values you must live by, or you will not last very long.

Here some other important lessons my mentor taught me that I now try to instill in the leaders who report to me:

Take good care of your employees.

Show them respect, and your guests will benefit every time. Treat your team as well as you treat your guests. After all, they are the ones delivering the service.

Infect with integrity.

Maintain consistency in every decision, and hopefully that will set the example for your employees. My mentor always told me that having integrity is defined by what you do when nobody is watching; it’s very easy to do the right thing when everyone is watching.

Think long-term.

You can charge a loyal client whose flight has been canceled and needs a room top dollar on a nearly sold-out night, or you can give him his negotiated rate. Loyal customers remember what you did (or didn’t do) for them. Loyalty to your business is something you should cherish and reward, not nickel and dime.

Delegate effectively.

Give your employees the weight of accountability. When you delegate, you share responsibility and authority. Let your direct reports make decisions. They will learn more from their failures and better serve themselves and your hotel moving forward. Human error is reflective of just that — being human. And to be human in your job is to be relatable to you employees. Sometimes they will make better decisions than you. Reap the rewards.

Whether you have a mentor or not, become a mentor. It’s the best way to pay it forward. I would love to hear about some of the lessons you have learned along the way and ways that you are now paying it forward. Hopefully you are making a positive impression on someone who looks up to you, like my mentors did for me.